SINCE then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte was elected into the presidency, Davao City saw the growth of international air links to major Asian cities.
In the last two years, we have seen the launching of air routes to Doha, Qatar; Jinjiang, China; and Hong Kong. Before these flights, Davao City's only international connection was Singapore.
Recently, it was revealed by Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian that Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier of Indonesia, is set to launch flights between Manado and Davao City by September.
In a MindaNews report by Antonio L. Colina IV, the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Davao Region is now pushing for flights between Davao City and Taiwan. In a Facebook post by DOT-Davao, DOT's Routes Development Group organized a familiarization tour for TigerAir with seven Taiwan-based travel agencies.
These international routes play an important role in the economic and tourism development in the city. These linkages open new opportunities for many Dabawenyos with improved access.
While we celebrate Davao City's improved connectivity, we cannot help but question the sustainability of such flights.
For example, AirAsia suspended its flights between Davao City and Kuala Lumpur on August 21, 2018, just less than a year after it started operations in December 2017. In a previous report by SunStar Davao, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated (DCCCII) president Art Milan said the route was "not able to generate enough passengers and cargoes to make it viable that's why they have to stop."
Likewise, the Davao-Manado routes that were previously operated by other Indonesian airlines like Bouraq Airlines, Wings Air, and Sriwijaya Air did not also last long.
It is not only the international air linkages that are struggling. It can also be noted that the Davao-General Santos-Bitung sea route, which was launched by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also struggled to be sustained.
One of the driving factors of the aviation industry to maintain a route is its sustainability and viability. Hence, there is a need for the government to help the private tourism sector and the local government unit (LGU) of Davao City in sustaining the route through different strategies.
The LGU, tourism stakeholders, and the DOT 11 must come up with strategies that will intensively market these routes to Dabawenyos and foreigners. Probably, through effective marketing, we will be able to generate traffic for these international routes and sustain it for the long run.
Hopefully, we will not only collect maiden flights but instead actually sustain these flights.