MUTUAL BENEFIT. Taiwan Ambassador Wang (left) receives from AirAsia CEO Hontiveros a model plane during the launching of the new flights to Taipei City via Clark International Airport on Sunday.
Looking on is CIAC President and CEO Victor Jose Luciano. Photo by Joey Pavia
TAIPEI CITY – Officials of the Republic of China (Taiwan) on Sunday welcomed the 4th direct flight to this capital city from the Philippines and the first via the Clark International Airport (CIA) in Pampanga while expressing optimism that both Taiwan and the Philippines will benefit from the expected increased passenger traffic.
Ambassador Raymond L.S. Wang, head of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila, said “the launching of Air Asia Philippines’s new flight connection between Clark and Taipei exemplifies a significant progress in our two countries’ tourism and economic relations.”
Wang joined Phl-AirAsia CEO Marianne Hontiveros, 12 journalists and some 120 more passengers in the maiden flight that arrived at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at around 2:25 p.m. on December 16.
He said at least 103,000 Filipinos visited Taiwan in 2011.
He added that the Taiwanese market on the other hand comprised the 5th biggest visitor volume in the Philippines by providing 190,000 visitors from January to October 2012 as stated in the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Industry Performance.
Ireneo Reyes, head of the DOT office in Taipei, said the direct flights from the Philippines are from Manila, Kalibo in Aklan and Cebu City.
He added that the latest from AirAsia will increase the weekly average of 40 flights per week to 44. The budget airline based in Clark will fly four times a week to Taiwan, which has over 23 million people with at least eight million residing in the capital.
He said the DOT and their counterpart in Taiwan are working to increase tourist arrivals in both countries.
Gilda Padua, president of the Alliance of Travel and Tours Agencies of Pampanga (ATTAP) who joined the delegation led by Hontiveros, said her group has advocated for the increase of “inbound” flights to the CIA.
There were 297 flights per week at the CIA before AirAsialauched new international routes to Singapore on December 15 and to Taipei the following day.
Reyes said there was a “significant” increase in arrivals of passengers from Taiwan to the Philippines in the past two years. He added that there were “only” some 90,000 in 2009.
Reyes said there will be over 200,000 tourists from Taiwan this year.
Liu ChihChing, TaoyuanAerotropolis director, joined Reyes and Hontiveros in the press conference at the airport here on Sunday afternoon.
Hontiveros said the Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) will “greatly benefit” from their new route.
“AirAsia’s newest routes seek to better serve our overseas Filipinos while helping drive tourist traffic by providing more low-cost options for travel,” said Hontiveros.
According to the latest data from the Philippine Embassy, there are 177,600 Filipinos in Singapore working as professionals and domestic helpers while there are more than 100,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan.
“The excitement is building up in Clark with our newest routes.AirAsia guests will benefit from our extensive network spanning across 85 destinations in 24 countries in Asia and Australia.
Now, they can have a winter Christmas in Taipei or treat the whole family to New Year merrymaking in Singapore or host abarkada beach party in Boracay.
We will take them there and beyond with our signature low fares, reliable and on-time service,” Hontiveros added.
AirAsia is the only carrier offering 4x/week services on Clark International Airport – Taipei route with flights departing at 12:05PM and arriving at Taoyuan International Airport at 2:00PM.
Taipei is the low fare airline’s fifth and newest regional destination following Clark-Singapore with daily flights departing at 6:10AM and arriving Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 9:40AM.
To provide ultimate comfort for guests, Philippines’ AirAsia services the new routes using brand new Airbus A320, the youngest fleet at only 11months of age.
In addition to the new routes, AirAsia also increased its daily flight frequency between Clark andHong Kong with additional evening flights every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or a total of 10 flights a week.
“Our newest routes and additional frequencies provide yet another opportunity for our Filipino workers from Central and Northern Luzon who are working in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei to have access to AirAsia’s low fare, high value travel experience,” Hontiveros said.