S. Koreans press for flights linking Iloilo and Incheon

Posted on February 21, 2011

ILOILO CITY -- South Koreans based here are pushing for direct flights between Incheon, South Korea and this city.

"We have a large population of Koreans here in Iloilo and they want easier access from South Korea," Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hye-Min Lee told journalists here last week.

Koreans traveling to and from Iloilo presently have to pass through Manila, Kalibo (Aklan) or Cebu.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Lee and Iloilo Governor Arthur D. Defensor, Sr., the Iloilo Korean United Community Association, Inc. said many Koreans are living in the city and province of Iloilo for tourism, missionary work, English education and business.

Data from the Bureau of Immigration-Western Visayas showed that around 10,000 Koreans flock to Iloilo annually while more than 2,000 now reside here permanently.

"Unlike Manila, Iloilo is well-known as an educational city. More Korean students prefer to come here for their English education," the Korean group said in its letter.

Mr. Defensor said he told Mr. Lee that he will endorse the proposal to the Department of Transportation and Communications. "It is up to the Civil Aviation Authority (of the Philippines) and the Office of the President to decide whether or not to open direct flights between Iloilo and Incheon," he said. "We have to look into the business component of the proposal. Airlines would not delve on it [sic] if they feel that it is not totally feasible."

Edwin G. Trompeta, Department of Tourism regional director in Western Visayas, said chartered flights can initially boost this traffic. "In Boracay, Aklan, they started with chartered flights from Korea and Taiwan; but now they have regular flights after the passenger traffic picked up," he said. -- Francis Allan L. Angelo