(STAR) South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) will launch today the airline’s twice a week flight from Manila to Borongan City in Eastern Samar.

Borongan City Mayor Fidel Anacta Jr. said that it’s all systems go for SEAIR to fly to the Borongan City airport as airline officials and the Air Transportation Office agreed that the local airport is ideal for passenger aircraft operations.

“The airport’s terminal in Barangay Punta Maria had already checked as final requirements for landing,” Anacta said.

Philippine Air Force C-130 cargo planes have been using the airport, with a 1,199-meter runway, to transport relief goods for calamity areas in Eastern Samar.

“This is a very welcome development for us. Both the provincial and city government put up a subsidy of P2 million to make sure that airline operations will be sustained if in case there will be passenger shortage,” Anacta said.

The maiden flight of Seair will leave Metro Manila at 10:50 a.m. and is expected to arrive in Eastern Samar after an hour and eight minutes flight.

The airline will use a German-built Dornier 328, which could carry 32 passengers. It is one of the fastest and most advanced jet propeller aircrafts in the world.

Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, Seair president Avelino Zapanta, Borongan City Mayor Anacta, League of Mayors president Javier Zacate, and Seair vice president for commercial affairs Patrick Tan will be on board the maiden flight.

The flights from Manila to Borongan vice versa will operate every Mondays and Fridays with a one-way rate of P3,500.

The local government will build up temporary shelter to accommodate passengers in the Borongan City airport where there is still no passenger terminal. At least P300 million is needed to upgrade the Borongan airport.

The local government unit will allocate more funds to improve the road from the highway to the airport.

Seair decided to operate in Borongan to promote Eastern Samar’s potential as an eco-tourism destination. They consider the area as a good place to invest for surfing camps.

Among the destinations cited by Seair were several waterfalls in the Borongan City including Tres Marias, Masakpasak, Hinahanginan, Binabalarawan, Cansoriyaw, Mono, Pangi, Tagpuyucan, Bihid, Kaputian and Tumaligis Falls.

Cave exploration, white-water rafting, and diving for coral reefs were among the reasons for tourist to fly to Eastern Samar.

Anacta said that with the Seair operations, travel time from Borongan to Manila would be reduced from five hours to over one hour.

Travelers from Borongan City previously have to take a four-hour drive over rough roads to the Tacloban City Airport to the take a flight to Manila.

The government is also implementing the development of airport in Guiuan, Eastern Samar to support the commercial and tourism industry in the region, most especially Calicoan Island, an upcoming island resort for surfers.

Officials said this landmark flight is part of the economic development program of Gov. Evardone for Eastern Samar after the province was taken off the list of the country’s 20 poorest provinces.

“The populace of Eastern Samar has been waiting for this (Seair flights) for a very long time,” said Evardone.

“Less than a year has passed since our province’s graduation from ‘Club 20’ and concrete signs of development and progress have already started coming our way,” said Evardone.

He said that Seair’s venture in the province is just “the preliminary trigger” for more economic activities in the province, after the Philippine Airlines has committed to open the PAL Express flights to Eastern Samar in the future.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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