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PIA Press Release

Zest Air flies Zamboanga-Sandakan route

Zamboanga City (16 October) -- Trade and tourism exchanges between Zamboanga and Sandakan, Malaysia are back on track as regular flights connecting the two neighboring areas in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) resume today (16 October).

Zest Air's brand new 56-seater MA-60 modern ark aircraft will depart from Zamboanga Airport at 12:45 pm and will arrive Sandakan at 2:00pm today, marking the revival of the Zamboanga-Sandakan air link which has been suspended since April last year.

Formerly the Asian Spirit which used to ply the route in 2008, Zest Air will mount regular flights to Sandakan on a thrice a week schedule, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. One-way flight for the said route will cost each passenger a total of P1,829 exclusive of travel tax.

"This is part of our commitment to complement government's effort in enhancing transportation connectivity in BIMP-EAGA. The revival of the Zamboanga-Sandakan air link will give convenience to the riding public from Mindanao and Palawan," Ken Tan, station manager of Zest Air Zamboanga.

Tan said it will cut travel time of tourists and businessmen from Mindanao who had to go to Manila ahead of time just to catch up flights going to Sandakan.

"We're getting more than 50 percent in terms of passenger load and we're still getting more in the coming weeks," said Tan, adding that their targeting tourists, traders and OFWs as potential markets.

Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chair of the Mindanao Economic Development Council, lauded the reopening of the air link, saying it will again allow Mindanao to penetrate a wider market for tourism and trade. Zamboanga and Sandakan have been closely linked through the BIMP-EAGA initiative.

"This is truly a noble effort by the private sector to bring growth in the region. I expect that this development will pave the way for more enhanced cross-border linkages with our counterparts in EAGA," he said.

Strengthening air linkages, Leyretana added, is strongly being pushed by the Arroyo administration in line with the effort to revitalize BIMP-EAGA as a key strategy for developing Mindanao and Palawan.

Zest Air started operations in 2008 with a thrust to establish links in regional and Southeast Asia, particulary within the BIMP-EAGA region. (MEDCo) [top]

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