Leading low-cost airline AirAsia will finally expand its operations next month with direct flights from Clark and Mactan (Cebu) international airports.
Ricardo Isla, AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer, announced in a “bilateral meeting” with city officials on Tuesday that it has finalized the opening of its Clark-General Santos route on March 29 and Cebu-General Santos on March 31.
Isla said the round-trip flights between the city and Clark are scheduled every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
AirAsia, the third major airline to operate here, will service daily round-trip flights between the city and Mactan airport in Cebu.
“We’re also working on opening direct daily flights for the Manila-General Santos route,” he said.
As in its other domestic routes, he assured that the airline would offer the same quality of service and affordable fare rates.
AirAsia Philippines mainly uses the Airbus A320 aircraft for its domestic and international flights.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera welcomed the airline’s expansion, which had long been sought by the local government and other stakeholders.
“This will benefit travelers and our growing economy as well,” Rivera said.
He said exporters of tuna and other products from the area would benefit from the expanded air cargo.
Rivera said they are hoping that AirAsia would later increase its flights to the city and also open additional routes.
City Councilor Shandee Llido-Pestaño, chairperson of the city council’s committee on tourism, said AirAsia’s expansion is a huge boost to the area’s tourism industry.
Last year, she said the city recorded about 1.2 million in tourist arrivals based on data released by the Department of Tourism 12 (Soccsksargen).
“With this development, we’re seeing more tourists, especially those from abroad, coming in this year,” she said.
Aside from AirAsia, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific services nine round-trip flights daily from the city to Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo.
Early this month, MAG Travel and Tours opened bi-weekly flights between the city and Clark using a Fokker 50 aircraft operated by Leading Edge Air Services Corp. (PNA)