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More flights connecting Davao needed to boost trade, tourism

DAVAO CITY (PIA) -- Tourism industry stakeholders in Davao City are hoping for more international flights that will connect Davao City to different parts of the world.

“We are really hoping that through our gateway, Davao International Airport, we can push more international flights because that helps us in promoting outbound and inbound tourism,” said travel agent and current vice president for travel and tours sector of the Davao Travel Agencies Association (DTAA), Pia Partoza Montano.

She stressed that the lack of international flights in Davao leads to higher ticket prices for airline tickets going to the city, as this was observed during their last year’s tourism mission in Singapore.

Currently, Qatar Airways operates a single weekly route from Davao to Doha, Qatar. Low-cost carrier Scoot offers thrice-weekly flights from Davao to Singapore, and Royal Air offers twice-weekly from Hong Kong to Davao.

Department of Tourism XI Regional Director Tanya Rabat Tan wants the existing international routes to be promoted so that these flights will be sustained and the airline companies will add more frequencies.

DOT-XI Regional Director Tanya Rabat Tan (2nd from right holding mic) and Davao Travel Agencies Association vice president for travel and tours sector Pia Partoza Montano (2nd from left) have cited the need for more international direct flights to boost Davao tourism

“Let’s also help promote the Qatar once-a-week flight, especially now that Europe has a strong market for leisure travelers here;  let us take advantage of this route,” Rabat Tan said.

She added that more international flights will help in Davao Region’s goal of positioning itself as a premiere adventure destination not just in the country but also in the ASEAN region, and among its major programs is the Davao Adventure Challenge, a year-long campaign of DOT-Davao Region that will spotlight Davao’s unique natural attractions and eco-adventure escapades.

“We are hopeful for these international flights, especially with these new things you can do and offerings in the region, plus, of course, travel advisories, and maybe then they (airlines) will be encouraged,” Rabat Tan said.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific is eyeing more international flights to Davao.

Carmina Romero, Cebu Pacific director for corporate communications and also the airline spokesperson, revealed that once the Cebu Pacific airline fleet becomes more stable and goes fully operational, they will be resuming the Singapore-Davao flight.

“If maging ok na talaga, Davao ang uunahin naming i-prioritize na magkakaroon ng international flights (If the aircrafts will be okay, we will prioritize Davao that will have international flights),” Romero said.

The airline had to temporarily halt the Singapore-Davao flights due to an issue with the Pratt and Whitney engines used by its fleet of Airbus aircraft.

To compensate for the affected services because of the grounded aircraft, Cebu Pacific entered into a damp lease agreement with Bulgaria Air for two A320ceo aircraft servicing Manila-Davao flights from January to March 2024.

Romero said that if the issues with the Pratt and Whitney engines are resolved, the airline is planning to link Davao not just with Singapore but also with other Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Narita (Japan), and Incheon.

Romero said that, based on trends, these Asian destinations are popular with Filipino leisure travelers.

“We understand there used to be a Davao-Narita (flight) based on history, so yun yung mga tinitingnan natin na mare-resume (That is what we are eyeing to resume),” she said.

She added that airline issues beyond their control have affected Cebu Pacific’s plans for Davao.

“Davao is our main gateway to Mindanao, and we know that the market here is really that they go out of the Philippines to travel as leisure travelers. It is just unfortunate that we have to deal with aviation issues outside of our control. Right now, this is what we are doing to achieve some sort of stable and better resilience than last year,” Romero said.

As for the timeline to resolve the aircraft issue, Romero said inspections will last from 2025 to 2026, adding, “But in the meantime, even with the ongoing (inspections), we just keep on adding aircraft.” (RGA/PIA Davao)

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Rudolph Ian Alama

Regional Editor

Region 11

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