Executives of the Filipino-owned Southeast Asian Airlines Inc. (SEAIR) were welcomed by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte as it launched its first ever flight from Manila Domestic Airport to Laoag International Airport (LIA) last April 4.
Utilizing an Airbus Industrie A320, the inaugural flight was led by SEAIR Chief Executive Officer Olive Ramos who, along with other SEAIR officers, arrived in Laoag at 3:00 PM and was warmly greeted by Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Angelo Marcos-Barba, Provincial Administrator Atty. Windell Chua, and Provincial Tourism Officer Ianree Raquel.
In a press conference, Ramos said that SEAIR chose Ilocos Norte to their domestic destinations for its fast-paced growth in terms of tourism, investments, business activities, and employment, citing the last year’s summer tourist upsurge of 680,000 as an example.
“We have chosen Laoag because we believe in the potential of the North,” Ramos added.
Asked on how they will compete with bus companies and other air carriers, she said, “We are making our fare comparable to the bus fare, yet with more convenience. What we offer here is the value of time you can save—in our flight, it will only take you one hour and 25 minutes compared to 12-hour road travel—and our quality customer service.”
On his brief presentation, SEAIR Vice President for Commercial Jose Laurente discussed the airline’s flight destinations and services, saying that SEAIR has “good safety records.” He also demonstrated how their internet-tied booking system through the site, tigerairways.com, works.
SEAIR is a 40-percent-owned associate airline of a Singapore-based low-coast carrier, Tiger Airways.
The airline offers domestic flights from the Manila Domestic Airport or Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 4 to Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Bacolod, and Boracay (via Kalibo).
SEAIR also flies to Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Boracay (via Kalibo) from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga.
With Laoag in the list, SEAIR now offers daily Manila-Laoag flights scheduled at 1:00 PM and Laoag-Manila flights at 3:00 PM, using airbuses A319 and A320 which can both accommodate up to 180 passengers.
At present, LIA accommodates three existing airlines, SEAIR, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines, all with connecting flights from Manila to Laoag.
It may be recalled that SEAIR had planned to setup a flight in Ilocos Norte as early as the term of the then Governor Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. but it did not push through.
Governor Imee Marcos is enthusiastic that such additional flight will contribute to the province’s industry, especially on tourism, with its successful launch set just in time to cater to the anticipated bulk of tourist arrivals this coming May.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO