NEW HUB. In the photo for the trailblazing event are President Duterte, transportation secretary Arthur Tugade, and Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei.
Public-Private Partners invest in Northern Mindanao
The public and private sectors have joined forces to invest in the future of Laguindingan as an airport hub linking Northern Mindanao to the rest of the island and the Visayas.
In a brief ceremony held Friday, October 20 at Laguindingan Airport, Misamis Oriental, (IATA: CGY) top executives of the country’s leading airline and chief executives of the government from the national, regional and local levels launched the facility as the 7thRegional Hub of Cebu Pacific Air (PSE: CEB).
“Despite the current situation in Marawi City, Cebu Pacific has seen the promise of what Mindanao can be, and can become in the coming years,” said Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
“Laguindingan serves thousands of passengers daily and is integral to economic activity in the Cagayan-Iligan Corridor,” noted Marvin Cui, Director, CEB Standards and Compliance for Airport Services. “Earlier we launched two new flights to and from CGY: Cagayan de Oro to Caticlan, and Cagayan de Oro to Dumaguete. CEB is flying from Cagayan de Oro to Boracay and Dumaguete three times a week.”
“Starting today, the entire Cebu Pacific network will have nine direct connections to and from Cagayan. Manila, Bacolod, Davao, Zamboanga, Cebu, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, and starting today, Caticlan and Dumaguete,” Cui said.
“As the leading airline, Cebu Pacific has been operating here since 1996 and needs to further expand by pushing for inter-island connectivity around the Philippines, and in connecting more islands from Mindanao to Visayas, and to the rest of the archipelago,“ he added.
“Laguindingan is the gateway to Northern Mindanao. When we started in 1996, actually Cagayan de Oro was our 4th destination, and today it’s still our 4th largest destination,” said Lance Gokongwei, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cebu Pacific. “We now have 146 weekly flights out of Laguindingan to nine destinations in the Philippines and we want to promote tourism and business in a region that deserves more attention and access.”
“That’s our mission, to create access for all Filipinos not only to Metro Manila but to all other cities. With the help of Cebu Pacific, many destinations are being discovered and we hope such destinations in Northern Mindanao will be discovered and we’ll do our own little part of make that possible,” he added.
In for the Long Term
“It’s actually quite timely if we need to develop the hub and location-wise, geographically it’s also a good central location to connect to the other islands in the Visayas and Mindanao,” said Candice Iyog, CEB Vice President, Marketing and Distribution, on the sidelines of the event.
“When we enter a market the intention is always to do long-term. Because the time, the effort to actually set up a hub operationally, resource-wise, is the same whether it’s a short-term or a long-term. So when we come into a market, it’s really with the full intention of developing it and growing it,” she added.
“We always view the government as our partners. We work closely with the Dept. of Transportation (DOTr) and its associate agencies, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in making sure that all processes and infrastructure are in place, and we work closely with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in promoting destinations in our place,” Gokongwei noted.
“We are also very supportive of the government’s moves to really Build, Build, Build ... because that’s what we really need, more infrastructure if the aviation industry’s gonna grow, certainly we need more and better airports,” he added.
Engr. Jose G. Budiongan, airport/area manager for CAAP Area X, said Laguindingan airport is now gearing fup or the increased passenger traffic by opening another gate in addition to the existing two. An additional passenger lounge capable of seating 100 additional departing passengers is also in the works.
Besides Pres. Duterte, among the national government luminaries who graced the event were DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade, DOTr Usec. for Aviation Capt. Skee Tamayo, DOT Asec. Ricky Alegre; DTI Asec. Art Boncato, and Capt Jim Sydiongco, CAAP Director-General.
Regional officials were led by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Mindanao Development Authority Sec. Abul Khayr Alonto, Phividec Industrial Authority CEO and Administrator Franklin Quijano, and Rep. Juliette Uy, 2nd District, Misamis Oriental.
Local chief executives were led by host Laguindingan Municipal Mayor Diosdado Obsioma, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar M. Moreno, and Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano.
Besides Gokongwei, Iyog and Cui, other top CEB Executives present were Alexander G. Lao, President & CEO of Cebgo; Alex B. Reyes, Vice President, Cargo Division; Michael Ivan Shau, Vice President, Airport Services; and Atty JR Mantaring, Vice President, Corporate Affairs.
Asked about the proximity of international flights landing in Laguindingan Airport, Gokongwei replied: “I think international flights are something we should look at in the next two years because generally if a hub already has many domestic connections, that means there’s enough support as possibly an international destination, and that’s something we’ll seriously consider.”
“We are considering opening flights to the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) maybe in the future, as preparations improve for airports and all that, we will probably start flights of our international airports from Davao and Cagayan de Oro and the like from Mindanao to the Indonesian islands, like Sandakan, like Malaysia,” he added.
Cebu Pacific Mission
In his brief talk during the launching program, Gokongwei disclosed how a letter addressed to him epitomized the mission of Cebu Pacific to serve "EveryJuan," the airline's tagline.
He said Apple Uy of Cagayan de Oro wrote him a letter asking him last June as a parent to another parent, if Cebu Pacific would consider opening a direct flight to Dumaguete from Laguindingan so she and her daughter could see each other more frequently.
“I thanked her for the letter and told her we would look into it. Four months later, we announced the direct Cagayan de Oro to Dumaguete service, the main flight of which was being sent off this afternoon,” Gokongwei said.
“It’s circumstances like the Uy family’s that give meaning to what Cebu Pacific does. It adds them to the islands we connect, and the low fares we offer. Today, with direct flights to Dumaguete and Caticlan, Cagayan de Oro has become one of our hubs in the Philippines,” he explained. “From this hub, passengers in Cebu Pacific flights can now fly direct to nine Philippine destinations and beyond.”
“With this as a hub, a tourist from Boracay can now easily explore this region’s diverse natural attractions. Small businesses can flourish with additional cargo options, and seat sales enable families and couples to visit their loved ones more,” Gokongwei noted.
“What was originally the fourth destination of Cebu Pacific in 1996 is now a hub. It follows the path of Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, also as hubs,” he explained. “Today is a testament to our long standing commitment to contribute to nation-building, and make air travel more accessible to all Filipinos. We look forward to the effect our low fares and direct flights will have on Northern Mindanao.”