Satellite firm goes to Subic

Transfers Control Centre

January 31, 2010

by Jeremiah F. de Guzman

Agila-2 satellite (ABS)Asia Broadcasting Systems, a major satellite operator in Asia, is transferring the control of $800 million worth of equipment to its Subic facility this year.

ABS chief executive Tom Choi said in a statement that the company would beef up its workforce by over 50 percent in two years and train staff for the transfer of the control operations to the Subic center from the southern part of Hong Kong.

“In short, an $800 million worth of satellite equipment will be controlled in our operating center in Subic,” Choi said.

The Subic center, he said, would control five of the company’s satellites—ABS 1, ABS 1-A, ABS 2, ABS 5 and ABS 6.

The satellites serve the firm’s markets in Asia-Pacific, Russia, Africa and the Atlantic. ABS recently acquired Mabuhay Satellite Corp. of the Philippines, which operated the Agila-2 satellite, now renamed ABS-5.

Choi said ABS would invest over $5 million for training and additional infrastructure in its ground facility in Subic, adding that the firm would hire a minimum of 20 new employees this year.

“The investment will include new control equipment, new software, big antennas and satellite control equipment that will all be located in our Subic control center,” he said.

Choi added the company would spend an additional $300 million for another satellite to replace Agila 2 in preparation for its retirement in five years.

“Our investments in the Philippines will be long term,” he said.

ABS, whose control operations are in Hong Kong, said its main clients in the Philippines are telecommunication and broadcasting firms, including Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Bayan Telecommunications Inc., GMA Network Inc. and ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.

ABS in November signed an agreement for the purchase of Mabuhay Satellite’s business.

“ABS will maintain all of Mabuhay’s operations in the Philippines and the staff will be integrated with the ABS team,” Choi said.

He said revenues from the Philippines would account for 15 percent to 20 percent of the total after the merger.

The Curse of the Nomad

The widowmaker tag
January 29, 2010

By Jorge CariƱo and Ricky Carandang

MANILA, Philippines - The Australian-made Nomad bush plane that crashed Thursday morning in Cotabato City, killing all 8 passengers on board, has had a problematic history.

Nomads were first built in Australia in the 1970s for short trips. Production was discontinued in 1995 after reports that the plane was unsafe because of numerous design flaws, including a tendency to develop stress cracks when flying.

The problems were detailed in a 2004 report by the Australian Broadcasting Company. (Transcript of report here)

According to the ABC report, first broadcast on the program 7.30 Report on July 27, 2004, the plane was nicknamed the “Widowmaker” after 19 of them crashed over a 20-year period, causing 56 deaths.

The ABC report told the story of an Australian aircraft fitter named Michael Paul who discovered the design flaws as far back as 1989.

But when he reported the problems to his superiors, he was threatened with disciplinary action.

Paul kept quiet until 1991 when a Nomad carrying a friend crashed in Australia. Paul committed suicide in 2004.

The ABC story became known in Australia as the Nomad Scandal.

As recently as November 2009, a Nomad owned by the Indonesian Navy crashed in East Kalimantan province.

The Philippine Air Force had 4 Nomads, including the one that crashed today. They were acquired in 1975.

Prior to Thursday’s accident, the last accident involving a Nomad in the Philippines was when a plane flying to Tawi-Tawi experienced problems.

In July 2000, another Nomad plane crashed off the Palawan coast. Among the victims was the then-Commander of the Armed Forces' Western Command, Gen. Santiago Madrid.

Aside from an investigation into the latest incident, the PAF is also prioritizing the welfare of the family of the victims. The remains of the victims are now being prepared to be brought to Manila as of posting.

PAF Nomad crashed

Kills Nine

January 29, 2010

Cotabato – A Philippine Air Force Nomad N22B plane with tail number 18, crashed Thursday morning killing eight of its passengers, including a senior air force commander and seven other people aboard while one person died on the ground and two others were injured.

Police said among those killed were Maj. Gen. Butch Lacson, commanding general of the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) 3rd Wing Division based in Zamboanga City. The 7 other PAF personnel who died were:

+ Lacson's staff officer Maj. Prisco Tacoboy;
+ Aide-de-camp 2nd Lt. Alexander Ian Lipae;
+ Sgt. Maria Rose Lamera;
+ Sgt. Ian Mejia;
+ Pilot Captain Gaylord Ordonio;
+ Co-pilot 1st Lt. Angelica Valdez; and
+ Crew chief Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Gozon.

A civilian, Inday Mondrano, died after a wall reportedly fell on her when the military aircraft crashed around 11:30 a.m. at Virgo Subdivision, Rosary Heights 9, in Cotabato City.

Meanwhile, Gela Gumiton, a resident in the area, was also brought to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center for head and body injuries she sustained during the incident.

Cotabato Mayor Muslimin Sema said that one fireman also was injured while responding to the emergency.

The 35 year old twin-prop Nomad aircraft left Davao City around 9:00am for Zamboanga City when it landed Cotabato airport to dropped off Tactical Operations Group chief Col. Cris Tumanda before taking-off again for Edwin Andrew airbase at 11:35 am.

The plane was gaining altitude when cotabato tower received a message from the pilot at 11:37 am saying that they would return to the station as they were experiencing engine failure and decided to turn back to the airport. It was on approach to the runway when it lose altitude and crashed, Civil Aviation Authority deputy director Ed Kapunan said a radio interview.

The lucky passenger, Cris Tumanda, group commander of the Air Force’s Tactical Operations Group 12 (TOG-12) based in Cotabato City, stressed that the aircraft showed no signs of engine trouble during the early stages of their flight from Davao reporting that it was all smooth before he disembarked from the plane.

Brig. Gen. Carlix Donila, wing commander of the 530th Air Base Wing said the pilot of the Nomad plane was able to contact the tower minutes before the plane crashed to the ground and burst into flames, setting fire to two houses that it had hit and killing one person on the ground.

"There are four remaining Nomad planes but only three are in service, and they will be grounded pending results of an investigation that will be headed by Brig. Gen. Jesus Fajardo, the PAF’s chief of staff" says air force spokesman Lt. Col. Gerardo Zamudio.

The Nomad plane was manufactured by Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) in Melbourne, Australia. It was ordered by the PAF in 1975 and first delivered in 1976. They were the most reliable and trusted utility plane in the air force inventory mainly based in Mindanao transporting commanders to remote areas including Jolo, Sulu and Basilan.

RP aviation demotion: who is to blame?

No photo

By Jarius Bondoc

In Nov. 2007 the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded RP to Category-II in air safety and security. This barred RP airlines from setting up new or spreading old services to the US, among other sanctions. The rating came after four months of FAA review of its RP equivalent, the Air Transport Office. Applying international safety standards, FAA found the RP government wanting in basic infrastructures, logistics, and systems. Most telling, there was no skill upgrading for ATO personnel who check airline flight crew.

In response RP rushed creation in Mar. 2008 of a fiscally autonomous Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. Like a corporation it has a seven-man board, six of them Cabinet secretaries: of transportation and communications (as chairman), justice, foreign affairs, finance, interior, and labor. The seventh is vice chairman and director general, retired Air Force general Ruben Ciron, appointed in July 2008. CAAP’s job is to upgrade civil aviation facilities and personnel.

