FOREIGN AIRLINES KEEN ON MINDANAO ROUTE
Davao City, Sept. 29, 1998 - Several foreign airlines are seriously interested in flying between Mindanao cities and other foreign airports to ferry export products which otherwise would continue to stay unshipped, causing daily losses amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos.
The airlines' offfers are backed by the Mindanao Business Council, which wrote President Estrada yesterday, suggesting that foreign freighters be given temporary permits to serve the cities of Cebu, Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga.
On the first day of PAL's closure, Joji Ilagan-Bian, the MBC chair, said exporters of tuna, cut flowers and fruits lost more than P60 million because 90 to 100 tons of perishable goods due for shipment could not leave the airports for lack of aircraft.
The losses will run up to hundreds of millions of pesos until air traffic to Mindanao is restored to normal.
The MBC endorsed a request by Corporate Air, to allow Federal Express to operate a domestic air freight service. Federal Express, based in Subic Bay, uses wide-bodied Airbus and MD-11 aircraft for transporting cargo.
Other foreign airlines are also interested in flying to Mindanao. Catalina Dakudao, regional director of the Department of Tourism said the Malaysian-owned Seaga Air held exploratory talks with Mindanao Express to establish air service between Malaysia and Davao through cities like Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro.
Ekran Berhad of Malaysia, owners of the Samal Casino Resort Hotel, was facilitating the talks between Seaga Air and Mindanao Express. Seaga Air had offered to fly in two Fokker 50s in Mindanao.
A Taiwan-based airline was also interested in flying chartered flights between Davao City and Taiwan.
Daryl Manzie, Australia's Northern Territory minister for Asian relations, suggested that overseas airlines be allowed to become partners in operating domestic routes. He told Mindanao businessmen last week that his government had lobbied with airlines and Australia's federal government to establish direct air linkage with Mindanao.
The service, he said, could start with the opening of a Manila-Davao route, then from Davao to Darwin, Townsville or Perth in Australia.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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