The Philippine government's move to decongest Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l airport has encountered its first resistance after key voices in the country's regional tourism industry warned such a move would negatively impact their economies through added costs and inconveniences to tourists.

Earlier this quarter, government committed to transferring all General Aviation flights from Manila Ninoy Aquino to Manila Sangley Airport in Cavite while local carriers also pledged to transfer select domestic routes to Clark.

However, according to the Sun Star newspaper, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Eastern Visayas told a Filipino Senate hearing last week that plans for Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia Philippines to switch their respective Manila-Tacloban routes to Clark in the coming weeks would result in higher airfares, increased land transportation and air freight costs, and longer travel times. In all, this would then lead to an overall decline in the number of tourists visiting the region thus impacting its long term growth potential.

The government had intended to use Tacloban, the Philippines' main gateway to the tourist hotspots of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar provinces, as a trial run before pushing ahead with the rest of its proposal.

“If the DOTr [Philippine Department of Transport] really wishes to make a significant immediate impact in minimizing the congestion at Manila International Airport, then it should consider other routes with really high flight volumes in the Visayas such as Iloilo, Bacolod and Cebu with more than fifty plus flights per day combined,” the business chamber argued. “Another option is to study the moving of more international flights to Clark instead of domestic flights."

The PCCI regional chapter urged the DOTr to carry-out consultations with affected stakeholders in the region before pursuing the re-routing proposal any further.