Since then, however, the Category-II grade has not improved to I. Worse, the International Civil Aviation Organization has issued its own bad review. Clustering RP with such backward or failing states like Angola, Bangladesh, Congo, Djibouti, Kazakhstan, Rwanda and Zambia, the United Nations agency said CAAP has “significant safety concerns.”

What caused this? There are two versions.

Immediately upon Ciron’s entry, court and media fighting erupted between the old ATO and new CAAP leadership. The old timers accused the newcomers of amateurism. Allegedly Ciron’s team didn’t even know that the ICAO grade of 28.17 percent meant “compliance,” and took it to mean “findings”. Consequently, they missed the global average of 40.31 percent compliance; thus the unsavory ranking. Blamed on Ciron too was a radar breakdown in Sept. 2009, the first in RP aviation history, closing the country’s airspace for hours. Of 191 navigational facilities nationwide, only 16 are reliable and eight are due for recalibration by end-Feb. 2010. The rest allegedly are in disrepair, although 90 percent of CAAP revenues come from navigational charges on airlines.

Money is also at issue. Supposedly Ciron has hired 104 consultants as of Aug. 2009, mostly military retirees like him, costing P2 million a month and duplicating regular positions. The runway extension at the Boracay Airport allegedly was contracted for P32 million without public bidding. Even Ciron’s giveaway desk calendars last Christmas, costing half-a-million pesos, have been raked up.

CAAP managers counter that the law that created the agency forced them to absorb even the incompetents from the defunct ATO. Of the 104 consultants, 71 were hires of their accuser Daniel Dimagiba, the last ATO chief. These were the same ATO check pilots, cabin crew examiners, airworthiness inspectors, librarians, and medical workers whom the FAA had found inefficient. Ciron did hire 30 or so new consultants, they admit. But these are aviation professionals whose legal, technical and managerial expertise enabled CAAP to take over without hitches.

CAAP’s worst irony is with check pilots for Boeing 747s and Airbus 340s, managers say. It allegedly inherited from ATO men whose flight know-how is only with single engine planes, derided as tutubi (damselflies). A favorite joke among wide-body jet pilots is that their CAAP checker was late for the test because he got lost in the cockpit. The remedy is to lure back Filipino pilots working overseas for monthly pays equivalent to P300,000-P500,000. But the CAAP has yet to raise such money. So in the meantime it relies on Air Force retirees.

ICAO lists RP aviation unsafe

Affirms FAA finding on Cat II rating

January 28, 2010

By Rainier Allan Ronda

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is in a list of countries with unsafe civil aviation systems drawn up by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ICAO has listed the Philippines among countries whose civil aviation was found with “significant safety concern” (SSC), according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Employees Union (CAAP-EU).

Cesar Lucero, CAAP-EU vice president, said that this was not surprising in view of the CAAP’s failure to address deficiencies of the country’s airport network.

“As we have said time and again, the Philippines will continue to fail to regain Category I status with the US FAA (United States Federal Aviation Authority) and get a satisfactory rating with the ICAO until the leadership of the CAAP, especially the director-general, Ruben Ciron, is replaced,” he said.

In an electronic bulletin last Dec. 18, the ICAO listed the countries with SSC findings as Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Congo, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Philippines, Rwanda, and Zambia.

“The safety oversight audit of the Philippines under the comprehensive systems approach revealed a Significant Safety Concern which remains unresolved by the State,” the ICAO said.

The SSC finding for the Philippines is a double whammy for the country’s local civil aviation industry after the US FAA downgrade of the country from a Category I to a Category II rating due to deficiencies in its civil aviation systems in December 2007.

The US FAA downgrade had caused the Arroyo government to rush passage of Republic Act 9497 which created the CAAP.

Whose to blame?
Lucero said Ciron, as CAAP director-general, had mainly attended to the hiring of his fellow retired military officers to vital and highly technical positions at the CAAP even without having civil aviation experience and expertise.

“We blame Mr. Ciron and his hiring binge of his fellow retired military generals and colonels and his fellow comrades in the Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines Movement at the expense of organic ATO personnel who have civil aviation experience and expertise,” he said.

It will be recalled that the CAAP-EU has questioned Ciron’s appointment of retired military officers with no civil aviation management expertise in the CAAP since its creation in late 2008.

The group stressed under RA 9497, the CAAP was supposed to absorb the regular employees of the Air Transportation Office to retain the experienced air traffic controllers and other crucial technical employees of the agency.

Another reason for the creation of the CAAP was to enable it to retain its more than P2 billion income raised from the collection of landing and navigation fees to raise salaries of employees such as air traffic controllers, he added.

Sought for comment, Ciron downplayed the ICAO issuance of the SSC on the Philippines.

“We are addressing that already,” he said.

Ciron said that the reason for the SSC rating by the ICAO was the finding of ICAO inspectors that CAAP lacked technical personnel.

Air safety not a one-man job

The chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said he was not entirely to blame for the poor rating given to the country’s aviation sector by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Ruben Ciron, CAAP director general, was reacting to the CAAP-Employees Union’s pronouncement that he should take the blame for ICAO’s issuance of a significant safety concern or SSC rating on the country’s civil aviation network.

Ciron pointed out that ensuring aviation safety is not a one-man job and that it requires full cooperation of all CAAP personnel.

Ciron also lashed out at Cesar Lucero, vice president of the CAAP-EU, for pushing for his ouster.

“But with CAAP employees like Cesar Lucero - who, from day one, wanted me out of the job - the task of ensuring aviation safety in 80 CAAP-controlled airports all over the country has become doubly difficult,” he stressed.

He said he was not washing his hands of responsibility, but stressed that most of the problems plaguing CAAP - formerly the Air Transportation Office - were due to years of corruption and mismanagement.

“Ironically, these problems were accumulated during the time of previous ATO administrations which Lucero was part of,” Ciron said.

“I merely inherited the burden of repairing the damage when I was appointed director general after the CAAP law was passed in 2008. However, we encountered a lot of birth pains along the way, not to mention uncooperative staff like Lucero,” he said.

He also emphasized that ICAO does not give “pass” or “fail” marks but only “ratios” of compliance with certain protocols.

He said most of the “significant safety concerns” are being decisively addressed and properly communicated with concerned agencies. He said no less than Mohamed Elamiri, chief of the ICAO’s Safety and Security Audits Branch, acknowledged the corrective actions taken by the CAAP.

Potential potholes hinder Clark's expansion plan

Suffers connection and likability problems

January 27, 2010

Manilla's Clark International airport has embarked on a 550 million pesos ($12 million) expansion plan to attract more carriers and become the second international gateway into the Philippines.

To be completed in May, the expansion will add a second storey, arrival and departure lounges, and three aerobridges to the terminal building. "We want to attract more airlines, particularly full-service carriers, but they want amenities like lounges," says Clark's president and chief executive Victor Jose Luciano.

Most of the seven passenger airlines serving Clark are low-cost carriers. The expansion will boost Clark's capacity to five million from two million.

