Philippines Busiest Airport



Airport Code

Airport Name

2009 Passengers

2010 Passengers Growth Percentile


27,119,899 12.4
2 CEB MACTAN CEBU INTERNATIONAL APT 4,394,823 5,791,387 31.7
4 ILO ILOILO APT 1,324,148 1,581,304 17
5 CGY LUMBIA APT 1,110,668 1,301,502 23.1
6 BCD SILAY APT 1,020,429 1,223,491 19.8
7 KLO(+1) KALIBO INTERNATIONAL APT 639,797 1,005,845 57
8 TAC(-1) DANIEL RUMUALDEZ APT 831,650 859,938 3.4
654,229 8
12 MPH(+1) CATICLAN APT 543,422 623,545 1.47
13 TAG(-1) TAGBILARAN APT 562,787 573,299 1.86
14 GES(+1) GENERAL SANTOS APT 404,859 477,535 17.9
15 LGP(-1) LEGASPI APT 412,875 435,151 5.3
16 BXU BUTUAN APT 385,331 382,843 -.06
17 DGT
SIBULAN APT 360,515 362,551 .05
18 CBO AWANG APT 199,133 219,104 9.5
19 OZC(+2) OZAMIZ APT 161,058 206,428 26
20 RXS(-1) ROXAS APT 173,132 203,840 17.7
NOTES: The fastest growing airport in 2010 is Kalibo, followed by Davao, Cebu, Ozamiz and Palawan. Clark APT registered 607,704 international pax and 46,525 domestic pax.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; Airport, Passenger and Cargo Database.
Copyright © 2011 Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Aviation Body Awards Mactan Airport

Philippines First Aerodrome Certificate

July 30, 2011

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After three years since the effectivity of Republic Act RA 9497 (Act creating CAAP), the Philippines Civil Aviation Regulators awarded yesterday Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) its first Aerodrome Certificate mandated by said law for passing the international aerodrome standards according to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) protocols.

Under Aviation Regulation 139.050, otherwise known as the "Civil Aviation Regulations for Aerodrome," Mactan airport was the first airport in the country to have complied all the requirements for the conduct of safe airport operations, from manpower, safety, fire and rescue, and other services requirements on what certified airports should be.

"It is the first airport in the country that is certified by CAAP in accord with ICAO aerodrome standards" Inocencio Ynsierto,ICAO representative in the Philippines said yesterday.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport bested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Luzon and Davao International Airport in Mindanao on the race for certification. NAIA and Davao airports are operated by MIAA.

Cebu's airport authority who is headed by General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete was grateful for the recognition, saying that it was his Airport Operations Department that made compliance possible.

“Since the MCIA is now the safest in the Philippines, it will attract more people to come to Cebu,” statement from the airport operator said.

Fifteen other airports in the country are undergoing certification process. Among them are Manila-NAIA, Manila-Clark, Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban, Davao, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga and Puerto Princesa.

The Civil Aviation Authority was establish in 2008 after the country’s repeated failure to comply with international aviation industry’s safety standards as certified by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the United States and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO.

Up to this date, the Philippines is still listed as category 2 (non-compliant) country of the FAA and was recently blacklisted by the European Union for its airline flying its airspace.

Turkish Airlines Opens Manila

Direct Flights Starts Winter 2011

July 25, 2011

Turkish Airlines enters code share deal with Philippine Airlines to offer flights from Manila to İstanbul via Hong Kong as it waits for aircraft delivery from Boeing

After failing to secure Fifth Freedom Rights from Bangkok, Turkey’s national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), has decided to fly to the Philippine capital direct beginning winter of 2011.

The airline opened a representative office in Manila recently. It plans to commence 3 times a week service to Istanbul. Turkish Airlines has a fleet of 169 aircraft and flies to 180 destinations worldwide.

“We have already started working to launch direct flights to Manila. We will place many newspaper ads here soon,” THY’s general manager in the Pacific region, Salih Keçe, said at the inauguration of its Manila office Saturday.

Initially, Turkish Airlines would ferry its passengers from Manila to Istanbul via Hongkong as it waits for Boeing aircraft delivery at the end of the year. THY currently fly to Hong Kong daily except Monday.

"We will be cooperating with Philippine Airlines to offer flights from Manila to İstanbul via Hong Kong" Keçe, said .

Accordingly, THY's passengers to Manila need to transfer and take a Philippine Airlines plane to Hong Kong and then a direct THY flight to İstanbul. They can buy tickets for both flights at THY’s office in the Philippine capital.

Turkish Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (TCCP) President İrfan Karabulut said that there are 35,000 passengers who travel between the two countries each year.

Turkish Airlines flight to Manila should contribute to the economic ties between Turkey and the Philippines.

The best airline in Europe for 2011 World Airline Awards given by Skytrak which is known as the Oscars of the aviation industry, flies to a total of 142 destinations directly, said Temel Kotil, The airline's CEO.

“THY has already placed orders for 10 planes to fly to African countries and is readying to start direct flights to Manila, the capital of the Philippines soon. We are just waiting for the planes to arrive” he said.

The airline which also won the Skytrak World’s Best Premium Economy Class Airline Seat and Best Airline Southern Europe awards is a member of the Star Alliance group.

Far and Away 2

Flying the Philippines Remotest Airport

July 24, 2011

By Joseph Holandes Ubalde

(This article was originally written in 2008, during the author’s visit to Pag-asa.
It has remained unpublished until now. The photos are also from that visit.)

PAGASA ISLAND, Palawan - After 45 minutes of staring at nothing but turquoise waters, Pag-asa Island finally appeared in my plane window like a sandy green gem, tiny waves lapping at its shore.

My excitement was replaced by sudden fear as the C-130 plane made a bumpy landing on the island’s lone airstrip.

When the doors opened, the balmy wind was first to welcome us. But instead of locals with garlands of flowers greeting us, a pack of soldiers in camouflage approached the plane.

To the rest of the world, this idyllic paradise, the second largest island in the disputed Spratly chain in the westernmost part of the Philippines, is perhaps the most secure and heavily guarded area in the country. But to the soldiers deployed there for six months, it seems more like the loneliest.

The only cellphone site on the island makes communication with the outside world a choppy four-hour frustration.

Only C-130 planes are allowed to fly over the Spratlys once a month for reconnaissance missions. And to prevent any sand blown by the sea breeze from clogging engines, a plane can only stay for a brief two hours.

