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Seaplane operator AirTrav rides on thriving PH tourism

By Miguel R. Camus | Philippine Daily Inquirer

AirTrav Corp. launched scheduled flights from Manila to Clark International Airport and Puerto Galera, with plans to expand to Visayas within the year.

The company, which was established five years ago as an operator of private chopper services, said the aforementioned flights would be serviced by its Cessna Grand Caravan ex amphibian, which can carry eight passengers and is capable of land and water landings.

“The market is very good now that tourism is booming in the Philippines,” AirTrav president Jacob Cusi said during the launch.

He said the company also expected healthy volume coming from tourists from South Korea and China.

AirTrav flies to Clark and Puerto Galera from its terminal in the CCP Bay Terminal in Manila. It also provides chartered flights.

The airline said a one-way trip from Manila to Clark cost P4,500 and would take around 30 minutes. For Puerto Galera, a one-way trip costs P6,000 with a flying time of around 40 minutes.

Cusi said they were planning to acquire another Cessna Grand Caravan as their operations ramp up. Expansion is in the cards, but he declined to cite the specific locations in Visayas that AirTrav is eyeing.

By 2019, AirTrav could also bring flights to Mindanao, Cusi added.

The company is eyeing time-sensitive travelers, who are typically willing to pay more. It is poised to compete with Air Juan, which also has seaplane operations.

AirTrav said its seaplane pilots were trained by Flight Safety Australia.

AirTrav is the designated helicopter tour provider for the annual Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival held in Clark, Pampanga.

It also provides VIP helicopter transfers, city tours, marriage proposals and flower droppings. Medical evacuation, search and rescue, and disaster response are also offered in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross.

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