A second terminal for Clark is also planned. The airport is evaluating proposals from potential joint venture partners and expects to make an announcement soon. It will take two years to construct a second terminal, says Luciano.

Clark is hoping to become the country's second international gateway. Manila's Ninoy Aquino International airport handled 22 million passengers in 2008, and the industry believes it will soon reach its capacity of 32 million.

However, there are potential potholes on Clark's journey to become the alternative airport.

The airport is a 2 hour drive along congested streets from Manila's business district. While the government has plans to build a high-speed railway to link the two airports, this will take 10 years.

"The railway needs to be there to make Clark into a premier airport. There should be a serious effort from the government to ensure that another international airport is constructed within three to five years," says Philippine Airlines' president Jaime Bautista.

Others have pointed out that launching a wide-ranging expansion might not be the way to go, and they have questioned how quickly Clark will be able to expand its capabilities.

Cebu Pacific chief executive Lance Gokongwei says: "I will be cautious against expanding Clark to something that will not generate adequate returns."

Ninoy Aquino International airport's assistant general manager Tirso Serrano says: "For it to be a viable gateway, you need two major successes: better connectivity to Clark, and industry acceptance."

Subic International airport to close

As SBMA mulls converting airport
to logistics center

January 26, 2010

Quick Facts:
  • 250 million pesos annual expense for airport operations;
  • 200 million pesos annual income in 2008, 150 of which comes from Fedex;
  • earns 30 million pesos only in 2009, 25 million of which comes from Fedex until February;

SUBIC -- The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is thinking of giving up its international airport as it has reduced itself into a white elephant since the departure of US transportation giant Federal Express.

SBMA administrator Armand C. Arreza told reporters here that SBMA is eyeing the conversion of the Subic international airport into a logistics center because of the massive development of the much bigger Clark airport.

Arreza said Subic’s seaport facilities would complement the airport services of Clark which is just an hour away with the Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway. "We cannot have two airports in areas which are just an hour apart," Arreza said.

Arreza said SBMA shoulders up to P250 million annually to have the airport running, P150 million in debt service and another P100 million for maintenance cost.

To break even, he said, the airport should be able to mount 12 to 15 flights a day.

"Even when Fedex was here, we were breaking even, and now with Fedex gone, the airport is losing money," he said.

Another advantage of Clark airport is that its landing and parking fees are free.

"We cannot compete with Clark. It is acceptable that there is another airport, so we are looking at it on the economic point of view. We are evaluating the airport," Arreza added.

Fedex pulled out its AsiaOne hub in Subic in February last year to transfer to China.

Subic airport now caters to very few charter flights and training schools.

The airport served as a secondary airport and a main diversion airport of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. This airport used to be the Naval Air Station Cubi Point of the United States Navy.

What lies ahead for PAL?

Shining Through!

January 25, 2010

2010 has been dubbed by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation as the year of the Asian Airline bailout headed by Japan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Air India in guise of a financial term called "restructuring program".

Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines are also seeking government assistance A.K.A "bailout" of its huge financial losses to help them support fleet expansion and operations.

All these six airlines are set to receive well over USD10 billion in bailouts in the first three months of 2010, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation's estimates.
Justify Full
Lucio Tan owned Philippine Airlines on the other hand is happy where it is, except for some indifferent labor unions who does not know the word "recession","globalization" or "job outsourcing strategy" which could potentially make or break the airline for good.

PAL’s union members have been hoping for a similar bailout strategy from the Philippine government to infuse funds with same losing structure to keep PAL flying. Unfortunately, the government, with its huge fiscal deficit, cannot gamble its limited financial resources to an inefficient airline, like what the Japanese government is now doing to support JAL or other government airline such as Thai and Malaysia airlines. It did not do so in 1998 when it filed for bankruptcy, it will not intervene now even if President Arroyo wants to.

PAL has been Lucio Tan's biggest headache despite the wealth he generates for his business empire. He has been quoted by Boo Changco saying that "airline is bad news" for him. And he is not into spending mode unless management fixes its loopholes that drains his investments away. With Cebu Pacific profits soaring and his profits diving, there must be something wrong with the airline which need fixing fast.

Jaime Bautista, PAL President, found a pill for its nagging headache, a fixed labor cost, which could potentially cut half their expenditure for ground related services.

Philippine Airlines announced their plans to outsource non-essential jobs in the airline in an attempt to improve its profitability and chances of survival against the growing treat of low cost airlines.

Despite the union's vigorous opposition to the plan, they have no choice but face the reality that PAL or Lucio Tan for that matter isn't bluffing on the state of legacy airlines around the globe.

In fact, it was Philippine Airlines union president Edgardo Oredina who broke the bad news to the members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) last year that most legacy airlines around the world, among others labor unions from Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines, Thai International Airways, Air India and Garuda Indonesia are resorting to pay cuts, retrenchment, reduction of working hours, and job outsourcing to survive the business downturn and compete to the challenges of low cost airlines.

“Ironically, ITF’s presentation also dealt with the great impact to the operating revenues made by the so-called ‘low-cost and no-frills’ airlines in the region like Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and the likes, leading to the heavy losses on the legacy airlines and flag carriers like PAL,” Oredina said

It took the International Transport Workers Federation meeting in Sri Lanka to convinced Oredina that they are working indeed on borrowed time. He said that “unions worldwide, especially in the aviation industry, must be more dynamic, proactive, innovative and aggressive adapting to the current changes in the industry, within the framework of maintaining the essence of unionism...,”

Now, the union is starting to cooperate with the airline and its plan for survival. New planes are coming and passengers are growing. Certainly, it should be a win-win situation for the airline and its soon to be dismissed employees as jobs would still be available for them and to others, only that they will be working with a new employer other than acceptance of pay and benefits cuts. According to Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, that should be the best deal for some PALEA members rather than having no work at all.

The recession that hit the airline industry worldwide changed operating dynamics drastically taking its first toll to the most inefficient one, Japan airlines. There is only one rule of the game, and that is stay competitive or your out. Legacy airlines must adapt to the new rules of the game by changing their business models to match the efficiency of budget airlines or suffer the ignominy of history.

Its been incredible already that PAL weathered the crisis without the government's assistance, financial or otherwise. There should be no other way but up. Tan promised new investments if its resolved. There is no doubt that PAL's future is shining through.

PAL flies RP medical team to Haiti

Contributes to relief effort!

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) will fly a team of Filipino medical specialists on the trans-Pacific legs of its journey to Haiti on Monday, where they will aid in treating survivors of the devastating January 12 earthquake.

The 21-member team, organized by the Department of Health and comprising of trauma experts, surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses, will depart Manila at 10:30 p.m. on flight PR 104 to San Francisco, where they will board a connecting flight to Miami and then to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

From there, the team will travel to Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, where they will join an international corps of medical specialists and aid workers already on the ground helping the disaster-shocked population recover from the worst natural calamity to hit the Caribbean nation.

The Philippine contingent will stay for just over two weeks in Haiti. They will return to Santo Domingo on February 11 for Miami and San Francisco, where they will board PAL flight PR 105 at 9:05 p.m. local time. The team will arrive in Manila at 5:25 a.m. on February 13.

