COTABATO CITY, Philippines – A water canon salute greeted a Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) 80-seat Q-400 plane from Cebu City as it landed at the Cotabato-Awang airport in Maguindanao del Norte on Thursday morning, December 1.
It was the maiden flight of the plane that provided an air link between the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and Cebu City in the Visayas.
The plane landed around 7 am, ahead of schedule, with 33 passengers on board, before it flew again for Tawi-Tawi province.
BARMM Trade, Investment, and Tourism Director-General Rosslaini Alonto-Sinarimbo said the PAL route would significantly boost the region’s tourism and economy.
Officials said it would also make travel from Tawi-Tawi province to Cotabato City, and Cebu City, and vice versa faster and more convenient.
The subsequent flight from the airport in Maguindanao del Norte to Tawi-Tawi was fully-booked, said PAL-Cotabato manager Delfin Tubera Jr.
On June 9, PAL started serving the Cotabato-Tawi-Tawi route sans Cebu.
Tubera said Thursday’s maiden flight was timely because of the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival which kicked off on Thursday, and the December holidays.
“This is very exciting. We know how important Cebu City is in terms of facilitating trade, bringing in investments, and tourism. We can do a lot of marketing promotion with this,” said Maritess Maguindra, BARMM director for tourism.
Cotabato resident Drema Quetayin Bravo said the new PAL route was timely for her because she was scheduled to travel to Baguio.
“Instead of traveling by bus from Manila to Baguio, I can take a plane to Cebu which has a direct flight to Baguio,” Bravo said. – Rappler.com