A NEW airline has been formed to establish “air bridges” to serve the countryside. The Provincial Air Express will operate small airplanes to serve the so-called “missionary routes,” which have remained underdeveloped up to the present time.

The Philippines has 85 national airports and several private airports. However, only about 35 currently receive regular air services, which are limited to international and trunk-line airports. Some secondary and all feeder airports have no regular service.

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The airline has selected the work-proven, cost-efficient Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, which is currently flown by 300 commercial operators in 70 countries. With a pilot and first officer, the rugged single-engine turboprop can carry up to 14 passengers or 1,500 kilograms freight and take off and land in all of the country’s airports.

By operating in a network using the Philippine international gateway airports as hubs, the Grand Caravan is an excellent complement to the larger carriers as feeder for passenger and cargo services. From the hubs, all Philippine airports will be accessible within an hour’s flight.

With the services, Manila passengers going to and from Guiuan, Borongan, Maasin, Hilongos, Ubay, Camiguin, Siquijor, and other Visayas destinations can save time and money by connecting through Cebu. This situation is replicated with other destinations around Laoag, Clark DMIA, Manila, Davao, and Zamboanga International Airports.

For cargo, the airline will provide 24/7 services to bridge farm and marine products to their urban consumers and also provide rapid and safe deliveries for manufactured consumer products to their provincial users.

Provincial Express will initially serve routes with adequate demand for capacity while developing other sectors through non-scheduled charter operations.

To help foster the growth of Philippine tourism, the airline will also introduce the Cessna 208 float-plane version Amphibian Caravan for charters and time-sharing arrangements with the island hotel and resort owners. (PR)