After that, Pag-asa truly becomes an island.

I was among the lucky few civilians who managed to visit the island with 60 soldiers who were on a military school field trip last March 2008. My good friend, “Jodi” dragged me along with her to visit "Abe", her boyfriend, who happens to be one of the soldiers on Pag-Asa.

Lucky me indeed for visits to Pag-Asa are few and far in between. To get to the island we had to endure the hot and nauseating two-hour C-130 flight from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to Puerto Princesa in Palawan before transiting to the Spratly chain for another 45 minutes.

As soon as Jodi and Abe were reunited, I went off to discover the island on my own. It would take only 30 minutes to tour the entire 37.2-hectare island by foot. I started my two-hour stay there strolling the shore barefoot.

I had quickly undressed to my shorts, anticipating a quick dip. But no one else dared initiate it. Perhaps the soldiers were too busy taking pictures of each other. And I couldn’t blame them, since their first trip to the Spratlys could very well be their last.

A soldier there remarked that Pag-Asa is like Boracay before the tourist invasion of the late 80s—which allegedly caused the once turquoise water to turn mossy green— but with the added security of Camp Crame.

But as soon as we landed, it became clear that Pag-Asa is no Bora.

There are no umbrellas hoisted on the sand, no reclining white chairs for sunbathers, no hammocks swaying gently between the coconut trees. All one sees are ill-colored concrete boxes that soldiers call their camp.

Pag-Asa’s beach is also far from having Boracay’s talcum-like sand as broken corals bleaching under the scorching sun could quickly prick one’s toes. There are also purple lilies snaking through the beach in a seemingly desperate attempt to quench their thirst. Rocks, twigs and seashells dot the sand. Overturned fishing boats are stacked on the grass like a powerful wave swept them there.

But if it’s any consolation, in the absence of jet skis and sailboats, there’s the breathtaking view of a rusted Navy ship stuck in the shallows. No one really explained to me how the ghost ship got there but one of the soldiers pointed out that it’s a good way to scare foreign ships.

“They’re scared to get closer because they might get tetanus,” one of the soldiers joked.

It’s also amazing how nature and military might could blend in perfect harmony on Pag-Asa. A few meters from the camp is an abandoned army tractor left idled in eternal pose against the swaying needle-point grass. And in some minor Orwellian twist, one of the military latrines unwittingly became overrun by domestic geese, ducks, chickens and goats.

It’s not that soldiers there are poor housekeepers. Despite the construction of several structures on the island, the military has vowed to keep Pag-Asa as untouched as possible. So visitors are told to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing else but fond memories.

Although the water and the weather were inviting, the soldiers were content just sitting under the shade or collecting sand in emptied mineral water bottles.

But when Abe handed me his snorkeling gear, I wasted no time and immediately jumped into the water. I saw only a pair of fish on my initial dip, scurrying away so fast I had no time to marvel at them.

I was moving towards the sea grass bed in deeper waters when Abe called out and warned me not to go any further. Apparently, the warm tropical waters make excellent feeding grounds for a couple of sharks.

On a really clear day, a soldier said the Taiwanese flag from one of the smaller islands can be seen. But the Taiwanese never visit them. Instead, fishermen from Puerto Princesa, who know the bounty of the sea off Pag-Asa, regularly stopover and sell them their fresh catch.

And yes, the island is giving. A day before our scheduled arrival, Abe speared two medium-sized lobsters for Jodi to bring back home. Solders also dried freshly-caught ‘dalagang bukid’ as pasalubong for their visiting relatives.

With the island’s population kept below 350, supplies and space are closely monitored by the military. Every need of the soldier and the civilian on the island is accounted for. Their supply of rice or meat is meant only for those on the island. Should the soldiers need anything extra, they turn to the island and the sea.

I walked around the island with my camera. One Army colonel told me it would only take me a full hour to walk around the island and five months for the next C-130 plane to arrive if ever I decided to do just that and was late for the scheduled departure. Visits to this island by plane are rare as the military's C-130 plane can only land on the airstrip. Relatives of the soldiers can only visit when they join the military on reconnaissance missions to the island or board a four-our boat ride from Palawan.

While Pag-Asa’s soldiers have yet to fire a shot in anger, they are quick to learn to kill time in order to survive. They hold regular sports activities to keep fit, do minor construction work in the camp or jog around the island. With the weak cellphone signal in the area, the soldiers often end up frustrated when they try to contact their loved ones back home. Loneliness and boredom are always knocking on their door when they wake up.

Abe, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy, is fortunately not new to this.

While Pag-asa’s soldiers have yet to fire a shot in anger, they are quick to learn to kill time in order to survive. Abe, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy, is fortunately not new to this.

In his five years in the academy, Abe endured a series of mental and physical challenges that included isolation and seclusion. As a plebe, Abe was prohibited from being visited in Baguio City by his girlfriend or relatives for a year. During their recognition day, their parents and loved ones may come to visit but the soldiers are not to display any emotion, much more a hug.

If they survive this, they have passed their psychological training and are one step closer to being called real men.

“You get trained to be isolated. You need to remember that time so that when you encounter a similar situation you’ll know,” Abe said.

Last February, Abe became one of the chosen few stationed on the Spratlys chain of islands to fortify already existing structures there. In their free time, the men grab their swimming gear and snorkel near the shore.

On my curious walk around the island, I discovered a military bunker sunk knee-deep in white bits of corals teeming with hundreds of hermit crabs scurrying for shade.

Even the hermit crabs know who the enemy is, I thought. On an island like Pag-Asa, there is no real enemy but the sun, the powdery sand and the balmy wind.

PAL nets $72.5M Profit

On 23% revenue jump

July 24, 2011

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) earned $72.5-million profit for its 2010 fiscal year ending March, a turnaround from its $14.4-million loss in 2009.

The airline said revenues rose 23 percent to $1.67 billion, supported by growing passenger and traffic volumes of 12.4 percent and 41.8 percent, respectively.

“Increases in passenger yields also complemented the growth in traffic volume,” the airline added. Passenger traffic increased 12.4 percent while cargo expanded 41.8 percent during the period.

The airline was however cautious of its continuing profitability due to volatile factors like cost of fuel affecting the industry.

About 40 percent of PAL’s expenses go to fuel. PAL noted that total expenses for the year totaled $1.61 billion, up 19 percent from last year’s $1.35 billion.

