Forget (aero) planes, trains, automobiles and ferries. Groups looking
to host a meeting or incentive on one of the Philippines’ many island
resorts could opt to travel there in style via seaplane.
Popular destinations such as Boracay, Puerto Galera and Palawan are
difficult to access for those on a tight schedule, as the shortage of
land-based regional airports in these destinations means taking a long
ferry journey. But groups can now fly there via seaplane, with one
company operating the country’s only scheduled seaplane service from the
Airtrav, which operates three flights a day from its headquarters at
Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport says its seaplanes can land
directly next to islands such as Boracay, Puerto Galera or Palawan, with
the longest journey (to Palawan), typically taking around 100 minutes.
Audrey Ngui, Airtrav’s marketing manager, says that extending
seaplane routes would attract more island-hopping visitors, who often
find commercial flight schedules inconvenient. The form of transport
could save time and also offer an exciting way to travel, but Ngui says
there can be misconceptions about seaplanes, where they are viewed as
something of a novelty. This means governments can sometimes be
initially reluctant to approve new locations, fearing that the plane
might damage coral reefs or disturb marine life.
“We point out that as a seaplane floats on the water, it makes no
more disturbance than a boat and we always work with the local
government to minimise disruption", she says.
Airtrav says it also researches the exact maritime locations
carefully. Protected bays, coves and lagoons offer smoother landing
spots than open water.
The company has one Cessna Grand Caravan EX Amphibian, a
single-engine airplane that seats eight passengers, with space for two