The cost of transporting the Philippine medical mission to and from Haiti will be borne by PAL as the flag carrier’s contribution to the international relief effort for the battered country.

Aviation body under fire

CAAP warned on issuing invalid licenses to pilots

January 23, 2010

By Rainier Allan Ronda

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is issuing invalid licenses for pilots and aircraft mechanics, as well as certificates of registration and air worthiness for aircraft as a result of the appointment of unqualified officers into key technical positions.

Cesar Lucero, vice president of the CAAP Employees Union, warned that the issuance of the invalid licenses and certificates by the CAAP could pose serious problems to aviation firms in times of air mishaps especially when it comes to claiming insurance. “Insurance companies could refuse to honor claims by questioning the licenses and certificates of concerned pilots and airlines,” Lucero told The Star.

Lucero said that the Flight Standards and Inspectorate Service (FSIS), the main regulatory arm of CAAP, was in effect issuing invalid licenses and certificates due to ultra vires acts and illegal appointments of consultants and co-terminus employees into highly-technical positions, who have recently signed the licenses and certificates issued by the agency. He said that under RA 9497, otherwise known as the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, which created CAAP, the power to issue airman licenses and aviation related certificates exclusively belongs to the Director Generals alone.

Since 2008, the CAAP-EU has observed that the FSIS director appointed by CAAP director-general Ruben Ciron, Eduardo Batac, have been issuing and signing licenses and certificates in direct violation of RA 9497. “The signing of the pilot and aircraft mechanic licenses as well as certificates of registration and air worthiness could not be delegated by Ciron to Batac,” Lucero said.


“The acts of the FSIS are what can be called ultra vires and illegal, in effect rendering their issued licenses and certificates null and void,” Lucero said.

Ciron, for his part, denied the allegations of the CAAP-EU. “There is no question on the validity of the licenses and the certificates,” Ciron told The Star in an interview yesterday at the ground breaking rites of the P2.5 billion Caticlan airport upgrade project at the Caticlan airport. Ciron said that Batac, as FSIS director, merely endor-ses the licenses for him to sign for his approval. Ciron said that Batac also had the qualification for the FSIS top position. “I’m the one who signs the licenses,”Ciron said.

Batac, a retired officer of the Philippine Air Force like Ciron, it was learned, was one of the head executive assistants hired by Ciron into the CAAP, with the post being a “co-terminus” appointment which means that the appointment expires upon the end of the appointing official’s tenure.

Batac’s deputy, Romeo Alamillo, also a retired military general, was hired into the CAAP by Ciron as a consultant.

Lucero stressed that both Batac and Alamillo have no civil aviation management experience or expertise.

The CAAP-EU, Lucero said, noted that under existing laws and regulations, both Batac and Alamillo are prohibited to hold positions exercising control and supervision over regular employees.

It will be recalled that the CAAP-EU is questioning the appointment by Ciron of retired military officers with no civil aviation management expertise into the CAAP since its creation in late 2008.

Embraer opens RP branch

Names Raco Trading as its agent

January 22, 2010

RACO TRADING PHILS INC. was recently appointed the exclusive Philippine sales agent for Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S.A.’s (Embraer) line of executive jets.

The Brazil based aircraft manufacturer offers the Lineage 1000, Legacy 650, Legacy 600, Legacy 500, Legacy 450, Phenom 300 and Phenom 100 aircraft.

Established in Brazil in 1969, as part of the government’s strategic aircraft manufacturing project, Embraer was privatized in 1994. It is now a publicly traded aircraft maker catering to corporate, commercial and defense aviation sectors.

"Embraer is marketing the Phenom 100 executive jet to the Philippines" says Ramon Arnaiz who heads the Embraer sales team.

The company recently lost its major sale to the Philippine government when the Office of the President deferred its plan to purchase a new generation jet said to be Legacy 600 for the use of the Chief Executive valued at 1.2 billion pesos.

Arnaiz said they hoped to offer the legacy jet to the next President of the Philippines.

Embraer did a marketing blitz of select Asia-Pacific countries, including the Philippines, to showcase one of their new line of executive jets particularly the Phenom 100 which was on display at Mactan airport in Cebu last January 19 and in Manila from January 20 to 22.

The Phenom 100 was introduced by Embraer in 2005, and is the most comfortable business jet in the entry-level category, accommodating four passengers in the club seat configuration. The aircraft is capable of flying at 41,000 feet, attained by a direct climb, even when fully loaded.

The executive jet is also designed to perform short-field takeoffs or landings and to fly at a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.70, or 390 knots which is ideal for Presidential and senatorial bets for their election campaigns. It can fly nonstop from New York to Miami, in the US; from London to Rome, in Europe; from Brisbane to Melbourne, in Australia; from Cebu to Taipei or Hong Kong, or from Manila to Shanghai or Hanoi in Asia.

With a 2010 delivery price of $3,830,000, the Phenom 100 is one of the most cost effective planes in the market today. And the ultimate (and most desirable) business tool for those in the corporate world who can afford it.

Embraer employs in excess of 17,000 employees with manufacturing and service centers in Brazil, France, US, Singapore and China.

In 2008, the company generated sales in excess of $ 6.3 billion delivering 204 aircraft to satisfied clients around the world.

JAL comforts Philippine passengers

Amidst bankruptcy declaration

January 22, 2010

TOKYO - Japan Airlines (JAL) sought to reassure the traveling public in the Philippines that it will keep flying despite declaring bankruptcy as it plans to keep flight to Manila which the airline said is not one of its unprofitable routes.

The national carrier also announced that it intends to retire its 37 Boeing 747-400s, axe 15,700 jobs almost equivalent to one-third of its workforce, and cut unprofitable routes.

JAL has a fleet of 279 aircraft with more than 70 on order, including 35 Boeing 787s. It serves 217 destinations in 35 countries. It intends to continue flying the Philippines using a much smaller Boeing triple seven and B767 series planes.

The debt-laden carrier has apologized for causing "tremendous worries to customers" and promised that "JAL will keep flying" and that passengers' air miles will remain valid.

"Please be reassured and use us as before," the company pleaded.

The once iconic airline, a symbol of Japan's rise to prosperity, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday with 26 billion dollars in debt in the country's biggest post-war corporate failure outside the financial sector.

JAL, which carries more than 50 million passengers a year, is set to receive almost 10 billion dollars in public funds and emergency loans under a three-year turnaround plan.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange will delist JAL shares by February 20, a move expected to wipe out shareholders' investments.

The company has made no announcement regarding its tie-up talks with American and Delta Air Lines, which are in a bidding war for a slice of the carrier, eyeing its lucrative Asian landing slots.

JAL is understood to prefer switching its alliance from the American Airlines-led oneworld grouping to SkyTeam with Delta.

But it is expected to take some time for JAL and Delta to clear anti-trust hurdles and get approval from US authorities for joint operations.

The government has tapped Kazuo Inamori, a 77-year-old entrepreneur, business guru and ordained Buddhist monk, to run the stricken airline during its overhaul, replacing Haruka Nishimatsu, who resigned as president Tuesday.

