Set to fill the
void to be left behind by Zest Airlines is newcomer Skyjet, which plans to
operate a leased 94-seater British Aerospace BAe146-200 to the capital town
beginning July 1.
Its first flight
to Catanduanes is scheduled just two days after Zest Air’s MA60 jetprop makes
its takeoff from Virac airport on June 29. Leased from Lionair Inc. with an
option to buy, fhe four-engine Skyjet’s flight time to Manila will be just 40
minutes, shaving 25 minutes off ZestAir’s usual flight duration.
It will also fly
to Virac on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, which would ensure that there
will be daily airplane flights to the island.
Seats on board
the jet, however, would be slightly costly as the airline plans to offer full
hospitality and inflight service: unlimited snack and drinks, and newspapers.
“Snack items like mamon, chips, coffee, water and soda will be offered after
take-off and passengers can still ask for a second round and refill of drinks
anytime they want,” the airline said.
Skyjet flies to Batanes three times a week, with a one-way ticket costing
P6,200. The airline’s chief executive officer, Dr. Joel Mendoza, is also
director of the Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA). The airline has two
BAE146-200s and a Dornier 328 charter plane, with a lighter, 72-seater BAe 146-100
aircraft set to be acquired.
A source told the
Tribune that negotiations are on-going between the airline and Zest Air ticket
outlet manager Capt. Ivanhoe Arcilla, who is being wooed to represent the
airline in Virac as general sales agent. Arcilla reportedly prefers a no-frills
flight, as most Virac air commuters travel to Manila out of necessity, to make
the route’s fares more competitive with that of Cebu Pacific Air.
The airline has
also promised assistance to the provincial government in promoting tourism
destinations in Catanduanes.
Skyjet’s bid to
secure a temporary permit to operate to Virac from the Civil Aeronautics Board
(CAB) has received support from the Provincial Micro, Small and Medium
Enterprise Development Council (PMSMEDC) and the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac,
which passed similar resolutions asking CAB to allow Skyjet flights to Virac.