THE REVIVAL of an air link between Davao City and Manado in Indonesia is tentatively set for relaunch on Sept. 27, with the maiden flight to be served by Garuda Airlines. An inter-agency coordination meeting was held last Tuesday to prepare for the initial flight that will carry national and local government officials, travel operators, and businessmen from Manado. The meeting was spearheaded by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) with Indonesian Vice Consul Ely Handayani. The route is part of the transport and tourism priority programs under the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). Eamarie M. Gilayo, in charge of MinDA’s International Relations Divisions-Transport Connectivity and Trade Facilitation, said Garuda Airlines is looking at including Bali in the route to make it more sustainable. “They are looking at a triangular tourism perspective (of the route),” said Ms. Gilayo. She added that businessmen who are and will be using the Davao-Bitung-General Santos sea link is another target market for the air service. “Entrepreneurs would need a faster service (compared with the shipping system which will bring their cargoes between the destinations),” Ms. Gilayo said. The Manado-Davao route was last served by Wings Air in 2012.
Meanwhile, the local business sector welcomed the creation of the Davao International Airport Authority (DIAA) through the signing of Republic Act No. 11457. “The long wait is over,” Arturo M. Milan, president of the business organization, told BusinessWorld in a text message. Mr. Milan said the creation of the body will allow “a much faster development in the airport in terms of the upgrading of the terminal and facilities and opening (of) more direct flights.” Simeon P. Marfori II, former president of the business group, said the creation of the DIAA will also “enable Mindanaoans greater freedom to move forward in the area of airport policy and management.” He added that, “It will mean we can manage and develop our air transport facilities and assets at the pace and scope we deem best suited for the local economy. It will enable us to be better connected to the rest of the world. Directly.” The DIAA will manage the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City as well as other airports that will be developed or built within the Davao Region. — Carmelito Q. Francisco