COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Philippine Airlines has decided to shut down its service to a number of Mindanao airports, including this city, Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. said Saturday.
Guiani told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that according to a communiqué furnished him, PAL would retain its service only to such airports as the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City and the General Santos International Airport.
In Zamboanga City, Celso Bayabos, local Air Transport Office manager, said PAL also informed local officials of its planned stoppage of flights between Manila and Zamboanga.
Bayabos said PAL signified its intention last month but local officials opposed it even though other airlines serve the same route.
PAL officials in Manila declined to comment on the reduced flights to Mindanao, saying the company would come out with a more appropriate announcement later.
Guiani said that even though other airlines, such as Air Philippines, service the Manila-Cotabato route, PAL’s decision to pull out “would surely affect us, especially our business community.”
He said the city government has already asked PAL to reconsider the decision but there has been no reply yet.
In the PAL communiqué, Guiani said, the airline company cited the closure of its Manila-Cotabato flight at the “soonest possible time” as part of a “strategy shift.”
PAL, he said, claimed it wanted “to give more focus on the international market after having acquired lately a number of new and bigger aircraft designed for international flights.”
“We are worried about [the decision’s] negative impact on the local economy,” he said.
Guiani said PAL’s decision to skip this city in its service could “send a bad message to businessmen, both local and international, that Cotabato City is not a good place to invest in.”
“That’s why we are appealing to be spared from the planned closure,” Guiani said.
With a report from Palo Montecillo, Philippine Daily Inquirer