When Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) Chief Executive Officer Olive Ramos first came to Laoag City in 2003, she drove for 12 hours from Manila to Laoag.
But Ramos said she had no regrets coming to this “Sunshine City” despite the long-hour drive, for she immediately liked the place, which she described as historical, and promised herself to return someday.
Ten years later, she returned to Laoag and led the inaugural flight of SEAIR’s Manila-Laoag-Manila route on April 4.
During her second stay in the province, she promised to help make Laoag City and Ilocos Norte become a business and tourism hub in the Ilocos region through a partnership with SEAIR and the local government.
SEAIR is a Filipino company that is 40 percent owned by Singapore-based Tiger Airways holdings. It has adopted the low-cost carrier (LCC) business model and offers pocket-friendly fares to 12 destinations in the country and three international destinations (Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok).
In a press conference held at the Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Casino in Laoag City, SEAIR Vice President Jose Laurente said that their company has helped develop Boracay and Palawan as a major tourist destination. Laurente promised to do the same to Ilocos Norte.
When asked why they chose Laoag, Ramos said that the company believes in Laoag’s potential as an investment and tourism hub.
“Laoag supports the preservation of key heritage buildings and infrastructure and SEAIR applauds the efforts of the local government to make Laoag the center of business and tourism in Ilocos Region,” Ramos said.
Ramos said that they made their fare rates affordable and comparable with the fare rates offered by bus companies while providing more convenience to passengers in terms of travel time and comfort.
“Because of the internet and the development of technology, flying has become affordable to everyone. Help us to promote the airbus and we join you in promoting Laoag and make it progressive,” said Ramos.
With Laoag being the center for business and trading in Ilocos Norte and its enviable proximity to a variety of attractions in the region, SEAIR is also eyeing the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) market, which has become a new focus in the city with the establishment of international-standard road system and infrastructures, such as the Laoag International Airport.
SEAIR will be using two kinds of aircraft in their Laoag-Manila-Laoag flights, the Airbus A-319 and Airbus A-320.
The Airbus A-319 was used during the inaugural flight with more than a hundred tourists and balikbayans aboard.
Manila-Laoag flights are scheduled at 1:00pm at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 and Laoag-Manila flights at 3:00pm daily. (MCA/Ariel Paolo A. Tejada-PIA1 Ilocos Norte)