Jet fuel expenses, which continues to be the airline’s biggest spending item, rose by $142 million or 29.9 percent. During the 12-month period from April 2010 to March 2011, jet fuel prices averaged $102.89 a barrel compared to $86.94 the year before.

Omni plane Down

Kills Two

Video courtesy of GMANews.TV

July 22, 2011

A Cessna plane RPC-8839 owned by Omni Aviation crashed before 6PM killing a Malaysian pilot and a Filipino co-pilot in Sta. Maria, Magalang, Pampanga Friday.

Fatalities were identified as Tian Yu Wong, who piloted the Cessna Plane 152, and Alfred Christian de Leon.

Captain Benhur Gomez, President of Omni Aviation Corp. Flying School said the cause of the crash was equipment error saying "the aircraft malfunctioned while it was in the air.” No further details were given.

CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) Accident Investigators said that there was no distress call received by Omni Aviation or Clarks Tower says Capt. Amado Soliman, OIC of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) who together with Mike Apil, a member of the AAIB, were sent to investigate the cause of the crash.

Initial investigation showed that the plane was in good flying condition when it departed from Omni's general aviation runway at 4:53 p.m. to execute some aerial maneuvers.

Eyewitnesses reported that while flying overhead, the airplane’s engine stalled in mid-air before crashing. Other witnesses also disclosed the plane flying at a very low altitude.

Omni Aviation Corporation is a flying school based at the Clark International Airport Complex.

Budget Airlines Take Off

Carriers Bolster Service in Asia's Low-Cost Market, Challenging Segment Leader AirAsia

July 22, 2011


Competition in Asia's budget-airline market is heating up as rival carriers raise more money and launch services to take on Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd., the undisputed heavyweight of low-cost flying in the region.

A decade ago, AirAsia was the upstart, bringing the no-frills airline model to Asia after it succeeded in Europe and the U.S. Although some doubted it would work in Asia, where many residents don't earn enough to fly, AirAsia took off. Now Asia's other carriers are fighting back more aggressively.

Airlines such as the Philippines' Cebu Pacific have raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the past year to expand their fleets, while several of Asia's biggest flagship carriers have announced plans to start low-cost carriers in recent months. Singapore Airlines Ltd., Thai Airways International PCL and Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. have all unveiled intentions to back new budget carriers recently.

Last week, the low-cost Jetstar Airways unit of Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. said it will spend $500 million on its Singapore operations by buying seven additional aircraft by year's end and will add 40 weekly flights by then.

Analysts aren't convinced all the efforts will be successful in a crowded market. Still, the success of AirAsia and Asia's other big low-cost carriers has proven that the budget-airline model can earn money in Asia. This has given AirAsia's rivals more confidence and fueled an aggressive push by the best-funded among them to grab as much of the Asian-Pacific region as they can.


"The demand for air travel will grow further," said Rusdi Kirana, president director of Lion Air, Indonesia's largest airline, which is waiting for delivery of 134 new aircraft. Although new carriers will emerge, "we believe that with our strong presence we will be able to face the competition as we have in our 10 years of operation," he said.

The battle for frequent frugal fliers in Asia—home to more than four billion people and the world's fastest-growing economies—is expected to keep rates low and traffic growth high in the region and possibly decide the leading global airlines of the future. In the five years to 2014, the number of people flying in Asia will rise by 360 million to one billion, according to International Air Transport Association estimates.

While many details of the new budget carriers are still unclear, ANA-backed Peach Aviation is expected to start flights by March 2012, with fares on short-haul international routes targeted at 50% below current prices.

Singapore Airlines' new budget airline is expected to handle medium- and long-haul routes starting sometime over the next year, while Thai Airways is expected to start its low-cost carrier by the second quarter of 2012.

AirAsia says it believes the market is big enough for a few large competitors—but it intends to fight hard to remain on top.

"We opened up a huge lake of demand in Asia. People wanted to travel but couldn't afford it," said AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes. "We estimate that we could have up to 500 planes."

The no-frills-flight model was first attempted in a big way in Asia by AirAsia. Back when it first took off as a budget carrier a decade ago, it had to struggle with regulators who were suspicious of a newcomer and hoping to protect their state-run flagship carriers. Using publicity, politics and a bit of pushiness, Mr. Fernandes has now become a big dog of the Asian skies. AirAsia now has a fleet of 100 planes and earlier this month placed orders for an additional 300.

As flagship carriers target the market with new budget offerings, Mr. Fernandes is fighting them the way he used to be bullied as the up-and-comer. Last year, AirAsia poked fun at low-cost carrier Tiger Airways—which is about 33%-owned by Singapore Airlines—after Tiger announced a spate of flight cancellations by running an advertising campaign saying "If Tigers were meant to fly, they would be born with wings."

Mr. Fernandes criticized Tiger's management as "a bunch of white guys" in one interview, triggering an accusation of racism from Tiger.

Since Singapore Airlines announced plans to launch another budget carrier in May, Mr. Fernandes hasn't been shy about saying in the media and through his Twitter account that the state-owned carrier was making a mistake.

He is also planning stock listings in Thailand and Indonesia to help finance his growing empire, and once his plane order comes through he will have one of the biggest budget fleets in the world. AirAsia also plans to create new hubs in Vietnam and the Philippines, and it has started the airline AirAsia X to focus on longer flights.

But AirAsia isn't the only one building a bigger fleet backed by a big war chest. Cebu Pacific raised more than $600 million last year that it will use to expand its fleet. The company, which had only 200,000 international passengers in 2005, expects to carry three million this year.

"I know I am going to be one of the survivors. I think others will struggle," said Lance Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Pacific. "Low-cost carriers will always grow market share at the expense of traditional carriers," he added.

Other low-cost carriers that might be raising money on the stock market include Lion Air and India's IndiGo and Go airlines, analysts say. IndiGo placed an order for 180 Airbus aircraft at the Paris Air Show late last month, valued at more than $15 billion at list prices.

Indonesia's state-owned carrier, Garuda, ordered 25 new planes at the air show, 10 of which were scheduled to be used by its low-cost arm Citilink.

Some analysts say it will be difficult for any new competitors to catch up with the industry leaders. While those backed by full-service flagship carriers may have easy access to capital and management, their high-end brands and experience can actually end up being a liability in the cut-throat, low-cost carrier business.

