Davao-Manado trade traffic is back as air connection resumes

Jul. 22, 2008

Davao City- The revival of the Davao-Manado route brings back business traffic between the two neighboring cities which have been closely linked through the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Wings Air, the newest Indonesian airline serving the Davao-Manado route, noted a bustling passenger traffic since its first chartered flight last month. A subsidiary of Lion Air based in Indonesia, Wings Air has recently resumed the Davao-Manado flights after Sriwijaya Air, which used to ply the route, suspended air operations in December last year.

“Our flights so far are fully booked”, said Daniel Jacob, Wings Air district engineer for Manado and East Indonesia, adding they are optimistic on the market viability of their Davao-Manado flights.

Using a 52-seater aircraft, Wings Air is scheduled to shift to a once a week regular flight soon. He said that while the aircraft they’re using is smaller, it can accommodate more cargo whenever there are fewer passengers.

Baby Montemayor, Chairperson of the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council, strongly welcomes the resumption of air service between Davao and Manado.

“We are also hopeful that joint tourism promotions between the two cities can now be put in active implementation by tour operators with the support of the consortium of travel and tour operators in BIMP-EAGA”, she added.

Montemayor also looks forward to more participation from Mindanao in the forthcoming ecotourism conference in Manado this October using the air connection.

While Manado can be a strategic destination for local tourists because of its world-class diving sites, the traders will benefit more with this new development according to Alex Divinagracia, President of Davao Travel and Tours Association.

His travel agency, Global Wings Travel and Tours, has been ticketing traders from Davao to Manado and noted that there has been a sustained traffic of passengers along the route.

“Traders usually stay from two to four days in Manado”, he said, adding that his clients are usually stall owners of Aldevinco complex, Davao’s most popular one-stop pasalubong center.

Dreamworld Travel and Tours, the official ticketing and booking office of Wings Air, also added that most of their passengers are crew of some Indonesian fishing vessels in General Santos and Davao City who opt to fly back home whenever ships are not available.

“Some are also Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) going back and forth to Indonesia”, said Jove Flores, the agency’s officer-in-charge.

According to Flores, a round trip ticket for Davao-Manado costs $ 305 while a one way ticket costs $ 205. Passengers can also avail connecting flights to Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia via Davao-Manado route. Flying time is about an hour and ten minutes.

Davao and Manado are two of EAGA’s developed urban centers which have sustained trade and tourism activities over the years.

These two proximate EAGA areas situated along the southern part of Mindanao and North Sulawesi, Indonesia have for years established twinning ties through a sister-city relationship that has helped enhance the ongoing free exchange of tourism, socio-cultural and economic benefits in both cities.

Traveling from Mindanao and Palawan to any area in BIMP-EAGA now has been encouraging especially since that the Philippine government has revived in 2006 the granting of BIMP-EAGA travel tax exemption running through September 2008. (MEDCo)

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