The inaugural flight of Hawaiian Airlines (HA) to Manila April 15 signified confidence in the safety of Philippine airports.
Thus enthused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she received officers of Hawaiian Airlines who paid a courtesy call on her in Malacanang.
The President welcomed HA president and chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Dunkerley and his team at the Palace's Music Room, and congratulated them on the maiden flight of their 21-plane fleet to the Philippines It was also HA's first flight to the Asian region.
Dunkerley said he was willing to attest to the safety of Philippine airports and offered to help work with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the safety issue.
The President encouraged Dunkerley to meet with Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza to coordinate efforts on the FAA review of the safety standards of Philippine airports. Mendoza heads the Philippine Aviation Authority (PAA).
Dunkerley informed the Chief Executive that even before the HA decided on the direct Honululu-Manila flight, all of the airline's business-process outsourcing (BPO) activities were already being done out of the Economic Zone in Baguio City.
He added that HA is "extremely impressed and pleased with the skills of the people" working for his company in the country's summer capital.
The HA's direct Honululu-Manila flight was the first to the Asian region for the Hawaiian airliner, said Dunkerley, who also explained that while they have had opportunities to fly to other countries in the region like Japan, they "purposely chose to make the Philippines as their first destination in Asia."
Hawaiian Airlines flies to 10 destinations, including the US mainland, Australia, Samoa and Tahiti.
Noting that the increase in airline traffic will depend on the number of people able to travel to the United States, Dunkerley also committed to "work with US government authorities on the issue of visas for Filipino travellers."
President Arroyo extended her good wishes for Hawaiian Airlines, and expressed optimism that there would be more two-way travel between the Philippines and Hawaii.
With Dunkerley during the Palace visit were HA executives Hoyt H. Zia, John R. (Keoni) Wagner, and Ms. Janette Freeman.
They were accompanied to Malacanang by Philippine Consul General to Hawaii Ariel Abadilla and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Lourdes Yparraguire.