DAVAO CITY — All Nippon Airways (ANA) will now consider Davao City in their route expansion plan after a recent roadshow by a delegation led by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) in Tokyo, Hitachinaka, and Saitama.

DCCCII President Arturo M. Milan said Davao was not even in ANA’s “radar screen” for flight expansions and the company’s officials were quite surprised to learn that there are now several international flights to and from the city.

“They were also quite surprised why foreign airlines are now flying directly to Davao,” Mr. Milan said during this week’s Habi at Kape forum.

Mr. Milan said his presentation included the list of foreign airlines serving Davao, which are SilkAir, Cathay Dragon, Qatar Airways, Xiamen Air, and Garruda.

“They even asked why not invite local airlines to fly to Japan directly,” he said.

ANA HD, the airline’s parent firm, has a 9.5% stake in the outstanding shares of PAL Holdings, the parent of Philippine Airlines. PAL and ANA also have a number of code share flights.

The DCCCII has previously written to PAL to push for a Japan-Davao link.

Mr. Milan said another factor that piqued the interest of ANA was Davao’s position as a part of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippine East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“When we started talking and described Davao as a gateway to BIMP-EAGA countries, they were quite interested,”he said.

The DCCCII official said they also emphasized that the potential passenger load for direct flights to Davao includes not just business travelers and tourists, but also Filipinos residing in Japan.

“They were so surprised that majority of the Filipinos living in Japan, according to the statistics from the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, are from Mindanao and those from Mindanao are basically from Davao Region, and that can be attributed to our long relationships with Japanese,” Mr. Milan said.

In their meetings with Japanese businesses for potential partnerships and investments, Mr. Milan said the most pressing question was:”Is there a direct flight to Davao?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Milan also announced that they signed a sisterhood agreement with the Hitachinaka Chamber of Commerce while the business group of Saitama expressed interest to forge one. — Maya M. Padillo