Another Asian airline sets sights on direct flights to Aklan
by Venus G. Villanueva
Kalibo, Aklan (21 February) -- Another Asian airline is training its sight on landing directly to Kalibo Airport. For a start, the airline's staff is going to hold an exploration tour in Boracay Island from February 22 to 25 of this year.
According to the office of Kalibo Mayor Raymar Rebaldo, the exploration tour of Mandarin Airlines is in preparation for its possible putting up of a charter route from Taipei City in Taiwan to Kalibo Airport in Aklan because of the many tourism attractions in Boracay Island and Aklan in general.
This information of the possible entry of another airline directly from its point of origin to Kalibo, Aklan came from the office of Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab of the Department of Tourism through a memorandum forwarded to Kalibo by DOT 6 Regional Director Edwin Trompeta.
To serve as host to the staff and crew of Mandarin Airlines when they arrive for the exploration tour is the Team Asia Pacific. An ocular inspection of the Kalibo Airport will take most of the crew's tour time, according to sources from the Kalibo Mayor's Office.
The entry of another charter route of another regional flight is seen to be another opportunity for Aklan to promote not just the island of Boracay but other attractive tourism destinations in the province waiting to be discovered.
Last year in May, the first direct international flight landed at the Kalibo Airport through the Asian Spirit Airlines which ferried passengers from Incheon, South Korea. Records from the Provincial Tourism Office here showed that since that inaugural flight, almost 13,000 South Korean tourists visited Boracay Island through the route.
Currently, the Kalibo Airport is undergoing expansion and improvement, and through the efforts of Aklan Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has fastracked the release of funds so the airport could accommodate still bigger planes and more flights direct from more countries.
On the other hand, for Caticlan, the jump-off point to Boracay Island, the Infrastructure Cabinet Committee chaired by PGMA recently approved the expansion of Caticlan Airport in the amount of P2.4 billion under the Build-Operate-Transfer Scheme.
"This will pave the way to accommodate bigger planes such as Airbus 319/320 or B737 that will cater to passengers from other parts of the world," said Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez, who bared the news in his latest State of the Province Address (SOPA).
Coincidentally, one airline is already moving along this goal, as next week, Cebu Pacific will be having its maiden flight landing at Caticlan Airport from Manila.
Arrangements and coordinations with local officials and the media are being made for this maiden flight presently. (PIA) [top]