Zest Airways, commonly known ZestAir or ZA, is one of the hottest airline companies around. Surfacing from the series of losses as Asian Spirit, the whole new ZestAir has been servicing both conventional and unconventional routes. ZestAir has opened up many of our “dormant” international airports to more international flights, including Kalibo International Airport which was transformed from a sleepy domestic airport into a vibrant international one. I have chosen to fly ZestAir many times due to their cheap fares, serviced by comfortable A319s. Now, these A319s have been replaced by their slightly bigger cousins, the A320’s in servicing flights to Manila, proving that the market not just in Metropolitan Bacólod but in the whole province is ripe and ready for more flight frequencies. In fact, this twice daily frequency will increase to three by next year but that is not juicier news.
Starting January 7, 2012*, ZestAir will say Annyeong haseyo! with a direct flight from Bacólod-Silay International Airport to Seoul-Incheon International Airport, the gateway to the cool South Korean capital of Seoul. I discovered what would be an announcement when I was searching for cheaper rates in their Manila to Kalibo flights. Curiosity got me to try Bacólod and when I clicked “destination”, I was surprised to see Seoul-Incheon apart from Manila. This got me intrigued and days after, folks at Skyscrapercity.com posted a comfirmation via a flight schedule announcement from ZestAir. Its confirmed that there would be Bacólod to Incheon flight. Bacólod-Silay International Airport will be the second Western Visayas airport to service international flights after Kalibo and the third in the Visayas. There is a twist though since this would just be until February 22, 2012 which means this is an commercial scheduled charter flight, sort of what we can say a taste test of the market.
Bacólod City is the second home to the Korean Community in the Philippines which has already set a good firmhold in the city by the thousands. Some come to the city to study and a number have already made the City of Smiles their permanent home. The city is mushrooming with Korean Restaurants and Korean language schools in every corner of the street which means the community is flourishing, with the locals catching on to the taste. Korea-enthusiasts are seen among the local community, including yours truly, even before I moved to Metropolitan Manila. Some of them are set to avail of this direct flight to the heartland of Korea. The burgeoning demand as of the moment is set to regularize flights to Seoul-Incheon and hopefully would open the market for additional flights to Busan, Cheong-ju and Jeju Island.
In view of the surging flights and the airport’s hosting of international flights, República Negrénse is launching the online public service page called BSIA Watch as an avenue for people to key in important developments in the airport with some of the perennial problems that the flying public has been grunting time and time again. Bacólod-Silay International Airport is key to Negros Occidental and even Negros Island’s development being the first impression that tourists will see as they land in the Sugarlandia. As responsible citizens, we must be in a constant lookout to the happenings around the airport and how the airport management handles the situation. Problems have been slowly addressed but with the incoming international flights, the management should not be in a mediocre mode as this would be a litmus test to the capabilities of the airport to handle international flights. Even as we hope for more international flights, especially that of Governor Alfredo Marañon’s proposal to Taiwan officials for a direct flight, we must stay on guard that airport problems will not go on unnoticed and unsolved. For the meantime, República Negrénse is giving a big Kudos! and Thank You! to the management of ZestAir for believing in the people of Bacólod City and Negros Occidental, wishing well for your first international flight from Bacólod.
Schedules of Zest Air are subject to change so check the Flight Schedule regularly for new announcements. As of press time, the BCD-ICN-BCD flights are set to start on Jan. 7, 2012 on a Wednesday and Saturday schedule.