Asia Pulse – Cebu Pacific (CEB), the country’s leading domestic airline, is set to expand its operations in Davao by making it the third hub after Manila and Cebu by May 8, 2008. The airline will base an A-319 aircraft and its necessary crew and support at the Davao International Airport (DIA) to service direct flights from Davao City to Singapore and Hong Kong. The airline will also offer direct domestic flight to Iloilo. Such move is expected to boost Davao Region’s economy, with the future influx of tourists and prospective investors from both neighbouring Asian countries. “This is part of our commitment to develop Davao as a gateway into the Philippines and make the Philippines, particularly Davao or Mindanao, a more attractive destination for tourism and trade,” Lance Gokongwei, CEB president and chief executive officer, said. The decision to make Davao as the airline’s third hub is in preparation for a more expansive inter-island connectivity, as they plan to acquire more aircraft within the next few years. He said their direct service from Cebu to Singapore and Hong Kong have been “very successful and there’s no reason we can’t do it in Davao.” “We recognize Davao as very attractive in terms of promoting trade and tourism. Davao offers the same potentials as Cebu,” Gokongwei said. Gokongwei said about 30 per cent of the 75 per cent traffic for direct international service to Hong Kong and Singapore comes from Davao. New jobs for Dabawenyos will also be generated, he said, adding that support crew is needed for the maintenance of the aircraft. “From our 40-man ground crew at present, we will increase it to about 60 as we need engineering support to the aircraft,” he said. Both services from Davao to Singapore and Iloilo will start on May 8 next year while service to Hong Kong on May 9. These new services will be introduced with a seat sale from November 13-20 this year. “We will continue to expand our operations to achieve our goal of flying more travelers. And, with our continuous aircraft acquisition and base expansion, we hope to boost the country’s tourism and trade agenda in the region,” Gokongwei stated. The airline also continues to pursue a 4th operational hub in Clark as soon as all the necessary government approvals to operate to Bangkok, Macau, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore are granted.
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