MANILA -- Starting December 15, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will offer the Clark – Virac route thrice weekly, the airline said Wednesday.

PAL cited that there is a clamor for it among the residents of Catanduanes, and that Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento has been in constant talks with the airline about the expanded air links to the province.

The flag carrier said Representative Sarmiento pointed out that the expanded route would benefit the tourism and economic activities of Pampanga and Catanduanes.

In a statement, PAL president Jaime Bautista said this new offering expands the airline’s domestic route network as well as its hub in Clark International Airport to offer passengers with more choices.

According to him, PAL acknowledges the needs of the public, especially the untapped markets. It may be recalled that PAL started operating in Clark, its Pampanga hub, last December.

Having a Pampanga hub is PAL’s contribution to help ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

Since PAL targets the residents of central and northern Luzon, Tarlac, Pampanga for this hub, this is the airline’s way to help reduce the volume of cars in Metro Manila since there would be no need for these residents to go the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

At present, PAL offers the following routes in its Pampanga hub: Clark – Basco, Clark-Busuanga, Clark-Caticlan, Clark-Cebu, Clark - Puerto Princesa and Clark-Incheon. (PNA)