CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Fair weather greeted Philippine Airlines (PAL) as it inaugurated on Thursday morning, June 9, its first-ever commercial flight from Cotabato to Tawi-Tawi, a development hailed as a historic event and a game-changing route in the country’s southernmost province.
PAL’s narrow-body Airbus A320 flew for about an hour, reaching an altitude of approximately 32,000 feet, from the Awang Airport in Maguindanao to the Sanga-Sanga Airport in Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi.
The plane landed “very smoothly” in the Tawi-Tawi capital at around 8:51 am, said Charlito Manlupig, chairman of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, who was among the 180 people on Flight 2487.
Manlupig, who has been actively helping in peace-building efforts in Mindanao, said he felt “privileged to be a part of this historic event.”
The maiden flight from Cotabato to Tawi-Tawi and the 10:14 am flight back to Cotabato were fully booked, according to Manlupig.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) hailed the new PAL route which provides the first-ever air links within the predominantly Muslim special region.
BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim said the direct flights would spur the region’s economic development and tourism, specifically in Tawi-Tawi, a province at the southern tip of the Philippines near the Malaysian and Indonesian sea borders.
PAL’s direct flights there are now available on Mondays and Thursdays, departing from Cotabato at 7:30 am, and Tawi-Tawi at 9:40 am, and significantly reducing travel time that once took at least 46 hours to just an hour. – Rappler.com
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