Despite concerns on the state of global economy, local airline South East Asian Airlines (Seair) is commencing its international operations with an inaugural flight to Malaysia this Friday.
Seair will begin flying between Puerto Princesa in the Philippines' western region of Palawan and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia by November 28.
In a statement, the company said it will add four other Asian cities to its international portfolio by summer next year. It said Singapore and Macau will be the priority destinations, followed by Bangkok and Hongkong.
Seair is leasing two units of Air Bus A-320, which will be delivered in the first quarter of 2009, marking the airline's budget operation out of Clark to other parts of Southeast Asia next year.
Regulatory barriers to these Asian destinations have been relaxed through various bilateral air rights negotiations this year. Stakeholders from Clark in central Luzon have successfully pushed for the inclusion of Clark as one of the specified airports on which international flights would be launched.
Two weeks ago, another local airline, Cebu Pacific, had launched flights commencing from Clark to four Asian destinations, similar to those being eyed by Seair for next year.
For expanding amidst uncertain global business environment, Seair president Avelino Zapanta explained that "the Philippines will be more resistant to the global phenomenon. The continuous growth of the economy and stability in the industrial and commercial sectors augurs well in sustaining tourism. The airline industry will benefit from this as it poses mutual positive impact on the players of the tourism industry."
Seair has been active in servicing the route between Manila and Caticlan, the jump-off point to the island paradise, Boracay.
Seair has also been focusing on niche markets by servicing mostly secondary domestic routes with great tourism potentials. Soon, Basco in Batanes province, Baler in Aurora province, Tablas in Romblon island province, and Borongan in Eastern Samar province will be added to their niche portfolio.
“We believe in tourism as the industry of the future for the Philippines. Seair wishes to continue to contribute in the tradition of its pioneering effort that started 14 years [ago],” said Patrick Tan, Seair's vice president for commercial affairs.