Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and Philippine Airlines (PAL) president and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert Santa Maria led the inaugural flight Sunday as the country's flag carrier reopened its Manila Pagadian Manila route.
Tugade said the reopening of the Manila Pagadian Manila route by PAL was a welcome development because if we are to put reality to the situation that Mindanao is the future of the country, then mobility and connectivity must be enhanced and established.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte wanted more development projects for Mindanao to boost its economy.
He also added that the reopening of the route by PAL is part of the development of this city airport pushed by three political leaders whom he calls the "trio delos kulit". He identified them as Mayor Samuel Co, Zamboanga del Sur 1st district Representative Divina Grace Yu, and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.
The three, he said, would call him to follow up on the improvement of the airport and here it is now.
The flag carrier previously opened the Manila Pagadian Manila when Co was then the mayor of this city. Co serve this city as mayor from 2001 to 2010.
However, the company stopped flying the route sometime in 2004, leaving the Cebu Pacific Air as the sole airline servicing the Manila Pagadian Manila route.
In a related development, Tugade said he has sent a team last week to inspect the progress of the renovation works at the airport terminal.
Tugade promised to return to inaugurate the project before the Holy Week in April, as well as to improve the airport's building, comfort rooms, and baggage counters.
Tugade said the local airport still cannot cater to evening flights as it lacks certain requirements, one of which is the length of the runway. He said the runway should be extended to 2.4 kilometers from the present length of 1.8 kilometers.
He urged Co, Governor Victor Yu and his congresswoman wife, Divina, to work to acquire the lands needed for the runway expansion.
SOURCE: PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY