A new seaplane service, launched by Air Juan in Cebu City, will open up a whole host of difficult-to-reach destinations to tourism.
Air Juan’s president John Gutierrez said destinations will include Malapascua Island, Sumilon Island, Kalanggaman Island, Gigantes, Lakawon, Camotes, Panglao and Anda in Bohol. Further routes are expected to be added in the future.
However, he added that anybody hoping for a low-budget trip may be disappointed. “We are not a budget airline,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we are the most expensive out there but we are the most convenient. You can’t put a price on a person’s time.
“Biliran is a five-hour boat ride but Air Juan reduces the travel time to 45 minutes.”
Fares are expected to range from 2,000-4,000 pesos for one-way flights.
“With a seaplane, it’s a little more expensive again because of the overheads that we have. There are more expensive equipment and, also, our pilots are mostly expats,” he said.
The seaplanes will supplement conventional services launched last summer. Beginning in June, Air Juan opened scheduled flights from Mactan International Airport to Bantayan, Biliran, Maasin, Sipalay, Siquijor and Tagbilaran.
It is hoped the new services will be fully operational by March, but bookings are already available. The terminal is located at Filinvest’s South Road Properties.
The company, which claimed to be the biggest seaplane operator in Southeast Asia, is licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and Civil Aeronautics Board.
City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has congratulated the airline and welcomed the new addition to the city’s tourism industry.
“To ride a seaplane is more expensive than the commercial planes but if you think of it, from here to Panglao, it will only take 20 minutes,” he added.
The company has pledged that the scheduled flights will always run, even if only one passenger is booked on the nine-seater planes.