777 takes Tokyo flight

As PAL takes delivery of second triple seven

January 21, 2010

Philippine airlines takes delivery of its second Boeing 777-300ER (RP-C7776) aircraft today. It is scheduled to exclusively service most of the Manila-Narita route and vice versa. It will begin flight rotations to Hongkong and Sydney in March.

In commemorating its arrival, the airline is launching the short-term promotional fares on flights to all its domestic jet destinations in Luzon and Visayas with P777 one-way flat rate on Fiesta Class (economy), dubbed as “Valentine Special.” The promo is also available for flights between Cebu and Davao. While Mindanao will have a promo fare rate of P1,777 in Fiesta class.

Covered by the promo are PAL-operated flights between Manila and Bacolod, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iloilo, Kalibo, Laoag, Legazpi, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, Tacloban, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga; as well as between Cebu and Davao.

These fares are available for ticketing until Jan. 25, 2010 and are valid for travel from Feb. 1 to March 15, 2010.

Meanwhile, PAL is also offering a promotional round-trip deal for its flight overseas, with Fiesta Class fares between Manila and choice destinations as follows:
$128 for Hong Kong, Macau or Taipei;
$158 for Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City;
$178 for Singapore or Jakarta;
$258 for Osaka or Shanghai;
$328 for Beijing;
$518 for Tokyo; and
$798 for Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The promotional deal excludes flight to Australia, Guam, Hawaii and Vancouver.

The promo fares are exclusive of government taxes and are non-refundable although rebooking is allowed.

When Jollibee is better

The legacy of flying budget

By Stanley Palisada

In the 2003 Gwyneth Paltrow starrer “View from the Top”, Candice Bergen who played accomplished Flight Attendant Sally Weston said “Gone are the days when people traveled in style”.

In the era of budget airlines, people take a plane as though it was just a bus. Flying today is like riding a pedicab or a PUJ where comfort or service does not matter as long as the airline delivers its promise to “get you there”-- and in one piece (literally, as you’re dead broke per additional baggage).

In the age of legacy airlines, air travel was a holiday in itself. People looked forward to flying to experience pampering in the sky, courtesy of well-screened flight attendants who exude the warmth and hospitality of the countries or cultures they represent. They made the flyer fall in love at 30,000 feet in those days (and I mean that in the most non-mile-high-club way).

In-flight meals were prepared by top (Frenchy) chefs and the aperitif, selected meticulously to please the most Britishly-discriminating traveler. Linen sheets, hot towels, newspapers of all sorts and in-flight entertainment were all part of the legacy airline experience.

Today, flights take off as unceremoniously as the printing of the eTicket. People are loaded up in packed cabins as airlines value profits in “seat cost per mile”--- more than passengers succumbing to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) after being held for hours on an indecently cramped seat built for people with no legs. Travel is nowhere near “tranquil” as their safety card suggests.

Blame it on the fuel crisis, terrorism and the airlines’ unrelenting hunger for survival.

Passengers these days can only be thankful that their planes did not slam into iconic buildings or explode mysteriously over the ocean. Thanks to well-maintained planes (there goes your in-flight lunch) and the invasiveness of today’s airport security whose x-ray machines are built to detect man’s biggest (or smallest) secrets. Add to that the frisking and occasional “cupping” which makes me want to sue for acts of lasciviousness or slight physical injuries (for rough searches). As a frequent traveler, I go through all these airport molestations habitually.

And gone are the days of full service airlines as everyone’s going for ultra low fare. Again the fuel crisis has severed many of the privileges travelers once enjoyed. Planes need to fly light to save on fuel thus passengers should either be stick-thin or they travel naked.

Baggage allowance has decreased to almost nil. Okay, I know Filipinos are not light travelers but promo fares that only allow 7 kilos of baggage (which weighs just about as light as the nation’s self-esteem) is blatantly un-Filipino.

Nowadays many are forced to travel light or they “pay per succeeding kilo” upon check-in, which actually stalls the long queues in that yellow airline’s counter. On another airline an Econolite passenger’s seat gets a round sticker to indicate (with utmost humiliation) that his ticket is super cheap. The stickers tell flight attendants not to give newspapers or serve snacks that are exclusively for those who paid more.

But not to worry, the snacks they’re serving would really cost less than 20 pesos from a neighborhood sari sari store (you may buy on the way to the airport) as it’s merely soda crackers and water--- or menu befitting yoyo dieters and anorexic super models.

The other airline also does not serve free snacks. One has to buy from their trolley-full of Jack n Jill products (big fan of Chippy here but not at airborne prices) or a very expensive bottle of C2--- unaffordable even to their supposed budget-challenged guests. Apparently this low fare, great value airline wants to promote its other products at passengers’ expense. Literally.

Meantime the other emerging orange juice airline serves—well---orange juice (in doy pack) to its passengers, free of charge. It’s reminiscent of yellow airline’s free chiz curls and pepsi days when it was just starting up. Orange juice air serves free juice in-flight to attract a following. And it’s been a while since I last saw their juice brand outside a memorial park. It’s finally refreshing to have that brand associated with happier times!

Now back to that legacy airline also dabbling in budgetry… I once took its noontime flight to Cagayan De Oro and a group traveling on Econolite brought meals knowing that they will not be served anything on the plane.

The cabin reeked of Chicken Joy for the entire duration of the flight. The rest of us watched (mouth watering with envy) as the Econoliters devoured their lunch of 2-piece-fried-chicken-with-rice-coke-and-peach-mango-pie--- while the rest of us reluctantly finished off our sachet of Happy peanuts, gulping it down with a cup of coffee as bland as sugar crisis.

Passengers in the age of budget travel can really fight back at some of the airlines’ inequities.

After lunching the Econoliters handed over to the flight attendants their trash, plastics, spoons, forks, straws, empty Jollibee upsized cups, styrofoam packs with piles of chicken bones and dripping gravy.

Afterall Econolite does not mean airline will not take your trash as well. Mabuhay!

5J cleared to fly Beijeng

By Lenie Lectura
Business Mirror

January 19, 2010

CEBU Air Inc., which operates carrier Cebu Pacific, has hurdled the first half of the accreditation process to realize its plan to mount flights to Beijing.

Civil Aviation Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the agency approved the airline’s request during the agency’s recent en banc meeting. “We already approved it but their application needs to be approved by the aviation officials in Beijing because it is a two-way process,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Cebu Pacific is Asia’s third-largest low-cost carrier. The CAB official said the Gokongwei-owned airline wants to service the route three times weekly.

The airline, in its application, will utilize the Airbus A320 units to service the new route in China.

Cebu Pacific already flies to 14 other international destinations, namely: Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Incheon, Busan, Osaka, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta and Bangkok.

The low-cost carrier claims to have the country’s youngest aircraft fleet, composed of 21 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR72-500 aircraft.

The airline’s vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said in a separate interview that Cebu Pacific has yet to be informed by the CAB of its decision and that no date has been set as to when the airline will start flights to Beijing.

“At the moment, [Beijing] is still part of our route network study since we haven’t got any confirmation yet,” she said.

It usually takes at least three months from the time of the approval of the application from both countries before Cebu Pacific can start mounting flights to new destinations.

“There’s a lot to work on. It’s still a long wait away. We have to look into the setup of distribution channels, availability of aircraft and the needed time to sell the new route. First and foremost we need to obtain the rights which we did by filing an application and from there we will work on the final details upon approval,” said Iyog.

