Thursday, November 30, 2006

Indonesia Opens New Mindanao Air Route

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 Nov) – Trade officials from the Philippines and the Indonesia hailed the launching of a new air route between the two countries.

An Indonesian airliner, Sriwijaya Air, launched its maiden flight from Manado to Davao City in the southern Philippines on Thursday. Both countries are members of the East Asean Growth Area along with Brunei and Malaysia.

Filipino officials said the new air link was part of an agreement signed by the two countries during a trade mission under the Jose Abad Santos-Glan-Sarangani (JAGS-CT) Cooperation Triangle to Indonesia in September.

"The new additional flight directly connecting Davao and Manado is an affirmation of growing vibrancy on the potentials for tourism, trade and investment within the BIMP-EAGA,” Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), said in a statement.

The Jakarta-based Sriwijaya Air uses Boeing 737-200 to provide an alternate service the Davao-Manado route, which is currently being served by Merpati Airlines. For its regular run, Sriwijaya is scheduled to fly every Monday and Thursday, arriving in Davao City at 01000 hrs and leaving for Manado at 01045 hrs.

The airline can accommodate 124 passengers and cargo of up to 3.5 tons. The new Davao-Manado route adds to the existing air and sea linkages between Mindanao and Indonesia.

Last month, both countries also opened a sea route from Glan town in Sarangani province to Tahuna in Bitung, Indonesia.

"Sriwijaya's Davao-Manado flight is expected to contribute to our aim of enhancing trade and socio-cultural links between the two nations. I hope this air route will be sustained, as it will certainly boost Mindanao's ties with Indonesia," Leyretana said.

Filipino and Russian’s Mosphil Aero Inc. this month also announced a plan to add new routes in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia and probably other countries in Southeast Asia. Mosphil said it is only waiting the signing of the Fifth Freedom Traffic Rights by members of the sub-regional trade bloc of the East Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Growth Area (EAGA) during the ASEAN Summit in Cebu City next month.

Glenn Lamela, Mosphil's director on marketing and sales, said the new routes will even include those outside the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Philippines- East ASEAN Growth Area or the BIMP-EAGA structure.

"The signing of the fifth freedom traffic right will allow us to operate internal flights within the four member countries of the BIMP-EAGA, and this is a big opportunity for us," Lamela told the Mindanao Examiner.

The Mindanao Business Council said that the Fifth Freedom Traffic Rights agreement will focus on the establishment of scheduled passenger services between Davao City-Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia)-Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei Darussalam) and between Pontianak (Indonesia)-Kuching (Malaysia)-Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei Darussalam).

Lamela said Mosphil is also planning to launch the Zamboanga-Kota-Kinabalu- Brunei, and Davao-Kota-Kinabalu-Manado routes and local flights from Zamboanga to Davao, Zamboanga-Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga-Cebu, Cotabato-IloIlo, and Boracay-Zamboanga routes.

"It is our priority to strengthen and materialize the traffic and the air-linkages within the BIMP-EAGA. The Philippine government is looking at Mosphil as the model to be presented during the ASEAN summit comes this December," Lamela said.

Mosphil is currently operating the Zamboanga-Jolo route twice a week. It opened the flight just in September. "We wanted to increase the inflow of traffic to Zamboanga City," Lamela said, adding they wanted to establish Zamboanga City as hub of Mosphil operation. (Mindanao Examiner)

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