THE 25-member Philippine delegation attending the Sabah International Expo (SIE) is actively pursuing a deal to establish a direct flight route between Davao and Kota Kinabalu, according to a Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) representative.
Anelyn Binancilan, assistant division chief of the MinDa Investments Promotions Division, expressed the organization's determination to secure partnerships with major airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Garuda, and Malaysian Airlines.
She underscored the significance of establishing a direct air route between these two cities. She highlighted the challenges businesses face when delivering orders or finalizing deals, as the current route necessitates a detour through Manila before reaching Kota Kinabalu.
“Like during the SIE, may mga orders or deals, ang problema, paano siya ipadala? Kasi this will really take a long route - we will go to Manila first before going to Kota (During the SIE, if there are orders or deals, the problem lies in how to send them. Because this route takes a significantly longer path—we must go to Manila first before reaching Kota)," Binancilan said.
However, Binancilan also noted that an alternative, shorter sea route from Tawi-Tawi to Sabah could address this issue.
MinDa's strategy revolves around concurrent efforts to negotiate sea and air links with the government.
Additionally, they actively participate in events like the Sabah International Expo to aggressively market Philippine products and find ways to reach their target market directly.
She also commended small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for their resourcefulness in reaching customers.
Despite the challenge posed by the lack of a direct flight, Binancilan said MinDa remains unwavering in its commitment to promote Philippine products. They plan to maximize the existing sea links with Sabah and explore the potential for land-based transportation to facilitate barter trade.
It's worth noting that MinDa's Director of Investment Promotions and Public Affairs Office, Olie Degala, announced on July 26 that the Bangsamoro Barter Trade Council is set to establish formal procedures for barter trade in Tawi-Tawi, with full implementation scheduled for September 28.
“Mayroon tayong sea links sa Sabah, i-mamaximize lang natin ‘yun, saka yung launching ng ating barter trade, mayroon din silang boat from Tawi-Tawi papuntang Lahad Datu, a part of Sabah, na kung pwede i ba-by land na lang siya (We have existing sea links to Sabah, and we aim to maximize them. Along with the launch of our barter trade, there is also a boat from Tawi-Tawi to Lahad Datu, a part of Sabah, which could potentially be accessible by land),” Binancilan said.
The Philippine delegation's pursuit of a direct flight between Davao and Kota Kinabalu is aimed at strengthening economic ties, streamlining trade processes, and facilitating smoother business transactions between the two regions.
According to Travelmath, an online trip calculator, a direct flight from Davao to Kota Kinabalu could take approximately 1 hour and 48 minutes.
In contrast, the current Davao-Manila-Kota Kinabalu flight triangle is the quickest option. Still, it takes around 6 hours and 15 minutes, with costs ranging from P5,000 to P22,000, according to the Australian online multimodal transport journey planner website, Rome2Rio. ICE