The airline has pending applications to service new destinations such as Brunei and Australia and new routes in Japan.

Cebu Pacific swung to profitability in the third quarter of last year, posting a net income of P1.78 billion against a net loss of P1.87 billion in the same period in 2008.

Revenues hit P16.22 billion during the first nine months last year, a 16.1- percent growth over last year’s P13.98 billion brought about by additional routes, increase in flight frequencies and capacity increase due to additional three Airbus A320 and five ATR72-500 acquired in recent months.

The peso appreciation in September 2009 brought about a foreign exchange gain of P25.65 million in 2009 compared to a foreign exchange loss of P1.57 billion recorded for the same period last year. Fuel hedging for the nine months in 2009 also recognized a gain amounting to P534.12 million from a loss of P485.08 million for the same period last year. All these factors contributed to the turnaround of the airline’s bottomline.

At end-September last year, Cebu Pacific carried 5.35 million passengers or a 38.2-percent increase compared in the same period last year.

PAL flies back to Riyahd

Starts service on March 28

January 17, 2009
MANILA – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines restores the long-awaited service to the middle east by flying back to Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital on March 28, 2010 after an absence of four years to the region.

The non-stop service will operate four times weekly to the delight of the large Filipino community, with flight PR 658 departing Manila every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:20 p.m. It arrives in the Saudi capital at 11:00 p.m. (Riyadh time) The return service, PR 659, departs Riyadh at 12:30 a.m. every Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, and arrives back in Manila at 3:00 p.m. (Manila time)

The company said that a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which seat 50 passengers in Mabuhay Class (business) and 383 in Fiesta Class (economy), will be deployed for the route with daily services expected within the next eight months for the hajj pilgrimage season.

the airline first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987 and over the decades the Saudi capital became one of its most important points. PAL last served Riyadh, its final destination in the Middle East, on March 2, 2006. The service was suspended by the company for commercial reasons in the midst of corporate rehabilitation.

The flag carrier’s return to the region has been welcomed by Filipino expatriates, who number about 2 million – one of the largest foreign communities working there.

"PAL has been traditionally favored by Filipinos in the Middle East because its direct service to Manila means that they get home faster compared to other carriers, whose flights involve up to two stops in intermediate cities before proceeding to Manila," the airline said.

Riyadh will become the 25th international destination for PAL as it tries to bring back slowly its network back to the pre-1997 level. This year, the airline already managed to brought back two destinations for its international network supplemented by 29 domestic points in the Philippines. The other plan service on the drawing board for the middle east is Kuwait City and the four European connections in London, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt by 2014.

The only other local airline with flights to the Middle East is Spirit of Manila Airlines, a Qatari owned subsidiary company operating at Manila Clark airport. Spirit of Manila started two weekly flights to Bahrain from Clark last December 18, 2009. It also plans to start service to Dubai this year using its fleet of MD-80's.

Caticlan airport upgrade launched

2.5 Billion project on full swing

January 16, 2010

Caticlan - The first Built Operate and Transfer (BOT) airport in the country was launched by no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday as she laid together with Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and private airport operator George Yang-led Caticlan International Airport Development Corporation, the time capsule officially starting the work for the Caticlan Airport Development Program (CADP) in Aklan.

Currently there are two airline operators in Caticlan, PAL Express and SEAIR. The airport brought in 761,961 passengers and 6.28 million kilos of cargo in 2008 making it the busiest domestic airport in the country outside Manila in terms of aircraft movements.

The Caticlan International Airport Development Corporation, which was awarded 25 year airport concession, will undertake the modernization program on a BOT (build operate transfer) scheme at a cost of P2.507 billion.

The modernization programs will be done in four phases with construction duration of seven years.

The first phase will involve the improvement of the existing terminal building to add more passenger capacity in the interim, while simultaneously constructing extension and widening of the runway to accommodate ATR 72, MA-60 and Q400 of operating airlines. The parking area will also be expanded together with other ancillary airport facilities. The Project is slated to be completed in one year after which the second phase will commence.

The airport operator will add another floor to the one-storey terminal building on the second year of the program together with the flattening out of the hill that hampers aircraft's safe approach from the east.The project will involve movement of 350,000 cubic meters of soil to be used for reclamation project of the airport. It is also obliged in the contract to fence in the airport, upgrade the fire station equipments, and fit the facility with new navigational aids to enable it to be an ICAO standard airport. The second phase has construction duration of three years from the completion of phase one or year 2011.

The third phase will require construction of runway extension and widening for another 1000 meters to make it a class 4D airport with 2,000 meter runway sufficient to accommodate domestic A320 and B737NG flights. The construction work has a duration of two years from 2014.

In 2016, the airport operator will construct a new and bigger two storey terminal building with optional aerobridge facilities for the last and final phase of the project.

Upon completion in 2018, the airport will be able to accommodate wide body jets with passengers bound to Boracay Island while retaining international flight operations at Kalibo airport which now host flights from China, Korea, and Taiwan.

What's wrong with Caticlan Airport?

Airport restrictions hurting Boracay tourism

By Daxim Lucas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Flying to the world famous Boracay Island for a weekend getaway in one of its many resorts used to be a fast, convenient and affordable experience for hundreds of thousands of foreign and local tourists each year.

Up until the third quarter of last year, visitors could fly from Manila to nearby Caticlan airport in as little as 35 minutes, take a short ferry ride to the island’s white sand beaches, and check into a hotel room within an hour and a half of leaving the metropolis.

All this changed when aviation authorities imposed flight restrictions on Caticlan airport after a string of aircraft accidents and “near misses.” That left only high-end niche carrier Southeast Asian Airline as the sole operator to the gateway of Boracay.

More affordable flights operated by PAL Express, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air—all of which charged cheaper fare—had to be diverted to Kalibo Airport which is a two-hour land trip away from Caticlan.

“The effects of this flight diversions really hit the local tourism industry badly,” said Ike Guanio, who is the chief operating officer of Boracay’s sprawling Fairways and Bluewater Resort Golf and Country Club.

“At one point, [reservation] cancellations [for local resort hotels] reached as high as 70 percent,” he added. “We were all affected.”

In an interview with the Inquirer, Guanio explained that a large number of tourists who visit Boracay Island do so during weekends, flying in on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings, and returning to Manila or Cebu on Sunday afternoons.

The limited operations of Caticlan airport—which forced most airlines to fly tourists in via Kalibo—had turned off many potential travelers, putting a dampener on the island’s multimillion-peso tourism industry.

“Time is precious for weekend tourists,” Guanio said. “They don’t want to spend half of Saturday getting to Boracay and half of Sunday getting out of Boracay.”

“Right now, it has become really inconvenient for people to come to Boracay, especially if they fly in via Kalibo,” he said, pointing to the approaching peak summer travel season. “We need Caticlan to resume operations to restore, or even improve, tourist traffic.”

Over the long term, what is needed is for Caticlan airport’s 900-meter runway to be extended to at least 1,800 meters for it to be able to accommodate the Airbus A320 aircraft.

