Philippines' Iloilo airport readies for int'l flights

Iloilo City (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Iloilo international airport of the Philippines will start hosting direct international flights on Thursday, a move seen as a "big boost" to tourism for Iloilo and Western Visayas region.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific will launch an inaugural flight to Hong Kong with a programme at 6pm, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional director, Helen Catalbas. Departure time is 11:10pm.

Cebu Pacific flights to Singapore will commence on November 9, three times a week. The Iloilo-Hong Kong flights will be twice a week.

Tourist arrivals are expected to increase significantly in Western Visayas with the opening of regular international flights along with regional flights earlier this year from the Iloilo airport in Cabatuan town outside the city. The 8.76-billion peso (US$212.26 million) airport opened in June 2007.

Catalbas estimated a 15-per cent increase in domestic and foreign tourist arrivals this year from last year's total number of 2.47 million.

The inaugural flight from Hong Kong is scheduled to arrive in Iloilo at 4:45am on November 9, carrying the heads of 10 Filipino migrant workers groups and Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Noel Servigon.

The maiden flight from Singapore will arrive in Iloilo at 6:10am on November 10 with representatives of 12 Singaporean travel agencies onboard, according to Catalbas.

With the start of direct international flights, Iloilo becomes the fifth Cebu Pacific hub after Manila, Cebu, Clark and Davao.

Last week, the DOT turned over to the Bureau of Immigration six computer units to be used for scanning and verifying passports of foreign passengers.

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