26 March 2009
DAVAO CITY—Malaysia’s budget airlines is interested to service this city via Kota Kinabalu, a Filipino official of the BIMP-Eaga Business Council (BEBC) said.
Air Asia last year signified its interest to service the Davao City-Kota Kinabalu route and ask BEBC chairman Antonio Santos for help with its application in the Philippines.
“We have suggested to the airlines to fly three times a week for a start,” Santos said.
He said the airliner kept a low profile for a while “and may have probably studied its options in the middle of the global financial crisis.”
“But it has not canceled its interest to serve the route, and we would probably expect it to operate within the next three months,” Santos told a local business forum at the MediSpa Clinic in SM City here.
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah state, Malaysia, along the northwest coast of Borneo facing South China Sea. The industrial and commercial center of East Malaysia has a population of 579,304 and it is the largest urban center in Sabah, the sixth-largest in Malaysia.
It has become a crossroad in flights to known Asian destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong, and has been increasingly known for its tourism, attracting more than a million visitors annually.
Santos would not say why Air Asia has eyed Davao City for its expansion. He said the company extended the Davao City-Kota Kinabalu flight to serve longer destinations.
The new interest to service the route came as the two countries sped up bilateral transactions, including the adaption of uniform port tariff rates “in support of the incentive program for the development of air and sea transport services in the Philippines-Eaga [East Asean Growth Area].” Apart from the Philippines and Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei make up the BIMP-Eaga economic cooperation established in 1994.
Under the uniform port tariff, the two countries agreed that all ships from either country would have to pay $0.04 per gross tonnage in port dues and $0.02 as docking fee per day, or a fraction of it.
Santos said the agreement was contained in the memorandum circular of the Philippine Ports Authority “on Unilateral Application of BIMP-Eaga Uniform Port Tariff Rates for the Philippines and Malaysia.”
Aside from this bilateral agreement, the four countries also adopted incentive packages and, in the case of the Philippines, “the Civil Aeronautics Board issued a resolution granting 50-percent privileges on filing and regulatory fees for carriers operating within the designated points of BIMP-Eaga.”
The Bureau of Customs also revised its rates in paying overtime service of employees of seaports and airports under the BIMP-Eaga, Santos said.
The Philippines also revived the travel-tax exemptions to sea and air passengers from Mindanao and Palawan to any destination with the BIMP-Eaga.
“Business is brisk in the region despite the crisis. It is unlike in the Asian financial meltdown, when even the BIMP-Eaga was at a standstill,” he added.