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Direct flights start between Naha and Philippines

Date Posted: 2003-06-28

For the first time in ten years, Okinawa and the Philippines are connected with a direct air link as Philippine Airlines inaugurated its new route between Manila and Naha.

More than 100 passengers and invited guests arrived at the Naha Aiport on the first flight June 20. The airline will offer twice weekly flights. Departures from Naha are on Fridays and Saturdays, and from Manila on Mondays and Tuesdays. The scheduled flight time using the Airbus 340-300 airliner is two hours and 15 minutes. The aircraft has a capacity of 260 passengers.

The inaugural ceremony was held last Friday at the Naha International Airport, with Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine, Ambassador of the Philippines Domingo L. Siazon, Jr. and several airline executives participating.

Although many people have had reservations about the viability of the route, airline officials at the opening ceremony were optimistic. "We except the tourism to increase sharply both ways between Okinawa and the Philippines," a Philippine Airlines spokesman said. However, he confessed that the company is keen to attract U.S. military business as well.

"There's a lot of talk of increasing U.S. deployments from Okinawa to the Philippines, and of course we are looking forward to being able to offer our services to the U.S. military and other personnel who would be involved in those activities," the spokesman said.

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