General Santos City – Philippines AirAsia, Inc., a low-cost airline based at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila has formally launched its new flights connecting Manila to General Santos on October 28, 2020 at the General Santos International Airport.
The launching was initiated by a water cannon salute upon the arrival of the aircraft, and the very important persons (VIPs), together with the media representatives proceeded to the program venue.
AirAsia Philippines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Ricardo “Ricky” Isla gave his welcome remarks. It was followed by the speeches of Gensan Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera and Congresswoman Shirlyn L. Bañas-Nograles.
The keynote speaker was nine-time world champion Senator Manny D. Pacquiao who is remembered to be airlifted by AirAsia to Australia for his World Boxing Organization (WBO) title defense in 2017.
AirAsia flew Pacquiao and his team from their training camp in General Santos City to Brisbane on an Airbus A330 with special livery. The aircraft featured an image of the Filipino boxer next to the Pacman and Pound-for-Pound logos.
South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr. was cordially invited to join the occasion as AirAsia’s esteemed guest to mark the opening of the said route, but he was unable to attend due to some conflicts with his schedule.
Despite this, the airline company still presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Governor Tamayo for sharing his knowledge on the topic “Gateway for Progress” at the #WeRiseAsOne AirAsia Economic Forum last October 6, 2020 via zoom. The certificate was signed by CEO Mr. Ricky Isla and was received by the Provincial Government of South Cotabato- Tourism Office staff.
“Congratulations, AirAsia, on your inaugural flight in General Santos City. I’m here to personally celebrate with you and our people. Your decision to open your flight here in General Santos City is a bold and courageous step amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Yours will be truly remembered by the people of the entire region—South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato Province, and General Santos City,” Pacquiao stated.
“With AirAsia’s help, we are confident that the people of SOCCSKSARGEN will slowly but surely recover from this pandemic. To us, this is not just an inauguration of AirAsia’s first flight in Region XII. This is a historic event that should remind us that despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, our desire to uplift one another and our willingness to take risk will see us through,” he added.
“This is an inspiration for all of us to keep our heads up high and never lose hope. It is a reminder that life is best enjoyed with our fellowmen. It’s a clear evidence of our resilience and perseverance as a nation and as a people. With this, I am truly grateful to AirAsia for giving us this gift of hope. I am sure that the people of SOCCSKSARGEN share the same amount of gratitude. It is my prayer that we will get through this pandemic together,” he mentioned.
The born-again Christian Senator finally uttered: “Sa tulong ng ating Panginoon, ang imposible ay magiging posible. Kaya’t wag po tayong mawawalan ng tiwala at pananalig sa ating Panginoon. This is the time to strengthen our faith and belief in God, especially our personal relationship with God. Ang Panginoon lamang ang gagabay at mapoprotekta sa atin, lalo na sa virus na hindi natin nakikita. We really need God’s protection.”
The airline is the Philippine affiliate of AirAsia, a low-cost airline based in Malaysia. It started as a joint venture among three Filipino investors and AirAsia Investments Ltd., a subsidiary of AirAsia Berhad.
The aircrafts with flight numbers Z2 661 and Z2 662 are scheduled to fly twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday, from Manila to General Santos and vice versa.