CLARK FREEPORT — A small cooperative formed in 1982 by 15 combat pilots of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and now with assets worth P15 billion launched its first charter plane service with the arrival here of its new Fokker 50 aircraft last Friday.
Retired Lt. Col. Allan Ballesteros, said the 50-seater turbo-prop aircraft landed here to ceremonies fit for international airlines, including a water cannon arc welcome from the Clark International Airport fire department.
Ballesteros, who is spokesperson of the cooperatve, said the aircraft was the first to be purchased by the Leading Edge Air Services Corp. (Leascor), a subsidiary wholly owned by Aviation Cadet Development Inc. (ACDI) which first registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in 1982.
He said the Fokker 50 was the first aircraft be purchased by Leascor for the cooperative’s first charter plane service enterprise based in this freeport.
Ballesteros said the ACDI multipurpose cooperative was organized in 1982 by 15 combat pilots of the 15th Strike Wing who then flew the “Tora-Tora” planes and Sikosrsky helicopter gunships during the secessionist war of Nur Misuari in Mindanao.
“It grew in assets to become one of the biggest and most successful cooperative recognized by the CDA. ACDI is actively contributing to the country’s development by way of its aviation school based in Poro Point, La Union and providing employment by way of its air charter business handled by Leascor,” he said.
Ballesteros, who used to be spokesperson of the PAF here at Clark, recalled that by 1992, ACDI broke into the “millionaire’s column”
“In 2002, ACDI broke into the billionaire column and created subsidiaries like the KoopKing who operates a lending, general services and land transportation business for ACDI members; RAMCEL Convenient Bag Corp. that operates convenience stores for ACDI members, and in 2007 opened up the Leading Edge International Aviation Academy Inc. (LEIAAI) in Poro Point, la Union,” he said.
He said that aviation academy was a brainchild of retired Maj. Gen Gilbert Llanto, one of the original 15 cooperative founders, and has since produced pilots who were employed by big private airlines. Ballesteros noted that also in 2002, ACDI created its agri-business division that is into agriculture and food production.
“In 2014, the CDA recognized ACDI Multipurpose Cooperative as one of the biggest and most successful cooperative with an asset base of P15 billion,” he stressed.
He said that two years later, ACDI created the Leascor as an “air charter company and to provide employment to graduates of LEIAAI.”
Also created last year was the King Aces Travel and Tours Inc. (KATTSI) as complementary business to Leascor and ACDI’s other subsidiaries,he added.