SEAIR founders form new airline for 'missionary' routes

Posted at 08/21/12 5:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The founders of South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) are forming a new airline to service "missionary routes."

"We started a new airline called SEAIR International which is owned by me, (Iren) Dornier, Tomas Lopez, Geraldine Olivares. We will reposition the airline to serve missionary developmental routes and one of the things we want to do is to re-launch the Batanes flight because we removed that from SEAIR Inc.," Greek-American Nick Gitsis, one of the founders of SEAIR, said.

Gitsis and Dornier, who are the founders of SEAIR, recently sold their 40% stake in the airline to Singapore's budget carrier Tiger Airways for $2.5 million.

The new airline SEAIR I will be headed by former SEAIR president Avelino Zapanta. "He will be the president of SEAIR I. We believe he could continue to head an airline such as SEAIR I since he had been with SEAIR Inc. before," Gitsis said. 
SEAIR I will take over the leisure routes of SEAIR, which is now a budget carrier. It will fly to destinations in Palawan and Batanes, where bigger commercial planes could not land using a fleet of 3 Dornier 328s and a LET 410UVP-Es. 
"We plan to expand the fleet and position the aircraft to service missionary destinations like inter-Palawan, including  Puerto Princesa-El Nido, Busuanga, Puerto Princesa-Taytay, Puerto Princesa-Cuyo, among others.  We will keep Batanes and also focus on Palawan," Gitsis said.

SEAIR I is waiting for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to issue its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) before it launches the new airline by the fourth quarter of 2012.

"We already secured a CPCN (certificate of public convenience and necessity) from the CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board) and we are just waiting for the CAAP to issue our AOC. We will start operating SEAIR I by October or November this year. We have pilots and staff good and ready to go. Mr. Zapanta will come back," said Gitsis.