OFWs, seamen to benefit from Iloilo direct flights-A A +A
Friday, June 22, 2012
THOUSANDS of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seamen living in Western Visayas will benefit from the proposed direct international flights from Hong Kong and Singapore to the Iloilo “airport of international standards” in Cabatuan, Iloilo.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Helen Catalbas said the travel market emerging from the Ilonggo workers is so vast. OFWs have been lobbying for direct international flights to Iloilo and vice versa to save transportation costs without passing Manila or Cebu airports anymore.
Iloilo City, as regional capital of Western Visayas, is hosting a maritime university as foremost training ground for seamen and several colleges and universities as training centers for professionals who go abroad to work.
On the other hand, Iloilo and the rest of Panay Island produce thousands of workers such as technicians and domestic helpers for overseas work, particularly in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
Catalbas said Cebu Pacific Airlines assured regular passenger flights from the Iloilo airport to Hong Kong and vice versa four times a week and Iloilo to Singapore three times a week.
The direct international flights are proposed to start before the end of October or early November this year.
Similarly, the DOT official is hopeful that aside from OFWs and seamen, international visitors will take the Hong Kong and Singapore as jump-off routes in going to Iloilo and Western Visayas.
Catalbas said there is an urgent need for a sustained campaign to attract aviation passengers to take the Iloilo route because airlines will immediately stop the routes without enough passengers.