AirAsia eyes flights from Davao to China, Malaysia, South Korea

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Low cost carrier AirAsia is eyeing flights from Davao City to China, Malaysia and South Korea, the Department of Finance said Monday.

In a statement, the DOF quoted AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes as saying that the airline was looking into expanding their flights to and from Davao, which are currently only connected to Singapore.

“There’s a big population here [in Davao City]. There’s a good business here. We met some farmers who wish to send their cargos directly to these places,” Fernandes told Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III during a recent meeting.

The DOF quoted Fernandes as saying that “there is a massive opportunity in expanding the tourism sector in the Philippines once the costs of air travel in coming here are made more affordable by budget airlines, whose pricing will depend on how much they are charged for the use of airport terminals.”

“The President mentioned the islands here and when I checked it, I said ‘wow, it’s really amazing’ and we are not worried about Marawi and all that because we think tourism is tourism. People want to come here at a right price,” Fernandes added. The AirAsia chief paid a courtesy call on President Duterte in July.

Also, Fernandes told Dominguez that “the lowering or scrapping of the airport or departure tax in small airports will help in realizing  the airline’s expansion plans in the Philippines.”

In response, Dominguez told Fernandes that he “will look into this possibility to help slash travel costs and boost trade and tourism,” while also considering “the possibility of airports selling or leasing gates to airlines at different rates depending on the landing times, in lieu of imposing airport taxes,” the DOF said.

“I have asked the DOF representatives in the airports to tell them to consider this differential pricing, selling gates, rather than a fixed tax,” the DOF quoted Dominguez as telling Fernandes.

Also, Dominguez, who was a former chair at flag carrier Philippine Airlines, “assured Fernandes that he will take a hard stand against the proposal to charge airlines for the overtime pay of Customs personnel at the airports,” according to the DOF.

“I don’t like it. We will get a hard stand on that. I used to complain about that when I was in PAL. You cannot earn 50 percent above your salary for overtime pay,” Dominguez was quoted by the DOF as saying.

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