For the short term, a 50-meter-high hill on one end of the runway has to be reduced in size. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap), the hill prevents larger turboprop aircraft from flying in and out of the airport.

The challenge was taken up by the the Caticlan International Airport Development Corp. (CIADC), a consortium majority-owned by businessman George Yang, more famously known for bringing the McDonald’s fastfood chain to the country.

With a P2.5-billion bid, CIADC secured a 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal to extend the runway and build a new terminal for the airport.

Recently, however, the deal has come under intense attack from critics who claim that the airport expansion will adversely affect the environment on Boracay Island, which is separated form Caticlan by a deep channel.

In particular, critics of the deal have presented to the media one environment official who claimed that the development plan would eventually cause Boracay’s white sand beaches to be eroded.

In several interviews made with local stakeholders, however, another motive has emerged for the opponents of the Caticlan airport expansion: property speculation.

“There’s another group that’s pushing for the development of an international airport on Carabao Island,” said Aklan lawmaker Florencio Miraflores. “It’s just a proposal [at this point], but it’s being aggressively marketed as an alternative project.”

Along with other local officials, Miraflores believes that business—and not the environment—is the root of the opposition to the Caticlan airport expansion.

Proposed rival airport blamed for Caticlan woes

THE MAN accused of being behind the smear campaign against the expansion of the busy but undersized Caticlan airport is Boracay businessman and resort
owner Steve Tajanlangit.

He is one of the pioneer locators in the world-famous holiday destination
and owns large properties on the island, having recently sold one such prime piece of real estate to the Shangri-La Hotel group on which a posh resort now stands.

According to Boracay locals and government officials interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer – many of whom know Tajanlangit personally, and thus spoke anonymously – the businessman has been at the forefront of efforts to stop the P2.5-billion expansion of the Caticlan airport.

Apart from trying to rally public opinion against the project, they also pointed to Tajanlangit as the instigator of a campaign in the local and national media, which revolves around environmental issues.

More importantly, Tajanlangit is being accused of opposing the Caticlan airport expansion because of his own plans to put up an international airport on nearby Carabao Island – on a large tract of land which he owns.

It is a charge Tajanlangit denies.

“They all say we’re against Caticlan airport,” the businessman said in an interview with the Inquirer. “Yes, we’re against it, but we’re not talking against it.”

Tajanlangit claims that leveling a 50-meter hill in Caticlan to make way for an extended runway will result in a “wind channel” that could potentially blow black sand from the mainland over to Boracay across the narrow strait, contaminating the island’s world-famous white sand.

He distanced himself, however, from the opinion issued by a local official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which put forward this theory.

“I don’t even know that person,” he said.

To counter this argument, the George Yang-led Caticlan International Airport Development Corp. (CIADC) – backed by the Aklan provincial government – released copies of official DENR approvals certifying to the environmental soundness of the project.

“The channel is so deep and wide that there is no way the sand from Caticlan can reach Boracay,” said Aklan Representative Florencio Miraflores.

Tajanlangit did admit, however, that he wanted the alternative airport located on his Carabao Island property, which he said was a more ideal location than Caticlan.

“It’s not [land] speculation,” the businessman said. “That’s not true. We bought the land for the airport, yes. But we don’t have beachfront property. But we might, in the future.”

In fact, the area that Tanjanlangit wants to develop into an international airport has already been fenced in. He said he was just now waiting to seal funding deals with potential partners.

With the right partner, he said the new airport would be ready for operations by as soon as 2012.

Under aviation regulations, however, no two commercial airports are allowed to operate within 25 nautical miles of each other. This is to maintain minimum aircraft separation distances.

This was confirmed by Civil Aviation Administration of the Philippines director general Ruben Ciron, who said that Tajanlangit’s planned Carabao Island airport cannot coexist with Caticlan.

“It’s one or the other,” he said.

While the fight plays out, tourism
in Boracay continues to suffer.

In fact, resort operators interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said that the bulk of their foreign clients have been turned off by the poor transportation infrastructure chain.

“They all love Boracay,” said one manager, requesting anonymity because of personal ties with Tajanlangit. “But 70 percent of them tell me they will never come back here. It’s simply too much trouble.”

As far as CIADC is concerned, it recently received the approval from MalacaƱang to break ground on the Caticlan airport expansion, and is set to start reducing the height of the controversial hill today with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leading groundbreaking rites.

But Tajanlangit remained defiant.

“We don’t even have to attack [the Caticlan project],” he said. “I’m willing to bet they can’t convert that into an international airport.”

Instead, the businessman – accused of trying to block the deal despite a potential conflict of interest situation – offered CIADC an alternative solution: “If they want, they can go into a joint venture deal with us.”

Meanwhile, the tourists and the local economy wait.

NAIA Security Breached

teen dressed as pilot arrested

By Jerome Aning
January 13, 2009

Hani Bokhari, a Saudi national and a flying school student of Master Flying School. Image courtesy by Eric Apolonio
MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) BI) has taken custody of a 19-year-old student pilot from Saudi Arabia who was arrested on Monday night for entering a restricted area at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) without the required clearance.

BI-Naia operations chief Ferdinand Sampol said Hani Bokhari would soon be transferred to the BI detention center in Bicutan, Taguig City, after it learned that his visa expired two weeks ago.

“He’s an overstaying alien and he will be deported without prejudice to the charges that airport authorities may file against him,” Sampol added.

He said Bokhari was initially detained at the immigration holding area but he was brought to a nearby hospital after he collapsed and complained of feeling unwell.

“Once we confirm that his vital signs are normal, we will bring him to Bicutan. We did not bring him on Monday night because of security concerns about transporting him at night,” the BI-Naia official told the Inquirer on the phone.

“We are treating this [incident] as a serious breach of [security]. We find it alarming because just by being dressed as a pilot, he went to place where he’s not supposed to be found,” Sampol said.

Based on an initial report, Bokhari, who was dressed in a pilot’s uniform, entered the Naia Terminal departure area at around noon on Monday and went into the arrival section without obtaining the required pass.

He was apprehended by airport security at around 6 p.m. as he leaving the gate reserved for airline employees. He was then placed under arrest when he failed to show any authorization or passport. All that he presented was an identification card showing that he was the dependent of a Saudia Airlines’ crew member.

The Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) which runs the Naia terminals said it was conducting a security review to prevent similar incidents, Miaa General Manager Alfonso Cusi said.

Bokhari, a student of the Master Flying School in Pasay City, said he was just waiting for his father, Abdullah Bokhari, a former Saudia pilot, who was due to arrive in Manila on Monday night.

He explained that he was wearing a pilot’s uniform because he wanted to surprise his father.

He later called up his brother, Mohammad, and asked him to bring his passport to Naia.

Delta Airlines open RP Branch

Finalized consolidation of its Northwest subsidiary

January 12, 2010

Manila- Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Inc. has recently set up shop in the Philippines as it consolidates its foothold in the country after acquiring Northwest Airlines for $2.8 billion in stock share swap in October 2008 to become the world's biggest airline.

The Philippine's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has allowed the biggest airline in the world to transact business and to establish a branch in the Philippines with office address at the 10th floor of Philamlife Tower in Makati City. The office will be engaged in “international air transportation services.”

