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MinDA, LEASCOR assess possible resumption of Davao-Manado air link

The Mindanao delegates of the first Filipino-initiated exploratory flight to Manado, North Sulawesi Indonesia strike a pose with the ATR-72 500 aircraft of Leading Edge Air Services Corporation (Leascor) in the background at Sam Ratulangi International Airport on Jan. 4, 2024. Leascor is a subsidiary of ACDI Multi-Purpose Cooperative and is run by retired and active AFP officials and uniformed personnel. Joel B. Escovilla

THE MINDANAO Development Authority (MinDA), together with the Leading Edge Air Services Corporation (LEASCOR), recently led a business mission to assess the possible resumption of the Davao-Manado air connectivity. 

The business mission was held in North Sulawesi, Indonesia on Jan. 4, 2024, assisted by the Philippine Consul General to Manado Lolita Capco. 

In a statement, Asec. Romeo Montenegro, MinDA deputy executive director said the mission was timely and a joint cooperative effort for the route’s revival. 

“We find this mission an opportune time in realizing this project. Hopefully, this time it will have more interactions, exchanges, and mobility between Manado – Davao, and the larger Mindanao and North Sulawesi,” Montenegro said. 

Flying via Leading Edge 70-seater ATR 72-500, the mission aims to assess the current market conditions and opportunities for reinstating the said air route which was halted by COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

Joji Ilagan-Bian, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) – Mindanao chairperson, also said the Manado-Davao EAGA initiatives might also revive the areas of tourism, trade, education, and agribusiness, among others. 

“We can look into reviving student internship and exchange programs among our schools, as well as joint hospitality, wellness, and cultural tourism undertakings,” Bian said. 

Meanwhile, Manado Mayor Hon. Andrei Angouw also shared that “learning from the past unsustainable resumptions of the route, key leaders and stakeholders of Davao – Manado including private sector players should develop a concrete and holistic approach.” 

A total of 33 passengers composed of MinDA, CAAP, and ACDI MPC officials, representatives of Davao-based chambers of commerce, dive tour operators, and members of Davao City Citizen Media Council (DCCMC) joined the mission. 

The route, which initially opened in May 2007 but was discontinued, was revived on September 27, 2019, with the maiden flight via Garuda Indonesia Airlines, operating on Mondays and Fridays. However, it also ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

The Davao – Manado air connectivity is part of the Mindanao – North Sulawesi gateways under the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan to link the Philippine archipelago to its ASEAN neighbors.

Davao City had a sisterhood agreement between Manado and Bitung since 1993, both located in North Sulawesi.

–Photos from MinDA


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