"These businesses require very different management styles. Just because you are good at one does not mean you can do the other," said John Rachmat, analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland Asia Securities in Singapore. "The successful budget carriers have already found their own niches and strategies, so it will be very difficult for a newcomer to break in."

"We wouldn't be getting into this if we didn't think it was going to be a profitable venture," said Nicholas Ionides, a Singapore Airlines spokesman. "We see this as a largely untapped new market."

Sri Lanka amends air deal

Grants 5th Freedom from Manila Clark

July 21, 2011

Manila - The Philippines forged a new Air Service Agreement (ASA) with West Asian Country Sri Lanka in a bid to make the air deal financially feasible with airlines.

Under the new deal, flights between Manila and Colombo will be increased to four (4)times a week from the present two (2) using Airbus 330 seat numbers as coefficients. An Airbus 320 aircraft doesn't have the range to fly to Colombo, the Sri Lankan Capital, and vice versa, without technical stops for refueling usually at Bangkok.

“The new agreement is expected make any services that the respective airlines of both countries may plan to operate in the future more viable,” Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said.

There are no direct or connecting flights of airlines between the two countries.

CAB also agreed to remove restrictions on the number of flights to points outside Manila. The Philippine air panel granted Sri Lanka “fifth freedom” rights from points outside Manila to Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

With the new agreement, Sri Lankan airlines will now be able to pick up passengers from points like Manila-Clark, Cebu and Davao for destinations to the Southeast Asian cities mentioned in line with the “open skies” policy implemented by ASEAN throughout the entire Southeast Asian region.

Far and Away!

Flying the Philippines Remotest Airport

July 18, 2011

By Mynardo Macaraig

Agence France-Presse

The island of Kalayaan, which means "Freedom" in the Filipino language, that was created in 1978 mainly to assert the Philippines' claim to the disputed territory in the Spratlys, a chain of islets in the West Philippine Sea. AFP/Kayalaan Municipal office

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – For the few dozen Filipinos living on a remote speck of land in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), each day is a battle against loneliness but also a love affair with nature.

Contact with the outside world is limited and comforts are few for the residents of Kalayaan town, which exists mainly to raise the Philippine flag and fend off the other claimants to the Spratly islands.

“People here just play billiards, ping-pong. We have no markets and no malls. You need a special mindset to stay here,” said Eugenio Bito-onon, 55, mayor of Kalayaan municipality in Palawan. Kalayaan is the Filipino word for freedom.

Bito-onon, who initially went to Kalayaan in 1997 to work as a town planner, said he learned to cope by playing guitar, watching videos and simply walking around the small islands surrounded by the purest blue ocean waters.

“I love the beauty of the place. It is so peaceful,” said the deeply suntanned Bito-onon while on a visit recently back to Puerto Princesa City, the nearest major city in mainland Palawan province.

Kalayaan was created in 1978 mainly to assert the Philippines’ claim to the Spratlys, a group of more than 700 islets, reefs and atolls in the West Philippine Sea, also known as South China Sea, that is believed to sit above vast natural resources.

The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei claim all or part of the Spratlys, part of a broader territorial dispute across the West Philippine Sea.

Most of the other claimants have a presence on some of the other islands in the Spratlys to help boost their positions.

But the Philippines insists Kalayaan — which covers five islands, two sandbars and two reefs — has the only functioning local government of its own in the Spratlys.

Regional tensions in the long-running territorial dispute have flared again in recent months, with the Philippines accusing China of taking increasingly aggressive actions in the Spratlys and nearby waters.

But Bito-onon said the diplomatic tensions barely affected the residents, most of whom live on the 37-hectare island widely known as Thitu, which the Philippines calls Pagasa, or Hope in English.

Mostly this is because of their isolation.

Pagasa is about 450 kilometres (280 miles) northwest of Palawan, roughly 600 kilometers from Vietnam’s coast and more than 900 kilometres from China’s nearest major landmass of Hainan island.

Residents or others travelling to and from Pagasa normally have to hitch a ride on a creaking military supply ship that takes seven days to make the journey, according to Bito-onon.

There is an airstrip in Pagasa but it is made mostly of compacted earth and cannot be used when it rains.

Aside from about 100 Filipino soldiers assigned to the area, the town has about 200 registered voters but only about 60 live in Kalayaan at a time because that is all government provisions can sustain, Bito-onon said.

Aside from a few fishermen and construction workers, most residents are government employees and their families who take turns, each serving for about three months on the islands.

Residents are attracted there by the government-provided jobs and housing, as well as the free provisions of essentials such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, noodles and canned food, according to Bito-onon.

Fish are also plentiful in the sea and wells provide residents with more than enough fresh water.

But Bito-onon said it was not easy to get used to the isolation and lack of amenities — there is no school and no town health worker since the local midwife resigned last year to get married.

“Some people can’t take it. They snap and begin talking to the flies or get drunk all the time. They get into fights while drinking,” he said.

Although several families have raised children in the islands, they have to be sent to live elsewhere once they are old enough for school.

Bito-onon’s wife lives and works in Puerto Princesa. When the couple’s two sons were still children, the family would only spend about a month and half together in Kalayaan.

However the pain of separation for Bito-onon is eased because Kalayaan has an administration “extension office” in Puerto Princesa, which the mayor visits frequently.

The island does have satellite television but the satellite discs are slowly being corroded by the sea spray that has already destroyed their solar power generators.

A mobile phone company has struggled to set up services in Pagasa, but Bito-onon said the signal was inconsistent.

He complained that despite the Philippines being the closest of the claimants, its occupied islands were among the least developed in the Spratlys.

Some other islands have strongly built structures with concrete airfields and one Malaysian-held one even has a hotel for tourists, Bito-onon said.

In his “extension office”, Bito-onon displayed pictures showing Chinese, Malaysian and Vietnamese-occupied islands with marinas where their ships could take refuge.

Bito-onon hopes that someday he can attract tourists and even investors from the fishing industry to Kalayaan.

But first, the national government will have to upgrade and lengthen the airstrip and build a marina where ships can dock.

In the meantime, Bito-onon and other residents are content to continue enjoying their peaceful solitude.

Construction worker Nonelon Balbontin, 34, said life was much better in the Spratlys than in the chaotic, overcrowded and polluted Metro Manila where he used to live.

“It is very beautiful. It has a good climate, I have a job there. We have no problems, no sickness, the food is free, paid for by the government,” he told Agence France-Presse while visiting Puerto Princesa.

Balbontin, who also works on Kalayaan’s salt-making project, said that in his free time, he caught more than enough fish, both for his family and for sale.

He also plays basketball with the military men assigned at the Spratlys who are eager for any recreation.

At night, he likes to roam around the island to spot sea turtles laying their eggs so he can report them to a local environment officer for tagging and protection.

(This article was originally written in 2008, during the author’s visit to Pag-asa. It has remained unpublished until now. The photos are also from that visit.)

5J signs two more operating leases

Enters deal with RBS Aviation

July 17, 2011

Dublin - Aircraft leasing company RBS Aviation Capital said yesterday it had entered an agreement to lease two A320-200s to Cebu Pacific, a low cost airline based in the Philippines.

RBS Aviation Capital granted a six-year sale and leaseback transactions for two brand-new Airbus A320 aircraft ordered by Cebu Pacific scheduled for delivery in March 2012.

The deal will be the 10th on the Cebu Pacific's A320 fleet as it currently operates nine aircraft under operating lease arrangements from other letting companies.

The airline boast a fleet of 10 Airbus A319, 15 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft.

“These two leased A320 aircraft will further increase our fleet size, allowing us to offer lower fares and even more routes, destinations and flights to our guests. It will also enable us to continue expanding aggressively in the Asia-Pacific region, especially as we await delivery of more brand-new Cebu Pacific aircraft,” president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a statement.

The two A320s will be part of CEB’s order for 25 Airbus A320s to be delivered until 2016, and 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft to be delivered from 2017 to 2021.

Cebu Air has pending orders from aircraft manufacturing company Airbus for18 A320s which the airline is set to receive from the second half of this year up to 2014. Last month, it confirmed another order for seven more A320s and 30 Airbus 321neo aircraft worth $3.8 billion announced at the Paris Airshow, with delivery schedule between 2015 and 2021. Source of financing was not disclosed.

RBS Aviation Capital is a member of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group which is owned by the British government and has 100 airline customers and 36 investor customers in 38 countries.It was founded in 2001 when RBS acquired International Aviation Management Group.

“This is our first transaction in the Philippines, and our first lease agreement with Cebu Air. We look forward to new opportunities in the region and developing a key relationship with one of the country’s leading domestic carriers,” RBS Aviation Capital’s CEO Peter Barrett said.

Kalibo's Airline

July 16, 2011

“Asia’s most refreshing airline.” Zest Air’s President and CEO, Alfred M Yao, also owns a drinks company called the Zest-O Corporation. He’s not the first to go from a mass market product to the airline business (Virgin, Kingfisher, etc) nor face the inevitable risks of parallels with a clientele so easily pleased with a sugary beverage.

Philippine carrier Zest Air can trace its origins back to 1995, but the name “Zest Air” was only introduced in late 2008. The airline’s President and CEO, Alfred M Yao, also owns a drinks company called the Zest-O Corporation. The airline’s fleet consists of five A320s, one A319 and three MA-60 turboprops. Two further A320s will join the fleet, one at the end of July and one at the end of August. The airline carried 1.33 million passengers in 2010, and according to the airline hopes to almost double that to around 2.5 million this year. The carrier’s network is based at Manila’s main airport from where it serves 20 domestic destinations this summer. The latest destination to be served is Cagayan de Oro. Daily flights began on 8 July with frequency doubling from 25 September.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 August 2011

The busiest route for Zest Air is to Kalibo with over 60 weekly departures followed by Cebu, which is served with five daily flights. Competition on both of these routes is provided by Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. On the Kalibo route Zest Air offers the most capacity but on the Cebu route it has only a 16% share of capacity, with Cebu Pacific offering twice as many weekly flights.

New international routes start this week to Shanghai and Taipei

According to the airline’s current schedule it will be operating seven international routes by the end of the month, five from Kalibo and two from Cebu. From Kalibo there are flights to Chengdu (China), Pusan (Korea), Seoul Incheon (Korea), Shanghai (China) and Taipei (Taiwan), while from Cebu there are direct flights to Seoul Incheon (Korea) and Shanghai (China). The routes from Kalibo to Chengdu and Taipei, and from Cebu to Shanghai were launched during the last week. The two new routes from Kalibo are charter flights and operate every four days; Chengdu until 24 August and Taipei until 30 October.

Wacky way to beat airline baggage charges

15 July 2011

By Orlando Parfitt

 Rufus Roo

Here's one original way to beat baggage charges at airports, as long as you’re not a fashion victim…

It’s the Rufus Roo, a giant jacket that lets flyers wear a rucksack full of luggage – and skip fees for checking in extra bags.

The overcoat, which has six strengthened pockets and comes in five snazzy colours, apparently holds up to 15kg worth of stuff.

Inventor Andrew Gaule said the wacky product, which costs £29.95 (P2,100), was inspired by rising costs at budget airlines. “They are profiting even more from the charges and the hassle passengers are suffering at the boarding gate,” he said.

Just last month it was reported that Ryanair had upped their summer baggage charges again to £25 per checked-in bag. If you go over the 20kg weight limit or pay on the day, you'll be asked to pay even more.

Easyjet, Flybe and BMI Baby also charge for checking in luggage.

 Rufus Roo

However, every airline lets punters bring at least one bag of hand luggage onboard for free, as well as a jacket or coat – which is where the Rufus Roo comes in.

Richard Ingram, Head of Sales and Marketing for the company, said: “Passengers may not be able to avoid some charges, but an inexpensive and stylish travel coat with larger pockets could prevent last-minute stress, embarrassment and cost when they travel”.

Budget carriers drive int’l air traffic growth

By Paolo G. Montecillo

July 12, 2011

The introduction of new overseas flights by local budget carriers drove the growth in international air traffic in the first quarter of the year, recently released government data showed.

The number of international airline passengers flying into and out of the Philippines in January to March grew by 8.8 percent year on year to 3.83 million, data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) continued to dominate this market segment with 1 million passengers in the first quarter, 10.3 percent higher than year-ago level.

The Lucio Tan-led carrier was the only airline operating in the Philippines with international passengers of over a million in the three-month period.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific was a far second, carrying 504,174 international guests in the period, up by 4.3 percent over 483,182 passengers in the same quarter of 2010.

The country’s three smaller budget carriers, meanwhile, posted the healthiest gains in the period, owing to the aggressive expansion programs implemented since late last year.

