New Delhi-Manila direct flights eyed this year

MANILAThe India embassy to the Philippines revealed that the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific intend to launch direct flights from Manila to New Delhi within the year.

"The Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are looking at direct flights between India and the Philippines in the latter part of this year," Ambassador of India to the Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar told reporters in a recent interview.

Cebu Pacific confirmed the information, revealing plans to operate thrice a week by end of 2018.

Cebu Pacific is requesting the CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board) for the allocation of three of the seven unallocated frequencies to India under the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippines and India," JR Mantaring, vice president for Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

"Cebu Pacific intends to operate three times weekly Manila-Delhi flights by later 2018, he added.

Mazumdar is optimistic these direct flights will further boost tourist exchange between the two states. "If you have direct flights, it's only six hours from New Delhi to Manila, that will really boost the tourism traffic."

In 2017, Indians were among the fastest growing tourism populations in the Philippines with an 18 to 19 percent increase from the previous years, said Mazumdar.

"Still not very large, about 120,000 Indians came to the Philippines, but it's growing very rapidly," he said, adding their locals are now looking at the country as a new destination "not yet explored."

"We have a population of 1.3 billion, the sky is the limit for tourist arrivals target."

Beaches as selling point

Mazumdar said the country's pristine beaches remain as the main draw for Indian tourists.

"The beaches are really the selling point and also the people being hospitable. The service industry is wonderful, people from India whenever they come here, they say that they feel welcome and at home," he said. "Your islands and beaches are really the most fantastic part here."

While the closure of Boracay may somehow affected the arrivals of Indians to the country, Mazumdar expressed strong support to the rehabilitation efforts undertaken by the government in the island.

"In the long run, it will be a good thing because you know, to make sustainable tourism you need to also concentrate on the infrastructure and to make it a sustainable tourist destination."

"I went to Palawan recently and I can see that if you don't maintain those place in the pristine beauty that they are in now, in the long run tourism will suffer. To make Boracay what it used to be some years ago, I think that's a good objective." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency