DAVAO CITY — Philippine Airlines (PAL) subsidiary Air Philippines Corp., also known as PAL Express, has agreed to serve the Davao-Manado and Zamboanga-Kota Kinabalu routes starting March 31 next year, Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said over the weekend.

“We are looking forward to these new linkages,” said Mr. Piñol, noting that these flights will boost trade and partnerships between Mindanao and the rest of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Mr. Piñol said they have been working to enhance economic ties in the sub-region, especially with Indonesia and Malaysia.

PAL Spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna, in a text message to BusinessWorld, confirmed the planned new routes.

Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, MinDA deputy executive director, told BusinessWorld Monday that both flights will initially be on a thrice-a-week schedule.

“We need these flights to be able to enhance our connectivity within the BIMP-EAGA,” said Mr. Montenegro.

The Davao-Manado route is currently being served by Citylink Indonesia, a subsidiary of Garuda, which started the flights about three months ago on a twice-a-week schedule.

The load factor of the 70-seater plane is at an average of 60% going to Manado and 45% to Davao, based on MinDA data.

PAL Express will be the lone airline for the Zamboanga-Kota Kinabalu route.

In 2017, Cebu Pacific Air announced that it was looking at serving the route, but postponed the plan due to the absence of some immigration facilities at the airport in Zamboanga City.

The Zamboanga International Airport has been undergoing repairs and upgrade since 2018, with an over P200-million budget allocated by the Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, Ms. Villaluna also confirmed that flights between Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi will be added to PAL’s domestic routes starting Dec. 15. — Carmelito Q. Francisco with a report from Arjay L. Balinbin