Local airlines Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAir) and PAL sister firm Airphil Express flew 35,509 passengers and 38,940 passengers, respectively, in the first quarter. This was up from none last year.

Recognizing the shift in market preference to flying “no-frills” just to save money, PAL has been slowly shifting most of its international traffic within the Asia-Pacific region to the Airphil Express, the group’s budget unit.

SEAir recently introduced international flights from its hub in Clark Freeport, Pampanga, using jets leased from partner and major shareholder Tiger Airways.

Other airlines have criticized the SEAir-Tiger partnership, saying it violates restrictions in the Constitution against foreign groups gaining interests in key industries such as transportation. Despite calls for the partnership to be declared illegal, the CAB has allowed SEAir to continue operating.

Zest Airways, the budget carrier owned by Zest-O juice drink founder Alfredo Yao, meanwhile, more than doubled its international passengers in the period. The airline carried 39,990 passengers in the three-month period, 161 percent higher than last year’s 15,283.

Earlier this year, the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) said the Philippine air travel market would be one of the five fastest-growing areas in the global industry.

Zest Air Adds four International Routes from its hub

Flies Shanghai and Incheon from Cebu Adds Chengdu and Taipei from Kalibo

July 11, 2011

Kalibo - Budget airline Zest Air flies more international points out of Kalibo International Airport as it began yesterday its first inaugural flight out of Taipei, Taiwan and Chengdu, China.

The airline is scheduled to fly the route from kalibo to Taipei, Taiwan, and Chengdu, China once every 5 days.

Zest Air already flies direct to Seoul, Busan, and Shanghai out of its Kalibo hub. It recently add Shanghai and Seoul from its Cebu hub two days ago.

ZestAir chief operating officer Alfredo Yao said the expansion is part of the airline's 10 billion fleet expansion plan this year design to increase capacity and enable it to carry three million passengers this year from last year's figure which was recorded at 1.23 million.

According to ZestAir, it will eventually add frequency to the route after receiving more aircraft on order from European manufacturer Airbus.

The airline expects to have three (2) more A320s before the end of the year, with one arriving in August and another one in November. It recently received a new frame early this month increasing its Airbus fleet to eight which is now being used for China and Taiwan flight.

ZestAir plans to end 2011 with 10 Airbuses in its fleet and with projected revenues of P6 billion. By 2012, the airline plans to add another four aircraft to its fleet, and intends to have as much as 25 Airbus 320 planes by 2015.

Other airlines with international flights out of Kalibo International Airport, either in charter or regular flights, are Philippine Airlines to China and Korea, China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, and Spirit of Manila for Taiwan, and Shanghai Airlines for Shanghai.

Airphil express is scheduled to fly maiden flight from Shanghai to Kalibo by October 2011 replacing PAL and joining other airlines to make international call at the airport.

10 Ways to Make Airport Security Faster

July 9, 2011

By Jessica Hulett

Everyone now knows that a short flight doesn’t mean a short amount of time out of your day. We have learned to tack on an extra hour or two to allow for airport security screening before boarding our flight. Time is valuable to us all, so, this problem definitely needs addressing. Here are 10 ideas that have been suggested, and in some cases,implemented, for making airport security more time efficient.

Low risk travelers. It has been suggested that frequent flyers be pre-screened and allowed a more minimal security check than other passengers. This could greatly minimize the time it took to get passengers through security checkpoints.

Free bag check. There is the sense that people are carrying more baggage onto the planes in order to save the costs of checking their baggage for flights. If passengers could check one bag free for their flight, there might not be as much carry-on baggage to screen.

Shoe scanner. Creating a scanner that would allow a person to keep their shoes on, and walk over the scanner, would eliminate some of the hassle created by passengers needing to remove their shoes and then put them back on again.
Bin conveyor. An automated bin return conveyor system has been developed and is in use in some airports. Every little bit of automation helps, when it comes to saving time.
Prior identity verification. Implementing a system for verifying the identity of individuals whose names are similar to those on the terrorist list prior to their arrival at the airport is another suggestion that is being considered and should not be that difficult to develop.

3-D luggage scanners. These devices which make it easier for personnel to spot explosive materials in baggage have been in installed in some airports already. With less uncertainty, hopefully, the luggage will get passed through quicker.
Slow lanes and fast lanes. Allowing those with minimal carry-ons and who are familiar with the screening routine to go through a separate express lane, has also been suggested as a means of speeding up the process, and making for happier travelers.

Proper staffing. It can be very frustrating for a passenger to wait in long lines to get through the security checkpoint simply because they don’t have the proper amount of staff on duty to man all the checkpoints.
Directional information. Even when there are additional checkpoints open, passengers are not always aware of this. Better directional signage might help alleviate the develop of overly long lines.

Improve airport design. This is not a viable option for many airports, but for those that are rebuilding or renovating, some re-design in the security area could help immensely. San Diego has taken this step in the design for their new terminal building.

Of course, passengers can do their part to make the process move faster also. Simply educating yourself on the requirements and being prepared when you arrive at the airport can make a big difference.Wear shoes that slip on and off, and have your liquids properly packaged and pulled out of your bag before you reach the checkpoint. A little adjustment from both directions could speed up the process significantly.

Gas-short Grumman crashes in Compostella

Pilot Error Again!

July 7, 2011

The Grumman aircraft (Ag-Cat G164A)owned by the Aerowurkz Aerial Spraying Services, with registration no. RP-R 5859, crashed early morning Wednesday at the Isalom banana plantation in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, when its pilot Capt. Luciano Edgil disregarded a flight dispatcher’s warning that his aircraft was low on fuel and can only take an hour’s flight.

The pilot was immediately brought to the hospital for treatment.

The Civil Aviation authority said the aircraft was spraying chemicals over the Isalon banana plantation when the plane lost power due to gas starvation.

Initial investigation revealed that there were two aircraft of the same type but with different engines, with the first aircraft having fuel allocation good for two hours of flying and the other for an hour.

Despite the dispatcher’s warning, Edgil made a pass and utilized the aircraft with limited fuel good for an hours flight which subsequently run out of fuel and crashed. He was not hurt, Melvin Dagon, CAAP Investigator said.

The pilot who had figured several accidents in the past might lose his license because of this accident which was clearly a pilot error, the investigator said.

