RP, Qatar sign air-services pact

Written by Lenie Lectura
Business Mirror
Thursday, 15 January 2009

THE Philippines and Qatar amended their air-services agreement (ASA) on Wednesday night, adding three more flight entitlements servicing the Doha-Manila route. 

On the first day of the two-day air talks held at the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) office, air panels agreed to augment the weekly flights to a total of eight from the current five for the Doha-Manila route. 

Flights servicing the Doha-Cebu route also increased to 14 from three weekly. Likewise, the Doha-Clark route got an increase in flight frequencies from three flights per week to 14.
The RP-Qatar bilateral ASA is the first air pact sealed for 2009. 

“The increase in flight entitlements is for both countries per week. We are glad of the results; a proof that our relationship with Qatar is growing. There is a need to increase the [flight] frequencies to serve our Filipino workers,” said CAB Deputy Director Porvenir Porciuncula in an interview. 

The number of estimated Filipino workers in Qatar had reached 150,000 as of last year. 

Later this month, the Philippine air panel will hold similar negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said Porciuncula. 

“The air talks with the UAE will be on January 28 and 29. After that we are looking at meetings with Kuwait and Brunei,” said the CAB official. 

“The scheduled meetings for this year are mostly focused on the countries that were not part of last year’s discussions,” added Porciuncula. 

In 2007, the country’s air panel clinched agreements with Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau, Canada, Finland, Cambodia, Iran and the Netherlands. 

Philippine carriers are reportedly not keen on increasing flight entitlements in the Middle East, said Porciuncula. 

“While Qatar wants more access, our carriers do not want to even launch flights anywhere in the Middle East because of very stiff market competition. The Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific do not have immediate plans to mount flights there,” he said. 

The Philippine air panel is composed of officials from the Departments of Transportation and Communications, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, and Trade and Industry, and CAB. Airline representatives include the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

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