The airline's Philippine office has an initial capital of USD $200,000 equivalent to 9.4 million pesos, consisting of 1.5 billion common shares and 500,000 preferred share at a par value of $0.0001 apiece.

Delta plans to fully integrate the operations of Northwest Manila office in Delta within the first quarter of this year after it received government permission (US FAA Certification) to operate its namesake service and its Northwest Airlines subsidiary as a single carrier, a Delta executive said.

More than 80 percent of pre-merger Northwest aircraft have already been painted over with the Delta livery. Employees of Delta and Northwest are already wearing the same uniforms, and the two carriers' frequent-flier programs have also been combined under the Delta SkyMiles brand.

"Initially, the two carriers have been kept separate while Delta sought the FAA certificate" says Richard Anderson, Delta chief executive.

The single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration allows Delta to put its code on Northwest flights and phase out the Northwest name. That process will be completed in the first quarter. For now, travelers won't notice anything different.

“The airline industry faces a very difficult economic environment around the world and this merger gives Delta increased flexibility to adapt to the economic challenges ahead,” Anderson said in a statement.

Delta plans to operate Northwest-coded flights until all seats and fares are consolidated in Delta's reservations system. Once that occurs, it will remove the distinction for passengers of purchasing on Delta or Northwest, and the Northwest Web site will be folded into Delta's.

The merger is expected to give Delta Air Lines $2 billion in annual revenue and a more comprehensive and diversified route system. It already operates an extensive domestic and international network that has a flight to every continent except Antarctica.

It has massive hubs in Amsterdam, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita.

Pacific Flier, up and almost away!

Ownership issues defers flight plans!

January 11, 2010

Koror- Newly formed airline Pacific flier suffered a stumbling block in its bid to launch international flight services to the Philippines after the FAA refused to grant it a foreign air carrier's permit.

The FAA decision prompted the Palau-based carrier owned by Aviation Matters to suspend and defer its flight plans from Koror to Brisbane, Manila and Guam scheduled for January 12 launch due to ownership issues as found by the FAA, an airline executive said Monday.

"We are still waiting for the FAA's approval but unfortunately they wont be coming any time soon due to some technical and legal issues with them" says Eckert Seamans, Legal representative for the airline.

Pacific Flier Airline is supposed to start flight on January 12 using an Airbus A310-300 from Hi Fly-Transportes Aereos, S.A, a Portuguese-based leasing firm. But Continental Micronesia protested said application on grounds of ownership as effective control of the airline belongs to HiFly, a charter airline based in Lisbon Portugal.

The FAA said that while Aviation Matters, the holdidng company of Pacific Flier, is incorporated in Palau, majority of its owners are not citizens of the island making it a foreign controlled airline. Due to ownership issues, the operators permit was denied killing the airlines hope of flying the pacific skies under the current corporate regime.

"We already filed a petition to the FAA for an exemption to the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) for a foreign air carrier permit and they are pending resolution" says Seamans.

While the airline waits for its approval, they were prevented from selling airline tickets for the proposed destination until a permit is issued.

The leased aircraft (cn495) with registry CS-TEI is capable of accommodating 18 business and 176 economy passengers says Shane Styles, the airline’s marketing head.

"The Airbus 310 is supposed to arrived from Lisbon to Clark airport in Manila via Dubai tomorrow as it start scheduled flight to Koror" says Styles. One way fare from Clark has been pegged at $230 per person and $459 return, exclusive of government taxes.

Pacific flier scheduled departure every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Palau to Manila Clark at 7:00 AM with arrivals at 10:35AM for a travel time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Schedule for departures from Clark is every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday leaving at 5:40PM arriving Koror at 7:10PM Local time. It was then scheduled to leave for Brisbane in Australia and back to Koror before proceeding to Guam and back to Koror then Manila in that rotation.

Styles said that flyers were already circulated to travel agents in a 16-page brochure offering packages in Guam and Palau but the airline's booking engine was disabled by FAA preventing them to take online bookings.

Jin Air flies Clark

Starts flight on January 14
January 9, 2009

Seoul- Low Cost carrier Jin Air announces the launching of flight services from Seoul Incheon airport to Manila Clark in the Philippines making it Jin Air's second international destination in Southeast Asia after introducing flight to Bangkok in December 21, 2009.

The Korean Air subsidiary will be operating a daily Boeing 737-800 charter flights on its first month of operation from 14 January to the second week of February after which it hopes to fly scheduled service says Kim Jae-kun, president and chief executive of Jin Air.

“Jin Air’s Incheon-Clark route will provide Korean passengers alternative schedule to fly to the Philippines for holiday travel and business trips,” said Kim. It will be competing with Asiana airlines which already fly the route.

Jin Air operates a fleet of four Boeing 737-800's that has a seating capacity of 180 passengers all in one class. The airline plans to get a fifth 737-800 in March and plans to launch services to Osaka, Guam, Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Weihai in China.

“Flights to Southeast Asian nations are the best and most profitable international routes for budget carriers and Jin Air aims to become a front-runner in the Asian budget carriers industry with our own competitive pricing, flight schedules and, most of all, safety operations,” Kim said.

Four local budget carriers fly the Korean skies namely Jin Air, Jeju Air, Air Busan and Eastar Jet. Jeju Air was the first of the four to offer international flights, to from Seoul to Osaka and Kitakyushu in Japan, last year, while Air Busan, the budget airline of Asiana Airlines, has plans to fly from Busan to Fukuoka, Japan, starting next year.

Busiest Airport in the Philippines



Airport Code

Airport Name

2008 Passengers

2009 Passengers Growth Percentile


24,108,554 8.3
2 CEB MACTAN CEBU INTERNATIONAL APT 3,642,862 4,394,823 20.6
4 ILO ILOILO APT 1,073,907 1,324,148 23.3
5 CGY LUMBIA APT 902,184 1,110,668 23.1
6 BCD SILAY APT 843,488 1,020,429 21.0
7 TAC DANIEL RUMUALDEZ APT 627,201 831,650 32.6
8 KLO KALIBO INTERNATIONAL APT 400,042 639,797 59.9
11 TAG TAGBILARAN APT 400,814 562,787 40.4
12 MPH CATICLAN APT 761,961 543,422 -28.7
13 LGP LEGASPI APT 282,409 412,875 46.2
14 GES GENERAL SANTOS APT 302,887 404,859 33.7
15 BXU BUTUAN APT 308,405 385,331 24.9
16 DGT DUMAGUETE APT 306,182 360,515 17.7
17 CBO AWANG APT 104,535 199,133 90.5
18 DPL DIPOLOG APT 143,819 189,264 31.6
19 RXS ROXAS APT 115,375 173,132 50.1
20 OZC OZAMIZ APT 80,290 161,058 100.6
NOTES: Clark APT registered 605,712 pax which should put it on the 9th spot were it not for the official exclusion. Although Plaridel APT registered 222,525 pax they cannot also be considered in the ranking because most of the traffic have the same departure and arrival point coming from aviation school trainings. RPUX is the largest and busiest GA airport in the country.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; Airport, Passenger and Cargo Database.
Copyright © 2010 Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.