"Capt Edgil will be asked to report to Capt. Amado Soliman, Aircraft Accidents Unit head, after his confinement in the hospital for personal evaluation of his license." Dagon added.

Aerowurkz Aerial Spraying Services Company engages in aerial spraying activity for crop growers, particularly big banana plantations in Mindanao.

Will Tiger Airways Australia’s grounding impact on Philippine and (planned) Indonesian, Thai operations?

July 6, 2011

Thai Airways’ President Piyasvasti Amranand and Tiger’s President and CEO Tony Davis agreed an MoU for setting up Thai Tiger Airways last August. Hopefully Tiger can eventually shake-off its woes caused by its Australian grounding and continue expanding through joint-venture – the only vehicle for growth in regulated Asian markets.

Thai Airways’ President Piyasvasti Amranand and Tiger’s President and CEO Tony Davis agreed an MoU for setting up Thai Tiger Airways last August. Hopefully, Tiger can eventually shake-off its woes caused by its Australian grounding and continue expanding through joint-ventures – the only vehicle for growth in regulated Asian markets.

Before Tiger Airways Australia’s alarming grounding, the airline group appeared to be following the AirAsia path to regional growth by investing in airlines in other countries. The airline had agreed to purchase a 33% stake in Mandala Airlines (in Indonesia), itself grounded and undergoing “financial restructuring”. In Thailand, Tiger plans to set up a joint venture with Thai Airways called Thai Tiger, in which Tiger Airways would hold 39%. Finally, in the Philippines, Tiger has purchased 32% of SEAIR. At the end of April, Tiger announced that SEAIR would start operating up to five daily domestic jet flights (using Tiger Airways A320s) between Manila and Cebu, followed by three daily flights between Manila and Davao. However, after local airline protests, the plans appear to be on hold as neither of the routes appear on Tiger Airways’ route map or in SEAIR’s schedules.

Generating 45% of Tiger’s revenues but 50% of costs

Tiger Airways began operations from Singapore in September 2004 before launching flights with its Australian subsidiary from Melbourne in November 2007. Both airlines operate 180-seat A320s of which the company currently has 26. In total, Tiger Airways Holdings Limited flew just under six million passengers in its last financial year, at an average load factor of just under 86%.

Figures revealed in Tiger Airways’ recent annual report for the year ending 31 March 2011 show that while the Singapore operation is profitable, the Australian operation is not. While the Australian operation now generates 45% of the company’s revenues, it also accounts for 50% of its costs. Tiger reported that in FY11, Australia represented a “challenging operating environment” with “one-offs” including “natural weather events and AVV (Melbourne Avalon) start-up costs”. It concluded that “network review likely to see more route suspensions” and that the carrier should “focus on profitable flying rather than growth”.

6.5% of domestic market from 18 routes

According to OAG data for June 2011, Tiger Airways Australia is the fourth-largest domestic carrier in Australia (based on weekly seats) with 6.5% of the market, well behind Qantas (42.8%), Virgin Australia (26.0%) and Jetstar (17.1%). Since it uses 180-seat A320s for all its services, Tiger Airways Australia’s share of domestic movements is lower, at just 4.3%, and ranks only fifth as it also falls behind Regional Express (REX).

According to its on-line booking tool, the airline’s network has recently consisted of 18 routes, of which 12 involve Melbourne Tullamarine (MEL) airport, six involve Sydney and two involve Melbourne Avalon.

From To (weekly frequency)
Melbourne (MEL) Adelaide (28), Alice Springs (4), Brisbane (21), Cairns (6), Canberra (7), Gold Coast (13), Hobart (7), Mackay (4), Perth (13), Rockhampton (3), Sunshine Coast (6), Sydney (56)
Melbourne Avalon (AVV) Perth (6), Sydney (7)
Sydney (SYD) Adelaide (7), Brisbane (14), Gold Coast (14), Melbourne (56), Melbourne Avalon (7), Sunshine Coast (6)
Source: Tiger Airways on-line booking tool for travel w/c 11 July 2011.
Bold routes are those that appear twice, once from each end of route.

It was only last November that Tiger started flying from Avalon Airport, a secondary airport for Melbourne, initially to seven destinations. Three (Alice Springs, Mackay and Rockhampton) were dropped within weeks of starting (although, in effect, they merely returned to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport), while Adelaide, Brisbane and Gold Coast services were axed at the beginning of June, leaving just Perth and Sydney services from Avalon at the present time.

With eight daily flights between Sydney and Melbourne (Australia’s biggest domestic route with almost eight million passengers in 2010), this one route now accounts for 25% of Tiger Australia’s entire network capacity.

Tiger Airways Holdings Limited has responded to the crisis (which saw Tiger Airways’ shares fall, as Qantas and Virgin Blue saw their share price rise) by appointing the Divisional Vice-President of Cabin Crew Operations at Singapore Airlines, Chin Yau Seng, to the position of Executive Director. Remember, Singapore Airlines, is the single biggest investor in Tiger Airways Holdings Limited, and does not want to see its hard-earned and legendary reputation tarnished in any way by events unfolding in Australia.

Where we usually fly (in Australia) - Tiger Airways

GMA used to own PNP chopper

Sold as Brand new

July 6, 2011

By Christina Mendez

Sen. Panfilo Lacson implicated yesterday former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Juan Miguel Arroyo in the anomalous purchase of three helicopters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009.

The senator said he obtained documents indicating that the Arroyos were the former owners of the helicopters “forcibly” sold and priced as brand-new to the PNP for P105 million.

“The First Couple were so powerful at that time that ramming the used helicopters down the throat of the police was easy and effortless,” Lacson said.

Lacson said the couple and other officials who may be involved can be made liable for plunder.

“And since the proceeds could exceed the P50-million threshold in a series of acts, those liable are candidate for a plunder case under our existing laws,” he said.

Bolstering Lacson’s claims, an independent source told The STAR that one of the choppers had logged 500 flying hours in 2008 alone or a year before the supposed purchase.

“If it was brand new (in 2009) why would its batteries conk out barely a year while the PNP was using it?” the source said.

The PNP source, however, refused to say who were the supposed first owners of the chopper before it was passed off as brand new to the police force. “The matter is still under investigation,” the source said.

The PNP is reportedly trying to negotiate with the supplier to replace the aircraft with brand new ones before Lacson made the anomaly public.

“The PNP was shortchanged, it seems,” the source added, but officials were mum on the alleged hand of the Arroyos in the anomalous purchase.

