By Riza T. Olchondra
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines and Spain agreed to make 28 direct flights available for their respective airlines to serve weekly, as representatives of both countries wrapped up bilateral air services negotiations in Madrid recently.
The two parties allocated daily flight entitlements from Manila to Madrid and Barcelona, and vice versa.
Clark’s Diosdado Macapagal International Airport got 14 weekly flights to and from Madrid and Barcelona.
Other points in the Philippines, except Manila and Clark, were allocated daily flights to and from other points in Spain, except Madrid and Barcelona.
Manila was granted rights to service 200 tons of cargo per week while Clark got 300 tons per week. Both points of origin were allowed daily cargo flights to and from Spain. “The original agreement was signed in 1951 without frequencies,” Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla, who is a member of the Philippine air panel, said.
Currently, there are indirect flights from Madrid and Barcelona to the Philippines and back. The routes are served by Asian airlines such as Singapore Airlines and a number of Middle Eastern carriers such as Qatar Airways.
Philippine aviation officials have not disclosed whether any airline, including flag carrier Philippine Airlines and Spain’s Iberia, expressed interest in serving the direct flight entitlements agreed upon.
This is the eighth air services deal entered into by the Philippines this year.
The Philippines has completed aviation talks with Qatar and United Arab Emirates in January, Kuwait and Bahrain in February, and Brunei and Australia in March, and Singapore earlier this month.
The International Air Transport Association has projected that world travel may decline by 3 percent in 2009.
The Philippines’ transport department views air deals as part of preparations for the eventual recovery of the global economy and the resurgence in air travel.
Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said having more air service agreements would be good for the country.