Cebu Pacific: Bacolod to Hong Kong May Not Be a Dream

Since the abandonement of Zest Air's Bacolod to Seoul service, the city has been eager to recruit a new carrier to give international flights another shot.

Local politicians and members of the business community are frustrated with the lack of international service as they watch neighbouring cities, Cebu and Iloilo, reap the rewards. With the opening of the new Bacolod-Silay airport a few years ago, locals say that the city is more than equipped to host foreign flights but all they need is an airline willing to do so.

bacolod silay airport
Photo Source: WikiMedia
Zest Air cancelled the first ever international flights from Bacolod-Silay airport to Seoul, Korea citing weak demand. Bacolod is a popular golfing destination for Koreans. But it was later revealed that of the alleged 10 flights that were chartered by Korean golfers, only three were accommodated due to a lack of immigration infrastructure and resources. It was rumoured that the Department of Immigration wanted flights rerouted to Iloilo. That was unacceptable to former Bacolod Mayor, Evelio Leonardia who immediately sent a letter to the Immigration Commissioner demanding the necessary equipment and personnel be supplied so that the airport would be prepared to host international flights.

In January 2013, it was reported that the Immigration Commissioner had approved the request and that work would begin the following month so that whether or not Bacolod had international flights, the airport would be prepared and equipped to handle them. The goal was to have everything operational by June 2013 as Bacolod is apparently expecting another 10 chartered flights from Korean golfers over the months of June and July.

Meanwhile, Bacolod Mayor-elect Monico Puentevella isn't wasting any time tackling the issue of international flight service. Puentevella, a former three-term Congressman, recently met with Lance Gokongwei, President & CEO of Cebu Pacific to discuss the potential of launching scheduled international flight service from Bacolod in the future.

Puentevella says that if Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao can do it, so can the city of Bacolod. The Mayor-elect would like to see new flight service to Macau, Singapore, Korea, and Hong Kong. "Bacolod needs to have these flights in order to draw foreign investors and tourists into the City," says Puentevella. "Tourism in the city will flourish, businesses will grow, and we're merely just scratching the surface."

According to the Negros Daily Bulletin, Puentevella and Gokongwei agreed for Cebu Pacific to launch two weekly direct flights between Bacolod and Hong Kong starting in 2014. For Puentevella, this is just the start of what will be a long and steady partnership.

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