By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Correspondent
DAVAO CITY — Budget airline Cebu Pacific (Cebu Air, Inc.) is looking to expand its services to and from the Davao International Airport here with the delivery of three new Air 321 CEO planes in the coming weeks.
“We will evaluate whether there are possible new (local and international) routes that we can serve,” Ma. Rosario L. Lagamon, Cebu Pacific corporate communications director, told BusinessWorld on Wednesday on the sidelines of an agreement signing for the Visit Davao Summer Festival 2018.
Ms. Lagamon said the three new aircraft, among the 45 expected for delivery within the next five years, will already be used for some of the existing 10 Davao routes.
Demand for flights to Davao has been increasing, she said. “Even the A330 that seats 436 is always full… We change some of the aircraft (to Davao) that seats more people using the same slot in Manila with bigger aircraft so (we) can fly more people into Davao.”
“In terms of cargo, Davao is a very big thing. The total volume (in and out of Davao) reached 15,000 tons in 2017,” she added.
Cebu Pacific currently has 148 weekly flights between Davao and nine local destinations, and a lone international route, Singapore.
Ms. Lagamon said the Davao airport, which the airline declared as its third hub in 2008, accounted for more than 12% of the 19.7 million passengers it flew in 2017.
As part of the summer tourism campaign for Davao, Ms. Lagamon said the company is bringing digital “content creators” from Singapore and the United Arab Emirates to experience the city and other parts of the region.
“Davao and adjacent provinces have so much to offer tourists… We want people to spread the word and dispel any notions they may have about Mindanao in general. We strongly feel that positive word-of-mouth is integral to promoting the region, especially for foreign tourists,” she said.
The airline official also said that they are assessing the push from the Department of Tourism and local stakeholders to launch new international routes.
Arturo M. Milan, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., earlier said airline companies should consider servicing new routes in Asia, particularly Japan.
“I believe there already is a good market for the Davao-Japan route,” said Mr. Milan as he noted that the governments of both countries have been actively strengthening linkages.
Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio and other local officials are in Japan this week upon the invitation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to discuss “urban planning and infrastructure development,” the city government said in a press statement. with a report from Maya M. Padillo