MALAYSIA-BASED low-cost airline, AirAsia, is looking into the possibility of opening more international flights from Davao City to other key destinations in Asia.
In a press statement, the Department of Finance said Asia's leading low-cost airline has expressed interest in expanding its services in the Philippines to include flights from Davao City to key cities in China, Korea and Malaysia.
“There’s a big population here. There’s a good business here. We met some farmers who wish to send their cargos directly to these places,” Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, said.
Fernandes also said there is a “massive opportunity in expanding the tourism sector in the Philippines once the costs of air travel in coming here are made more affordable by budget airlines whose pricing will depend on how much they are charged for the use of airport terminals."
For his part, DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government will look into the possibility of easing travel cost and airports selling or leasing gates to airlines at different rates depending on the landing times, in lieu of imposing airport taxes.
“I have asked the DOF (Department of Finance) representatives in the airports to tell them to consider this differential pricing, selling gates, rather than a fixed tax,” Dominguez said.
It can be recalled that during the Davao Investment Conference 2017 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier, Davao City on July 21, Fernandes announced that they are set to launch flights between Davao City and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The new international route will fly four times weekly.
"Today marks the start of the next phase of our commitment to Davao. We believe Davao has the potential to be the international gateway for Asean to the southern Philippines, beginning with this new route to Kuala Lumpur," Fernandes said.
He said by increasing connectivity and accessibility to air travel, AirAsia can help play a role in boosting economic growth in Mindanao.
"With this new foreign air link, it will be a big opportunity for us. We are targeting foreign tourists and investors; in fact a lot of foreign investors are looking at Davao now because this is the home city of the President (Rodrigo Duterte). This Air Asia investment will pave way for more opportunities for tourism and businesses in Davao and Kuala Lumpur," said Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on August 28, 2017.
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