Philippine Airlines: Chartered Bacolod-Seoul Flights Declared Successful

Following the completion of the last chartered flight between Bacolod and Korea for the short two-month season, business owners and politicians in Negros Occidental are declaring the program a success after it infused an estimated P97 million into Bacolod's economy. 

philippine airlines bacolod silay airport
Image Source: Wikimedia
Philippine Airlines launched chartered flights between Bacolod and Seoul-Incheon last December. The national flag carrier operated flights between the two cities from December 24, 2015 to February 21, 2016. Flights were operated twice weekly by a 199-seat Airbus A321-200 aircraft every Wednesday and Saturday. 

Data released by Philippine Airlines indicates that 17 flights were operated by the carrier with an average of 150 Korean travellers on board each flight. According to an article in the Visayan Daily Star, Bacolod Representative Evelio Leonardia, estimates that if each of the approximate 2,500 tourists spent around $800 on accommodation, dining, shopping, tours, and golfing, that would amount to an injection of P97 million into the local economy. 

The chartered flights were organized by Mode Tours, one of the largest tour agencies in South Korea. The majority of the Korean tourists flew to Bacolod to enjoy a golf holiday. However, many brought their families, who participated in other activities such as shopping and sightseeing.

According to Leonardia, the success of the chartered flight program marks a new era for tourism in Bacolod. The last chartered flights between Bacolod and Korea were operated in 2012 by Zest Air. Since then, local stakeholders have been lobbying the Philippine government for the expansion of the airport and lobbying local carriers to launch international flights.

"With these direct flights, we launched Bacolod tourism on a more accelerated pace of development," said Leonardia. "The Korean golf holidays only lasted about two months but this impacts on our tourism heavily and put our city on the map of a very lucrative tourism market segment." He added that the project has also proven that Bacolod-Silay Airport is now ready for international flights, which will hopefully prompt the national government to expand its facilities.

In the past, charter passengers were forced to disembark at Iloilo Airport to clear customs before continuing onto Bacolod. The inconvenience of the itinerary led South Korean tour operators to halt sales of the tour packages until the issue was resolved. This led to the temporary suspension of charter flights, while representatives from Bacolod lobbied the national government for the installation of customs, immigration, and quarantine facilities at the airport. 

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