Philippine Airlines (PAL) will revive the Zamboanga City and Kota Kinabalu flights starting March 31 this year, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said in a statement on Tuesday.
MinDa said travelers, businessmen, and locals from both areas "can now explore each other's destinations and do business for an hour and forty five minutes".
Kota Kinabalu, a coastal city best known for its markets and beaches, is the capital of Sabah, a Malaysian territory where the Philippines maintains a dormant claim.
The Zamboanga-Kota Kinabalu air connectivity is a major BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area) project under the Transport Cluster in convergence with the Joint Tourism Development (JTD) Cluster, MinDa said.
MinDA said Sabah Deputy Chief Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew has expressed optimism to the inaugural PAL flight from Zamboanga to Kota Kinabalu.
According to Chairman Carl Moosom of the BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) � Sabah Chapter, the carrier of the inaugural flight is a Bombardier 400 WD 86-seater aircraft with flight schedule on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Zamboanga to Kota Kinabalu (8 a.m.-9:45 a.m.) and from Kota Kinabalu to Zamboanga (10:45 a.m.-12:30 noon).
MinDa Secretary Emmanuel PiAol lauded the new milestone in the BIMP-EAGA sub-region, particularly in the connectivity sector.
Last 27 September 2019, we reopened the Davao�Manado route through Garuda Indonesia Airlines, and now we have Zamboanga � Kota Kinabalu that will surely enhance the tourism and business community of Western Mindanao, including the BASULTA (Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi) island provinces, he said.
PiAol, who is also the Philippine signing minister for BIMP-EAGA, added that the new development is a concrete proof that Mindanao is economically prepared to be the gateway to the BIMP-EAGA, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Asian regions.
"This connectivity will support our efforts in strengthening the Mindanao barter trade," he added.
MinDA said it expects that the flights will spur more trade and economic activities between Mindanao and the rest of the BIMP-EAGA sub-region, particularly Malaysia.
Source: Philippines News Agency