Local carriers get more entitlement to fly overseas

 Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan listed as destinations

By Kathleen A. Martin

December 25, 2011

ENTITLEMENTS for flights to three neighboring countries have been granted to local carriers by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), an official said.

“We have granted entitlements to Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan [following] a board meeting last week,” CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said.

For Vietnam, the CAB granted Cebu Pacific 650 seats per week on the Manila to Ho Chi Minh route and 1,260 seats per week for Manila-Hanoi flights.

Two other local carriers, Zest Airways, Inc. (ZestAir) and Airphil Express, were granted 1,045 seats per week each, which they can utilize on Manila-to-Hanoi or Cebu-to-Hanoi routes.

“The entitlements for Vietnam were from the [earlier concluded] air talks and from unutilized entitlements,” Mr. Arcilla said.

The Philippines successfully concluded air talks with Vietnam last September, during which entitlements between both countries were increased to 2,650 seats per week on the Manila-to-Ho Chi Minh route from the current 2,000.

Vietnamese carriers were also granted unlimited rights to all points in the Philippines except Manila.

Mr. Arcilla said that aside from seats to Vietnam, the CAB has also granted entitlements to Cambodia and Japan as requested by various carriers.

Cebu Pacific was granted five flights a week on the Manila-to-Cambodia route, while ZestAir was granted two flights per week. Airphil Express and AirAsia Philippines, Inc. were both granted seven flights per week each on the Clark, Pampanga-to-Cambodia route.

AirAsia Philippines, the local subsidiary of Southeast Asian budget carrier AirAsia Bhd, has also been granted six flights per week that it can utilize either on the Clark, Pampanga-to-Osaka, Japan or Clark, Pampanga-to-Nagoya, Japan routes.

“These entitlements [to Cambodia and Japan] were requested by the airlines and are not from recent air talks,” Mr. Arcilla said.

The CAB recently granted Cebu Pacific, ZestAir, and Airphil Express entitlements for the Manila-to-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia route.

Since these were limited to 2,520 seats per week, South East Asian Airlines, Inc. was not granted any seats from its petitioned 2,520, Mr. Arcilla said.

The CAB fully granted the request of Cebu Pacific (720 seats per week) and Airphil Express (1,260 seats per week), but only gave ZestAir 540 seats out of its requested 900.

In October, the regulator granted entitlements to AirAsia Philippines (1,260 seats per week) and to Seair (2,520 seats per week) on the Clark-to-Kuala Lumpur route.

Seair was also granted 1,260 seats per week on the Clark-to-Kota Kinabalu route, and 540 seats per week each for the following: Clark to Kuching, Clark to Penang, and Clark to Langkawi.

Executive Order (EO) 29, signed by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III on March 14, authorized the CAB and Philippine negotiators to “pursue more aggressively the international civil aviation liberalization policy.”

The “pocket-open skies” policy declared in the EO aims to boost tourism growth, decrease airfare and generate jobs and revenues at the country’s secondary gateways. Since June, the country has granted unlimited air rights to carriers from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam to all points in the country except for Manila.

In exchange for the unlimited traffic rights given to foreign carriers, the Philippines has been granted additional seats or flight entitlements to certain routes, such as 2,520 additional seats per week on the Manila-Kuala Lumpur route; two additional flights a week on the Manila-Colombo, Sri Lanka route; 450 additional seats per week between Manila and Papua New Guinea; and 650 additional seats on the Manila-Ho Chi Minh route.

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