Besides continued air talks, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is counting on its hosting of an international aviation event in March next year to boost air connectivity in the Philippines.
The Philippines will pay host to Routes Asia 2016, an aviation event that gathers all aviation-based companies who wish to conduct business to, from and within the region.
It also brings together a range of airlines, airports and tourism authorities, including some of the largest carriers from the whole Asian region. The aviation event is slated to be held March 6 to 8, 2016.
DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. told reporters in an interview that the event was vital to helping the country acquire additional frequencies on existing and new routes.
Bengzon said that DOT was also looking at contracting a consulting firm to put together a data base on aviation that can be used to evaluate where the demand is and determine city pairing and what the underserved routes are.
He further said that the aviation data would help the department in crafting an enhanced aviation strategy for the Philippines.
“We need air connectivity more than any other country in Southeast Asia,” Bengzon said, noting that the Philippines did not enjoy the same cross border advantage as its neighboring countries Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
“Out of 4.8-million foreign visitors last year, 99 percent took planes. This is why air connectivity is important,” he added.
Bengzon further said that the dependence of Philippines in air connectivity was also the reason why the government adopted a “more civilized” aviation policy than the nine other ASEAN member states.
“This is why we have stepped up our bilateral air negotiations. We want air talks to be focused on countries that have been identified as priorities in the Philippines,” Bengzon said.
“When you talk about air talks, you look at interest of country in terms of tourism, in terms of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and in terms of investment. What we want is to where the demand is coming from,” he added.
The DOT official also pointed out that conducting air talks was a deliberate process that involved determining which countries will give the Philippines more opportunities.
“We need to know what the opportunity markets are. There’s no point in doing air talks if the document will just gather dust,” Bengzon said.
Hosted airline program
DOT is currently looking at including for the first time a hosted airline program which has not yet been done in previous Routes Asia.
“What we want is to host representatives of selected airlines to our destinations so that they get a better feel of what the potentials are,” Bengzon said.
Knowing where the demand is, they do their research, they know when an airline plans to fly to Philippines, they know which destinations need to be considered,” he added.
Routes Asia is organized by Routes business, a company focused on aviation route development. It is known for organizing and operating world-renowned airline and airport networking events.
To date, 60 airlines have registered to attend the event and over 2, 000 face-to-face meetings are expected to take place on site.
Also expected to attend are over 900 aviation professionals, over 100 airlines, 200 airports, 30 tourism authorities and over 20 high level speakers. (PNA) Azer N. Parrocha/RMA