Davao-Bangkok airlink

The timing is bad given the dim prospects of the travel industry due to rising cost of fuel.

However, I believe local tourism industry players should strike the iron while it is hot.

The recent air agreements signed by the country has finally included Davao as a new gateway. I have been batting for this during the past five years and finally the Civil Aviation Board has acceded.

Short of our desired “open skies” policy for Davao, these new air agreements gave flight entitlements for the city from Thailand, Netherlands and Hong Kong.

My particular interest is Bangkok. As one of Asia’s main regional hubs, I have been proposing for air links between Davao and the Thai capital since 2003. Bangkok receives more than 1 million tourists a month. If we can lure even just 1 percent of that throng, Davao could easily double its foreign tourist arrivals annually! And that is not counting Thai tourists yet just to show how huge this market is.

Amsterdam is too far to make any plans for now. While flights to Hong Kong are now available.

So, local tourism industry players should not let this opportunity pass by. They should immediately work with either local air carriers or Thai airlines to mount direct air links between the city and Bangkok. This would give Davao a foothold in the booming Mekong Delta region that includes rising tourist destinations such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

I am confident we can develop a good market for the Davao-Bangkok sector not only for tourism but for trade and the overseas Filipino market as well.

See related posts at our Open Skies category at the left sidebar.

5:09 a.m.

3rd in the World

This is another slap on the face of Save Our Skies (SOS) coalition which is opposing the entry of foreign air carriers in the country via the “open skies” regime. SOS raises the bogey that this would kill the domestic airlines.

Well, here’s another proof that SOS is lying like the Palace occupant.

The Philippines ranked 3rd in the world in air travel growth after India and Mexico. Our No. 1 airline Cebu Pacific recorded a whooping 47 percent growth rate. And this happened in spite of four years already of the Clark experiment on “open skies.”

Proves once more that the fears of SOS are unfounded.

See related posts under “Open Skies

(6:20 a.m.)

Air agreements

It has been four years since the new Davao (Bangoy) International Airport opened. And yet during this whole period no new foreign airlines entered the Davao skies.

I wonder what the national government is doing to promote this new airport, which cost us more than P4 billion.

Our own proposal for a pocket open skies for Davao to lure foreign air carriers has been gathering dust at Malacanang Palace since 2003.

There had been plenty of air talks held during the same period but I can only recall one where Davao was discussed. This was the air talks with South Korea which was held in the city.

Other than that, Davao is not being promoted by our air negotiating panel. It has also been four years ago when I proposed that Davao be represented in these air talks but again, this fell on deaf ears in Malacanang.

Clark on the other hand has been under an open skies regime, and represented in various air talks. The most recent of these are the renegotiation of air agreements with Singapore and Macau, and the new air talks with New Zealand.

We are being left out in the cold. Mga Davaoeno, Hoy Gising!

Regulatory capture

The Civil Aeronautics Board vehemently denied that it is under “regulatory capture.”

It demanded that the Senate hear its side on the the allegation by Sec. Romy Neri that it is under such state during his recent testimony over the ZTE scandal.

Well, if it is true that it is not in such straight jacket, I dare the CAB to declare its support to the “open skies” regime within 24 hours.

The proposal of Davao City for a pocket open skies has been gathering dust for the past four years at Malacanang due to the inaction and opposition of CAB. The application of Viva Macau to fly to Davao is also sleeping at the CAB for over a year now. About half a dozen other foreign airlines are likewise lining up at the closed doors of CAB waiting developments when they can fly to Davao.

The whole trouble with CAB is it equates the interest of some local carriers as the interest of the nation. It has been said many times that one key reason why Philippine tourism is a laggard is the lack of airline seats and yet CAB does not see this reality. It prefers not to level the playing field in its protectionist game at the expense of consumers, tourists and OFWs in particular.

I agree with Neri that it is a captured agency utilizing its regulatory powers to promote the selfish interest of the few.

(6:05 a.m.)