NEW ROUTE. Philippine Airlines president and chief operating officer Capt. Stanley Ng (left) and Borongan City Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda show the signed memorandum of agreement between Philippine Airlines and the Borongan city government on Tuesday (Nov. 29, 2022). The flag carrier will launch the twice-weekly Cebu-Borongan flight on December 19. (Photo courtesy of Borongan city information office)

TACLOBAN CITY – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will launch the twice-weekly Cebu-Borongan flight on December 19, the city government of Borongan has said.

This was after local government officials and PAL signed on Tuesday a memorandum of agreement to start flight operations from Cebu to Borongan City Airport.

The maiden flight to Borongan City Airport on December 19 will signal the start of PAL’s operation of the Cebu-Borongan-Cebu flights every Monday and Friday.

“We are very happy with this partnership. With these direct flights, it will be more convenient for the people of Borongan to travel to and from our beloved city. Many travelers have long lamented how inconvenient it is to travel to our city. Hopefully, these flights will create more business and tourism opportunities for Borongan,” Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda said.

Travelers to the capital of Eastern Samar province have to land at Tacloban Airport and take a five- to a six-hour land trip to reach Borongan City.

The other option is to travel by land from Manila, which takes about two days.

“The entire Philippine Airlines family shares the excitement of the people of Eastern Samar over the new PAL service between Cebu and Borongan City. When we launch this service in a few weeks time, we’ll work hard to promote travel between Borongan and the rest of the Philippines. We look forward to welcoming more business and leisure travelers from around the Philippines and the world on board to our flights in Borongan City so that they may discover spectacular surfing haven and the home of vast natural treasures,” said Capt. Stanley Ng, PAL president and chief operating officer.

The flights to Borongan City will also benefit Eastern Samar and nearby Northern Samar towns, such as Lapinig, Gamay, and Mapanas, according to the city government.

“One of the main reasons why many people from Borongan who have been living elsewhere do not come and visit our city is because of the travel required to go here. With these new flights, we want to make it convenient for them to come home. Consider this the local government’s Christmas gift to our people,” said Rupert Ambil, city information officer and head of city flight operations.

PAL is the first commercial airline to launch a regular flight to Borongan City after the local airport’s completion in March 2013.

Initial talks for the opening of the flight route started in July 2022, with the initiative of Agda who assigned Ambil to discuss potential partnerships with the country’s airlines.

The city also got approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to make sure that the airport is ready for commercial flights.

“CAAP responded immediately to our request and gave us the layout of the Borongan City Airport. They were very helpful in giving us the steps we needed to take to make our airport ready for commercial flights. We are very thankful to them,” Ambil added.

He said CAAP also provided Borongan City with X-ray machines from other airport facilities.

The Borongan City government will handle the logistics and manage the refurbishment of the airport after getting recommendations from flight specialists.

“We consider these initial costs as an investment. These flights, we hope, will directly translate into more tourists visiting us, and businesses starting in the city. We want Borongan City to be the regional sports tourism hub of Eastern Visayas, so this is just a small step towards achieving that goal,” Agda said.

Borongan City has been positioning itself as the next major tourism hub of Eastern Visayas in recent years.

The local government is currently hosting the third run of the Surf in the City, with about 300 surfers from across the Philippines competing in Borongan from November 26 to December 3. (PNA)