Another airline has expanded its operations here to complement the area’s growing passenger and cargo traffic.
Low-fare airline Tiger Airways (Tigerair) formally launched here on Friday afternoon the first of its initial five weekly flights for the Manila-General Santos route, bringing to six the average daily flights to and from this city.
The maiden flight left Manila at around 12:30 p.m. while the return flight from the city international airport departed at around 3 p.m.
“Tigeriar looks forward to offering additional flight and destination options for its guests,” Tigerair legal and corporate affairs chief Leilani de Leon said.
Tigerair, a sister company of leading airline Cebu Pacific, offered budget fares with the lowest one-way ticket starting at Php 2,008 with the launching of its flights.
The airline is using Airbus A320 aircraft, which has a capacity of 180 passengers, for its flights to and from this city.
It will depart Manila at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and will arrive in General Santos at 2:20 p.m. On Mondays, it will depart Manila at 2 p.m. with scheduled arrival of 3:50 p.m.
The return flight will leave General Santos at 3 p.m. every Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. On Mondays, it will depart at 4:30 p.m. and at 3:10 p.m. on Thursdays.
Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 12 director, said Tigerair’s entry into the Manila-General Santos City route would augur well for the region, especially its thriving tourism sector.
“It will boost the local economy and provide additional facilities for connectivity,” she described Tigerair’s decision to service the area’s increasing passenger traffic.
The city is currently the region’s airline hub and has seen a surge in traffic following the entry of budget airfares here several years ago.
Such situation helped boost the region’s tourism sector, which posted around 1.67 million in arrivals from January to September this year.
Prior to the entry of Tigerair, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific serves four to five daily flights for the Manila-General Santos route.
PAL uses the wide-bodied Airbus 330-300 aircraft while Cebu Pacific, which serves three additional weekly flights each for the Iloilo-General Santos and Cebu–General Santos routes utilizes Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft.
Low-cost carrier Air Asia, which recently chartered flights to and from this city for the entourage of boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao’s fight last Nov. 23 in Macau, China, earlier signified to open daily flights soon for the Manila-General Santos route.
Dante Fernandez, administrative officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) here, said they expect passenger traffic to increase to more than 1,600 a day this Christmas season.
The airport presently serves an average of 1,000 passengers on a daily basis, he said.
The Department of Transportation and Communication has already submitted a Php900-million budget for the proposed construction of a new terminal building for the city airport here to address the increasing passenger traffic in the last several years.
The airport, which was built on a grant from the United States Agency for International Development, opened for commercial operations in 1996.
The General Santos City International Airport, which is classified by CAAP as an alternate international airport, mainly serves the air transport requirements of the greater part of Region 12.
Also known as Soccksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.(PNA)RMA/AVE/EGE