Skyjet Airlines has resumed its flights on the Manila-Catanduanes route on Oct. 15, according to Joel Mendoza, chief executive officer of this new player in the country’s aviation industry.
Owned by Magnum Air Inc., Skyjet started flying the route in mid-April this year just to be suspended last July to resolve management issues that affected its operations.
Mendoza said that despite the flight suspension, the company has mounted its 94-seater, four-engine British Aerospace 146-200 jet in servicing the Virac (Catandunes)-Manila route every Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.
The flight resumption will be in time for the Catandungan Festival, a three-day celebration of the province' anniversary on Oct. 24-26 at Virac, the provincial capital, he said.
The annual celebration draws plenty of homecomings and tourists who bustle around to join the merry-makings featuring street dancing of the famous Bicolano native dance called “Pantomina” and witness the crowning of the island's most beautiful lady, agro-industrial fair, grand parade and surfing competitions.
Spearheaded by the provincial government of Catanduanes, the celebration that sets the ambience of fun and pageantry as a celebration of life and lights was conceptualized as a season for Catandunganons to look into their past with appreciation and to make them aware of their history and culture as a people.
It is a celebration that showcases the Catandungan’s rich history, arts and culture, religious, trade and industry and tourism through a variety of special events, beauty pageant, sports, exhibitions, tournaments, recreation and bringing into life the Virac Heroes Memorial Fountain as the center of the events.
Servicing Catanduanes is part of Skyjet Arilines’ thrust to operate in underserved and unserved destinations in the country with great tourism potential, Mendoza said.
The island, separated from the mainland of Bicol by Maqueda Bay and sitting at the Pacific Ocean, is considered one of the promising eco-tourism areas in Bicol owing to its rich ecology and majestic coastal waters that offer exciting surfing and diving sites.
Minus Skyjet, Cebu Pacific serves as the only airline operating the Manila-Virac route three times a week – which is not enough for the growing number of tourists and other passengers coming to and from the province.
Mendoza said that inasmuch as the airline wants to promote Catanduanes as a tourism site, it has also arranged with SM mall theaters in Manila for the showing of video materials of the island’s tourist destinations.
The airline is also offering a special rate to local resort operators, who are allowed to book complete tour packages for their potential clients.
“Tourists will be provided with hassle-free travel -- complete with tickets, room and board, and airport transfers,” Mendoza said.
“Our fares will remain competitive and offer no hidden charges, no additional charges for seats, free snacks for short haul trip, affordable rates and more cargo space. We focus on safety and our aircraft can operate in the most challenging runways and weather conditions in the Philippines as certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines,” he said.
The airline has an initial fleet of two 94-seater, four-engine BAE 146-200 jets and is anticipating the arrival of another aircraft to charter passengers from Batanes to Kaoshiung, Taiwan and vice versa, Mendoza added. (PNA/Danny O. Calleja/CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/pjn)