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February, 2018

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“AirSWIFT”:, started in 2002, is said to be one of the fastest growing airlines in the Philippines. The inflight magazine told us it ‘was the leader in the turboprop market and perfect for connecting remote communities’. This means it flies at least daily from four cities (including Manila) to El Nido on the island of Palawan where tourists disperse onwards to the various tropical islands.

Having left “Miniloc Island”: by boat, we were met at El Nido by golf buggy for the five-minute journey to the small airport terminal which is owned by AirSWIFT.

Our bags were taken care of and firstly we went through a ticket inspection, then baggage scan, before check in. The latter took longer than it should have, as the staff were too busy deciding on what filling they wanted in their lunch time roll to bother with paying customers.

The terminal ‘building’ was modern, looked new and offered free refreshments. As we’d been staying at an hotel in the El Nido Resort chain, we had the use of a small air-conditioned lounge which got us away from the noisy, cavernous, non-AC area.
Our 4pm flight was delayed by 20 minutes and we didn’t start boarding until 4pm. However, as the flight only took 55 minutes instead of the scheduled 1 hour 15 minutes, we still landed on time.

The plane was new (an ATR 42-600), and the only refreshment provided was bottles of water, available on request, which is obviously why they provide snacks in the lounge. Consequently, they manage with only one steward as it’s a small flight with 2 x 2 configuration for the 48 passengers.

As the popularity of the islands around Palawan grows, its clear that so will AirSWIFT and their blurb mentioned the acquisition of more new aircraft.

Helen Jackson

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