RP eyes more HK flights

Carrier wants to add seats to Indonesia

By Aura Marie P. Dagcutan

September 14, 2010

The Philippines will push through with air talks with Hong Kong in the last quarter of the year, with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) saying the Aug. 23 hostage fiasco would not affect negotiations for additional entitlements.

Carmelo L. Arcilla, CAB executive director, said in a telephone interview yesterday the bloody hostage drama that killed eight tourists from Hong Kong was “just a temporary setback” for the country.

“To date, we have an entitlement of more than 10,000 seats weekly for the Manila-Hong Kong route. We are confident that we will close the deal with the Hong Kong air panel ... This is a regular activity we do with them and other countries,” he said.

Mr. Arcilla said the Philippine air panel would be also talking with China, Indonesia, and Italy. The Philippines has 10,000 seats per week for China and Indonesia.

“We still don’t have the figures on how many additional seats we will be negotiating for. The country’s air panel will convene this month to set how many additional seats we need,” he said.

The panel is made up of the CAB and representatives of the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Department of Tourism, and the private sector.

The latest air deal for Philippines came in May with Singapore. Deals with Qatar and South Korea were also signed before the entry of the new administration.

Mr. Arcilla said Cebu Pacific has requested 540 additional seats for its Manila to Indonesia flights.

Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing and distribution Candice A. Iyog told BusinessWorld in a separate interview the carrier had requested for additional 540 seats to accommodate four new Airbus 320s that would arrive from October this year to January next year.

Meanwhile, Mr. Arcilla said the CAB awarded Singapore entitlements early last month to Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, Zest Air, and Airphil Express. The flag carrier got 700 seat entitlements or four weekly flights. From 28 flights per week, PAL now has 32 flights a week to Singapore.

Cebu Pacific Air, which flies to Singapore 25 times a week, got 908 seats or six more flights a week. The budget carrier can now mount 32 flights per week to Singapore. Airphil Express and Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit) can now mount daily flights to Singapore.

Moreover, the CAB will seek to amend existing agreements with European Union members such as Italy and Germany.

“While the local carriers have been banned to fly to the countries in Europe, we still have to amend our existing deals with them. They are actually requiring us to amend the agreement to a community designation deal,” he said.

Mr. Arcilla said that in a community designation agreement, a European country can designate an airline to operate in the Philippines. “The amended agreement will give the flexibility to designate an airline to invest and operate in the Philippines. It would translate to more carriers operating here,” he said.

The CAB has so far sealed amended deals with Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland and Turkey.

Local airlines are banned in Europe due to the country’s failure to meet international safety assessments. - Businessworld

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