Sunday, 05 February 2012 18:47 Manly M. Ugalde / Correspondent
region’s six provinces.
Destinations include Manila, Boracay and Palawan.
Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda who is also chairman of the regional development council hailed the investors behind new airline, saying it is the answer to the demand for growing passengers in the region and a boost to the local tourism industry.
Salceda is the brain behind the Bicol international airport project now on the second
phase of its construction. The proposed airport is located atop hilly Barangay Comon in Daraga, Albay overlooking the towns of Camalig, Daraga, and Legazpi City. The present airport is located in Legazpi City and has seven daily flights to Manila.
The new airline will have interconnecting flights described as the Bicol-Visayas-Palawan triangle route, according to Capt. Ramon Torres, president and chief operating officer of the South West Air Corp. that operates the newly registered Bicol Air Express.
Torres said the new airline will initially fly a 19-seater LET 410-E turbo-prop
aircraft, a British Norman Islander BNI 8-seater aircraft and Fokker 50 twin-engine turboprop with a maximum capacity of 50 passengers.
The Fokker plane, said Torres, will cover tourism destinations not serviced by other airlines while the British Norman Islander BNI 8-seater aircraft will penetrate remote tourist areas such as the Caramoan Peninsula in Camarines Sur and Masbate Island.
The 19-seater LET 410-E turboprop aircraft will interconnect the Bicol-Visayas-Palawan triangle route, Torres said.
Formal launching was initially scheduled on Feb. 10 but was moved to March 8 to coincide with the opening of the Naga City office.
Torres said that the carrier will open the Naga-Virac-Legazpi-Masbate-Caticlan, Kalibo-El Nido-Puerto Princesa routes during the March 8 launch.
The airline, the official said, will also ask the Civil Aeronautics Administration for a Naga-Manila route, saying they are optimistic the regional airline can accommodate the increased passenger traffic after its opening.
Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua said his province is being serviced four times a week by two airlines, and that on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, no carriers service the Manila-Virac route.
With the newest local airline servicing the regional route, passengers can now avail themselves of the fastest transportation means in addition to the regular sea transport going to the mainland via Tabaco City in Albay.
Cua said the new airline service will certainly boost the province’s tourism industry.