AIRLINES LOOK AT NEW AIRPORT TO BE HUB

Two leading airlines in the country are keener on making Bohol their international hub considering the much-awaited opening of the Panglao Bohol airport next year.  Gov. Edgar Chatto bared this anticipated development after meeting with the top AirAsia officials at the opening of the Philippine Travel Mart at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on Friday.

Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Capt. Dexter Comendador talked with Chatto on the company’s plan to make Bohol their international entry point.  Asian tourist and investment sources like Malaysia, China, Japan and Hong Kong are target areas for initial connectivity to Bohol.  From Bohol, the tourists can connect to other leading destinations in the country.

A budget airline terminal is also being proposed for the new Bohol airport in Panglao.  Earlier during the inaugural Tagbilaran City – South Korea flight, PAL executives revealed to Chatto their plan to also transform Bohol into their hub destination linking to other international airports.

In November this year, PAL will start its Davao-Bohol-Davao flights and open in Christmas season its Bohol-Clark-Bohol route, Chatto said.   Competing commercial aviation companies are adding routes that connect to Bohol even if they have yet to use the existing Tagbilaran City airport as an entry point.The new Bohol airport of international standard in Panglao will accommodate all flights when it will begin operational by mid-2018 as targeted.

After four presidents and four governors, Bohol’s dream airport came to be finally constructed during the term of former Pres. Benigno Aquino III and the incumbent governor.  Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is pushing for the completion of the airport as finally built in Chatto’s time.  Chatto accorded infectious hospitality, a signature Boholano trait, to the country’s executive secretary who enjoyed Bohol in a private unwinding along with his family over the other weekend.

The AirAsia has taken cognizant of the new airport development that its executives foresee Bohol as an international air travel hub and a Central Philippines gateway, too.  Comendador said AirAsia shares the vision of the government to develop tourism hubs and spur economic growth beyond the capital.  The airline currently serves the Manila-Tagbilaran route with three daily return flights using an aircraft that offers a seat capacity for close to 3,800 tourists and other travelers to Bohol weekly.

Since its launching in 2012, the AirAsia now has a network of destinations linking Philippine cities and connecting the Philippines to various points in Asia like Incheon in South Korea.  It was PAL, though, that blazed the Korea-Bohol-Korea sky trail by its inaugural flight from Incheon to Tagbilaran City and then Cebu, vice versa, last June.  Also, the AirAsia proposed a budget airline terminal for the Panglao Bohol airport.

Weeks to the Philippine Travel Mart, Comendador already asked for a meeting with Chatto on establishing a dedicated low-cost carrier terminal and the granting of incentives.  Chatto said that while the province strongly supports the plan, discussions will still be made with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).  The same will be done with the duly-awarded management group that will be authorized and tasked to operate the terminal facilities.  Chatto said the aggressive plans of AirAsia and PAL will augur well for Bohol as more domestic and international connections stimulate economic growth.

The economic impact will surely accelerate job creation and spur more activities to reduce poverty, the governor said. (Ven rebo Arigo)

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