FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will add more local destinations to its existing routes with the arrival of five Bombardier Q400 in 2018, a new generation “jet-like” turboprop, and two more in 2019, said an official.

Rabbi Vincent Ang, PAL Express assistant vice president for commercial development, said the opening of new destinations is part of PAL’s commitment to provide inter-island connectivity at the fastest time, as well as boost the country’s business and tourism activities.

Last Friday, PAL opened new routes that connected Cebu to Siargao, Camiguin, Ozamiz, and Legaspi, all utilizing the Bombardier Q400.

Prior to the new routes launched last Friday, PAL connects Cebu to 13 domestic destinations: Bacolod, Busuanga, Butuan, Cagayan, Caticlan, Davao, General Santos, Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Siargao, Tacloban, and Tagbilaran.

Nationwide, the Lucio Tan-led airline is now present in 33 destinations across the Philippines, flown from their various hubs in Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Davao.

Outside Manila, PAL considers Cebu as its primary hub.

Camiguin, one of the fast-rising provincial tourism destinations in the country, is seeing increased interest from the flag carrier.

Ang said PAL would have included the Manila-Camiguin route this year, but the current air traffic congestion at the Manila airport made it impossible to materialize for now.

Two months ago, the province of Camiguin launched its #feelCamiguin campaign on social media. It went viral in a matter of days.

Camiguin Governor Ma. Luisa Romualdo and Mambajao Mayor Jurdin Jesus “JJ” Romualdo joined the inaugural flight from Mactan Cebu International Airport.

The flight touched down at the Camiguin airport at 12:20 p.m. and was officially welcomed with a water-canon salute by the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Aside from PAL, Romualdo said Sky Jet, another local airline, is interested to provide flights to Camiguin. Cebu Pacific is currently providing two flights from Cebu to the province.

The mayor said more transportation routes are opening to and from Camiguin. Between Dec. 15 and 20, FastCat, a fleet of catamaran-type roll-on/roll-off vessels, which is operated by the Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp., will be able to cater to passengers all over Misamis Oriental who are planning to travel to Camiguin and Bohol. FastCat will be using the Opol pier to Camiguin and Bohol. (With Mildred Galarpe)