Two ASEAN cities get first international flights

Cebgo will operate the new route
Cebgo will operate the new route

A new flight will launch later this year, providing the first international air link for two Southeast Asia cities.

On 28 October 2017, Cebgo will commence services across the Sulu Sea between Zamboanga, the Philippine city on Mindanao’s western peninsula, and Sandakan, the Malaysian city on the east coast of Borneo.

Services will operate four times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays) using an ATR turboprop aircraft. As well as marking the first international flight for both cities, the new service will be the first international flight for Cebgo, the regional subsidiary of Cebu Pacific.

“Sandakan has had centuries of trade and cultural linkage with the southern Philippines, and we are especially proud to put in place infrastructure to further enhance these ties. Now, the previous 14-hour travel by sea is cut down to just a 40-minute airplane ride,” said Alexander Lao, president & CEO of Cebgo.

The new Zamboanga-Sandakan route forms part of broader efforts to drive connectivity within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), which was established in 1994 in an effort to turn the region into an economic and tourism centre.

“The opening of this air route is a clear manifestation that with strong private and public partnership, we can truly make things happen as one BIMP-EAGA family. We are already seeing this route to complement the proposed Tawi-Tawi Special Economic and Freeport Zone Development efforts, given that Sandakan is one of Mindanao’s direct links to a larger EAGA economy,” commented HJ Abul Khayr Alonto, chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority.


At present, Sandakan Airport handles domestic flights from Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and MASwings, while Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express connect Zamboanga with cities across the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific will also provide a pair of new connections to the Philippine resort island of Boracay later this year. On 30 October 2017, the low-cost carrier will start flying direct from Clark International Airport to Kalibo, one of the gateways to Boracay. This service will run three times a week, providing an extra connection to the island from the Manila area.

And on the same date, Cebu Pacific’s regional subsidiary, Cebgo, will start flying from Cagayan de Oro to Caticlan, Boracay’s other gateway airport. This new link from the southern island of Mindanao will also operate three times a week.


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