AirAsia hub at Davao, Philippines ‘unlikely’ say officials

Philippines AirAsia (Z2, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int’l) is looking to develop a base at Davao, but local officials think the scheme is unlikely without better airport management. Speaking with Business World Online, Arturo M. Milan, trustee of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated (DCCCII) said that the government needs to create an agency specifically to manage the airport.

“Right now, it is hard to convince airlines to maximize their presence here because we have a poorly managed airport,” Milan said. ” It can only be enhanced if a body like that of the one managing the airports in Cebu and the NAIA [Manila Ninoy Aquino Int’l] is created.”

In July, AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said that he was ‘definitely’ interested in turning Davao into a hub for international flights. He also announced a 4x weekly service from the airport to Kuala Lumpur Int’l to be operated by Malaysia’s AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int’l), its first international destination from the southern Filipino city.

Additionally, Fernandes called on the Philippine government to lift a travel tax at the airport to help the airline to grow there, reports Minda News.

“You’re not losing much by removing travel tax, for instance in Davao. Tourism department is not losing a lot,” he said.

Davao is currently under the management of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), a division of the Department of Transportation, which manages 85 airports across the island country. The CAAP plans to give Davao a ‘facelift’, but locals continue to push for the airport to have its own airport authority.

“CAAP is doing what it can with whatever funds that they have. If a Davao International Airport Authority is created, there will be cash back-ups,” said Generose Tecson, the head of the Davao City Tourism Operations Office.

Currently, Davao is served by 50,000 seats per week, predominantly to Manila and Cebu. Its sole international destination is Singapore Changi with 1,008 seats/week.

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