SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga - AirAsia is waiting for the government to provide the adequate infrastructure so that it can fly to San Vicente, the latest Palawan municipality to catch tourists' attention.
San Vicente's nearly 15-kilometer white sand beachfront is one of the emerging beach destinations in the Philippines after Boracay Island was closed to tourists in late April.
As of last month, most tourists would have to take either a chartered flight or a 4- to 6-hour trip by land from Puerto Princesa City to reach San Vicente's famous Long Beach.
"We'd like to [fly to San Vicente, Palawan] but the runway is still short," AirAsia Philippines President Dexter Comendador told reporters here.
Comendador said they have been working with the provincial government of Palawan to develop the airport so that more tourists can enjoy the attractions of San Vicente.
"We've been working with them (government)... Our plans are still based on how fast infrastructure can cope, how fast they can lengthen the runway," he said.
The search for the next Boracay: San Vicente, Palawan
AirAsia, however, is careful not to open too many flights to an island destination that may lead to the exploitation of an area, the airline's chief Tony Fernandes said.
"The Borcacay closure was a great eye-opener for us. When we go to a new business destination, we make sure that the infrastructure can take a wave of tourists," he said.
The government earlier banned tourists from entering Boracay for 6 months as the island undergoes a half-year clean-up and rehabilitation.
The island is expected to open by late October, or as soon as the government completes its road widening projects, sewage clean-up, and the recovery of wetlands and forestlands in the island.