Sources revealed that the supposed PNP procurement came before a certain group tried to sell a secondhand Bolkow helicopter to the PNP, but the leadership turned it down since it was below procurement standards.

In a statement, Lacson revealed that initial findings would indicate that the previous and original owners of the pre-owned – yet sold as brand-new – light police operational helicopters are the Arroyos.

“While it’s bad enough that the two units were overpriced and therefore grossly disadvantageous to the government, passing them off as brand-new smacks of brazen deceit and utmost bad faith,” the former police chief added.

Lacson had initiated an investigation into alleged misrepresentations in the P105-million purchase of light operational helicopters by the PNP’s elite Special Action Force (SAF).

Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III and Lacson have filed Senate Resolution 518 to take a closer look at the acquisition of the helicopters from Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA).

On July 9, 2009, the PNP Negotiation Committee recommended the awarding of the contract to MAPTRA for one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters.

But it was later learned that MAPTRA had been engaged in the business only in June 2009. Also, it was learned the supposedly new choppers were “pre-owned” as far back as March 2004.

On the other hand, Lacson said that while the PNP officials involved in the deal were complicit partners, they are the least to blame in this anomalous transaction.

Lacson is said to be keen on pinning down the Arroyo couple and a former Cabinet member who lorded over the police force during the past administration in the helicopter procurement anomaly.

Philippines to lease modern jets, watercraft from US

By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

July 05, 2011

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said yesterday the Philippines is working on a lease agreement for modern planes and naval ships with the United States within the year to improve the country’s ability to guard its territory.

“We’re looking at modern equipment that are not excess defense articles. The equipment are there but there’s nothing final yet,” Gazmin told reporters in Malacañang after he attended the oath taking of Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II and the signing of the memorandum of agreement between the Philippine government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army.

Gazmin said Washington gave assurance that it would study the Philippine proposal and see what equipment could be available for Manila.

“They are trying to see the available ones that we can operate because when you talk of new equipment, you talk of operational cost, with the very limited budget that we have, we will see what we can afford,” Gazmin said.

The defense chief said funds for the lease of military planes and ships would come from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization funds.

He said his department would seek additional budget depending on the country’s needs.

“We want long-range aircraft patrols as well as watercraft, including those with high-caliber weapons to guard our territory,” Gazmin said.

Recently, the US assured the Philippines that it was ready to help the country “defend itself” from territorial incursions amid reports of Chinese intrusions into the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario had announced the proposal to lease military equipment after his visit to Washington to meet with American officials.

The AFP had submitted a list of equipment needed to boost the country’s maritime border patrol capabilities.

PNP Ravens in Hot Air

Senate Probes helicopter procurement

July 5, 2011

By Cecille Suerte Felipe

Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged yesterday the Philippine National Police (PNP) to cooperate in the investigation of police procurement of P105-million worth of supposed brand new light helicopters that turned out to be secondhand aircraft.

“I would like to ask the PNP for its cooperation in connection with the Senate inquiry in the coming days,” said Lacson during his speech at the regular flag raising ceremony of the PNP in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Lacson and Sen. Teofisto Guingona III pressed for an investigation on the procurement since the supplier of the helicopters, Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA), made it appear – with the knowledge of the PNP – that the choppers delivered were new.

Lacson said the plan was for the purchase of three light helicopters for the PNP-Special Action Force’s Air Unit. The procurement was planned on May 8, 2009 and the deal awarded on July 9, 2009.

He said that then PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa approved the supply contract worth P104.985 million.

The PNP purchased one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo welcomed the Senate inquiry, saying the rumors about the irregularities in the procurement of the helicopters have been persistent.

Robredo said the National Police Commission (Napolcom) is currently investigating the controversy and the department would cooperate with the Senate probe.

Robredo said the procurement was made by some police officials who have retired from the service and prior to the term of current PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo.

“Even if they (police officials) are retired, it doesn’t mean they will not face the consequences,” said Robredo.

Lacson said a brand new helicopter could cost only about P16 million to P17 million. He said two of the three helicopters were not new and no enhancement was made to them, like setting up of infrared.

Lacson said more information would be uncovered during the Senate inquiry.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. said the police force is ready to cooperate in the investigation.

Air Force to buy new six trainer jets

For F-16 or F-18 MRF aircraft

July 3, 2011

The Philippine Air Force will have new six trainer jet fighters for interdiction missions against intruders into Philippine waters and air space, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Friday at the Air Force’s 64th anniversary celebrations.

The marching orders to acquire immediately new trainers came from President Benigno Aquino after Russian made Chinese SU-27 intruded into Philippine Airspace and harassed two PAF aircraft that were conducting reconnaissance patrol and another oil exploration team at least nine times off Palawan region.

A team from the Philippine Air Force recommended an initial six multi-role planes to be acquired within the term of President Benigno Aquino III says Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. The PAF will use it as advanced lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT).

He said the Air Force was looking at either Korea’s TA-50 Golden Eagle or Italy’s M-346, to be bidded out next year.

The TA-50 is a joint venture program of Korea Aerospace Industrie (KAI) and Lockheed Martin of the United States, with a price tag of USD $25 million, close to the F-16C/D variants valued at USD $27 million from US Air Force stocks. A brand new F-16 cost USD $55 million. The TA-50 Golden Eagle design was largely derived from the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, being similar on the use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons system.

Meanwhile, the Italian made Alenia Aermacchi M-346 of the Finmeccanica Group is a twin engine, two seat aircraft, a deriva­tive of the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130. It has a price tag of USD$20 million.

The Aermacchi M-346 has a “Fly Away” price tag of about USD $15 million per plane, while the TA-50 settles at USD $21 million based on Singapore and Indonesia offer.

The T-50 and M-346 are considered to be among the best advanced trainer jets on the global market. Both Singapore and the UAE bought the M-346 for their training needs while Indonesia opted for the T-50.

The trainer aircraft is intended to ensure pilots to be properly trained to fly new generation fighters like the F-16 or F-18.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario met with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week to discuss military deals with US surplus hardware which include a fighter aircraft affordable to the Philippines.

Industry insider at the Department of Defense quoted the aircraft as either F-16 or F-18 which Del Rosario gave US defense officials depending upon the award of the trainer jets next year. The PAF is expected to have its first Multi Role Fighter (MRF) ready by 2016.