Philippine Airlines’ maiden flight to Antique landed at the Evelio B. Javier Airport in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique on Sunday morning.
The new route will not only realize the longtime dream of many Antiqueños to be able to fly directly from their home province to Clark International Airport, but more so to South Korea, PAL Corporate Communications vice president Jose Enrique Perez de Tagle said during the Antique-Clark inaugural flight send-off ceremony at the airport.
De Tagle said PAL Express would also allow residents to fly conveniently to Manila and to PAL’s 17 other domestic destinations like Cebu and Palawan through their growing hub in Clark.
“You may now fly from Clark to Seoul Incheon in South Korea also,” de Tagle said.
He said PAL, although it was only short-lived, had serviced Antique in the 1960s and 1970s.
Transportation Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo, who spoke in behalf of Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, said he return of PAL to Antique is another historical milestone.
“After 12 years ago, the airport has returned to commercial operation,” Tamayo said.
With the flag-carrier now coming back to Antique, more locals may fly more often, he added.
He further said PAL’s return, being the only airport in Antique, will spur the development of the whole province.
“Patronize the flight to sustain it,” he told the Antiqueños.
The PAL executive recalled that with the previous flights like that of the Asian Spirit—the latest airline to fly in Antique 10 or 12 years ago—stopped operation because it was not economically viable due to fewer passengers flying, preferring the roll-on roll-off.
The new route of PAL, through 86-seater PR- C5910, flies from Clark to Antique and vice versa every Sunday and Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Department of Tourism Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III, who traces his family roots from Antique, said Antiqueños must treat the airline and the airport like their “babies,” nurturing them so these may grow.
He said the airline operation in Antique will further sustain the tourist arrivals in the province.
Antique Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao, who was a former flight attendant of PAL, said that when the PAL Express touched down at the airport, memories flashed back to her mind.
“Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Captain Jim C. Sydiongco was then my former boss and pilot,” Cadiao said.
She added that the longtime dream of Antiqueños was realized because of Senator Loren Legarda, whose dream for Antique was shared by the PAL management. That is to help spur the local economy and boost trade and tourism in the province through the airport’s operation.
Meanwhile, Antiqueños who enjoyed the maiden flight are encouraging others to also patronize PAL’s flight from Antique.
Ronnie Vicedo, who is on vacation with his family, said they are so lucky to have been part of the historic event, and so far, they had a “very pleasant experience on board” the PAL Express.
“I am encouraging other Antiqueños to fly through PAL,” he said.
He added he was happy that the PAL management has decided to once more operate in the province, so that many tourists and Antiqueños now working and residing abroad can come home more often.
“Antique is a very peaceful place and good for everyone to come and visit,” he said.
His wife Glenda added they had last come home to Antique about 12 years ago from Australia, and they are happy they were able to take the maiden flight.
Also, retired public school teacher Rosanne Tordesillas Labao from Sibalom town, who is taking the flight from Antique to Clark, said she was “very happy” with the development in Antique.
“It is now easier for us to travel to Manila with the airline operation in San Jose de Buenavista,” she said.
Labao said she and other Antiqueños had a hard time going to Manila through the Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan town before, as they had to spend more than two hours commuting through the public transport.
“There are times when we feel tense that we might not be able to catch our flight,” she said.
But now with the PAL Express flying from Antique to Clark twice a week, she said she just has to take the tricycle from her hometown, which is next to San Jose de Buenavista, where the Evelio B. Javier airport is located.
Labao said the airport is just about 30 minutes from her home.
“Let us patronize the flight because this is a big privilege for us, Antiquenos,” she said.
Also, now encouraged to fly are the 6,000 teachers of the Department of Education Antique Division, for their conferences in the different parts of the country.
DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla, who came for the occasion, said that with the PAL operation in Antique, the public school officials and teachers from the province can now conveniently travel and attend their conferences by taking the flight directly from Antique to Clark and to other domestic destinations.