MINDANAO Development Authority (Minda) deputy executive director assistant secretary Romeo M Montenegro recently announced that PAL Express, a subsidiary of Philippine Airlines, is looking into developing short-haul routes within the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga).
He said some of the flights they are looking at are Davao City-Manado, Indonesia and Zamboanga City-Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Should these flights be realized, this will allow a more seamless travel within the BIMP-Eaga sub-region. This will provide travellers alternative routes to other destinations that will allow them to not go through Cebu or Manila anymore.
However, it is important to factor in as to how these flights will be sustained. It can be recalled than there have been exploratory international flights, some have been launched, between Mindanao cities and a foreign destination. However, some of these were never sustained due to external factors.
Montenegro said PAL Express is looking into these routes being beyond a two-point connectivity, which means that travellers are not necessarily ending in one destination but use it for another. They are also looking into operating a triangular route for the BIMP-Eaga flights similar to what Silk Air is doing for its Singapore-Davao flights. These systems are seen to sustain the flights.
With the improved connectivity, we can expect more economic activities between BIMP-Eaga cities. At the same time, both sides may also see an increase in foreign direct investments.
The regional flights will also support Asean's push for a more seamless travel and trade between member nations.