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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Direct flights to and from India pushed to boost tourism

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Philippine aviation officials are discussing possible direct flights to and from India with two Indian airlines to serve the growing market of Indian tourists to the Philippines and Filipinos who want to travel to India.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said discussions are underway between the country’s aviation authority and the Indian airlines

“So, we’re not close to the idea of negotiating with other airlines from other countries, especially India, as we’re looking at India as having vast potential in terms of attracting their tourists from the Philippines,” she said at the sidelines of the first general membership meeting of the Philippines Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) held at the Makati Diamond Residences Wednesday.

“We have been very grateful to our partners in the aviation sector. They have been very responsive to these requests (for more direct flights),” she said.

Frasco designated new Philtoa president Arjun Shroff to represent the Philippines to the Outbound Travel Mart Exhibit in India, in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT), in order to tap the Indian market.

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Frasco said she cannot disclose, yet, the identities of the two Indian airlines since discussions with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) are still underway.

Shroff said there has been great interest coming from Indian tourists to visit the Philippines.

“As I’m from India, I am also looking forward to direct flights from India and back because this is going to give a great surge of tourists, though we already have a very good positioning in India,” he said

The Indian travel market is being served by Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia and Thai Airways, all offering non-direct flights to India via Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.

Philippines Airlines (PAL) has not yet launched flights to India “and if they take a chance to do three flights a week travels a week, at least it will give impetus for group travel to stand.”

He said Philtoa has proposed to Frasco to convince authorities to give slots to local Indian airlines to launch direct flights to and from India.

He added local Indian airlines have a good flight plan of 5 1/2 hours non-stop to India compared to 10 to 12 hours of other other airlines.

He added there is a growing number of Indian tourists coming to the Philippines. In 2023, travelers from India have reached 100,000 and the expectation is that this will further increase in 2024 especially if direct flights will be launched within the year.

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