Clark Loses Qatar Airways

Gains Slots in Manila

31 May 2015

Clark International Airport will lose Qatar Airways as the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) announced Friday that it has expanded Air Service Agreement (ASA) with Qatar allowing fourteen (14) flights per week to Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The revised Memorandum (MOU) signed on May 28 in Doha, granted increase of 6 more flights per week between Manila and Doha. The parties also agreed to accommodate unlimited flights between Doha and other international airports in the Philippines covering Clark, Cebu and Davao, except Manila.

Previous ASA awarded in 2009 allows 8 flights to Manila and 14 flights per week to Clark and Cebu.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said that 14 flights to NAIA is already awarded to Qatar Airways while 4 new slots will be awarded to Cebu Pacific (CEB) which will start flight services between Manila and Doha on June 5, 2015. Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific will enjoy 7 slots each per week.

Philippine Airlines is the sole oppositor to the expansion as Cebu Pacific wanted more flights to Doha joining Qatar Airways bid. PAL said existing entitlements to Qatar was already enough considering the number of Overseas Filipinos in Qatar currently about 250,000.

Qatar Airways will reflect flights from Clark to Manila beginning on its winter schedule. 

Mitsubishi Wins Bid For Panglao Airport Project

28 May 2015

Japan-based Mitsubishi Corporation in a joint venture with Chiyoda Corp. has won a 7.2 billion contract from the government of the Philippines to build Panglao Airport in Bohol. The New airport would replace Tagbilaran Airport as Bohol’s main gateway.

The airport construction, which involves the concrete pavement of a 2,000-meter international standard runway and erection of 1.7 million capacity passenger terminal building, will begin next month and is expected to be completed within 30 months or by December of 2017.

The new terminal building is expected to be 10 times bigger than that of Tagbilaran Airport, with a floor area of around 8,800 square meters.

Funding for the airport are mostly coming from Official Development Assistance (ODA) STEP laon from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), where according to the loan grant only Japanese companies are allowed to bid. ODA loan is worth 10.8 billion yen (4.63 billion). The rest (2.6 billion) are shouldered by the Philippine government (GOP).

Tagbilaran Airport is the 11th busiest airport in the country in 2014 and served more than 800,000 passengers in 2014.

Airport masterplan can be found here.

US In Talks For P3 Orion Transfer To PAF

26 May 2015

The Philippines is scheduled to receive a pair of surveillance aircraft through Foreign Military Assistance (FMA) as the country seeks “stronger commitment” from the United States to help it asserts its sovereignty over disputed areas of the South China Sea and patrol its territory.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he would meet U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday in Hawaii to discuss the terms of the offer.

“I will ask about the extent of the assistance they will give us, what they can do to help us because right now we are being oppressed,” Gazmin said in a press briefing Monday.

A 5.9 billion pesos ($133 million) contract for a pair of Long Range Patrol Aircraft has been shelved by Defense Department (DND) last year due to failure of bidding.

Four US Air Force P3-Orion surveillance planes are currently stationed at Clark Air Base in Pampanga together with a pair of P-8A Poseidon advance surveillance aircraft that was recently asked by the Chinese Navy to stay away from its man made islands as Beijing tries to enforce military exclusion zone in the area.

China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew over its territory west of the Philippines.

“We feel concerned about what is happening in the West Philippine Sea. Freedom of navigation, freedom of flight is disrupted so that even U.S. aircraft flying at the international territory are challenged.” says Gazmin.

Gazmin said the acquisition of these aircraft is very urgent considering the present condition of the times.

The Philippines does not recognize exclusion zones made by the Chinese and its surveillance aircraft was recently warned by flares to stay away in the area.

Gazmin would also be discussing military assistance for naval ships and air search radar systems in Honolulu before heading to Japan next week to join President Benigno Aquino on a three-day visit to Tokyo to discuss the transfer of additional Japanese military equipment to the Philippines to boost its maritime security.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has agreed in July last year to provide the Philippines with 10 new coast guard patrol ships as part of Japan's official development assistance.

Japan is currently in closed-door talks with the Philippines to supply it with new 100-meter-long Hida class patrol vessels.

Court Lets Skyjet Fly

Amidst Safety Violations

25 May 2015

The Regional Trial Court of Pasay City has cut short the regulatory authority of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for 20 days after it granted temporary restraining order forbidding the agency to ground Magnum Air, better known as Skyjet.

And that means flight safety is to be determined by the courts as it found the May 18 suspension Order "premature" without prior investigation and examination of the aircraft.

This is the first time in Philippine aviation history that an airline operator questioned the legality of a suspension order from Civil Aviation Authority concerning safety issues.

Skyjet has been found by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to be deficient in eight areas of safety regulations provided under Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR) ranging from flight data monitoring, quality control, airworthiness, and maintenance control.

EASA inspected Skyjet's compliance from April 16-24, 2015 as they examined CAA's safety oversight of Philippine carriers.

In the complaint by Skyjet, CAAAP issued a suspension order on May 15 on the basis of intensive investigation conducted by the agency but it cannot present the basis of its investigation to the airline concerned and that its suspension was premature and without basis.

Director General William Hotchkiss III maintained that Skyjet was already notified of their shortcomings last year but failed to rectify the issue and it took EASA audit to blow them out in the open which resulted to the suspension of their Airline Operators Certificate (AOC).

Magnum Air President Dino Reyes Chua stated that the airlines undue grounding by CAAP has caused them irreparable injury and damage by stranding 2,600 affected passengers and lost business opportunity to the tune of 20 million pesos.

Skyjet operates a pair of BAE146-100 planes and D328 for flights to Basco, Caticlan, and Busuanga.

Massive airline complaints is validating the EASA and CAAP findings. Horror stories  can be read here

Airbus Supplier Expands Clark Operations

24 May 2015
Airbus interior component suppliers Jamco Philippines, Inc. (JPI) and Show Aircraft Industry Philippines, Inc. (SAIPI) are pouring in $2.385 million to expand business operations in Clark.

Jamco supplies Airbus seats integrated with Panasonic IFE for its newest A350 aircraft currently in Manila.

The additional funds are intended however for a new facility to produce floor panels for Boeing 787 planes at the Philexcel Business Park inside the Clark Freeport Zone.

Super Constellation Finds Home

24 May 2015

Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, Queensland, Australia will be the new home for the Super Constellation, N4247K, as it prepares transport to the land down under.

Qantas won the auction for the said aircraft held by the Manila International Airport Authority in September 2014. The aircraft, which has been grounded in Manila for 25 years, had been used by World Fish and Agriculture Inc to transport fish cargo from Palawan to Manila. Prior to that it had been previously operated by the United States Air Force.

Aircraft recovery was undertaken by Qantas Airways Engineering Aircraft Recovery Team for transport to its new home.

Qantas Founders Museum CEO Tony Martin said the Museum plans to transport Super Constellation by cargo ship to Australia and by road to Longreach where it will be refurbished and displayed as part of the museum’s aircraft collection.

A350 in MNL

Writing on the Wall

The first Airbus A350-900 has arrived in Manila 12 noon for Sales pitch to flag carrier Philippine Airlines.  Orders TBA.
  © Janee Villegas

PAL Flies Auckland

20 May 2015

Adds Cairns to its route network

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced that it will begin flights four times a week to New Zealand in December 1, 2015 via Cairns in Australia after the Philippines and Australia expanded its Air Services Agreement last month.

“Our new service allows PAL to cater to the travel needs of business and leisure travellers to Cairns and Auckland by offering direct services from Manila ” PAL President and Chief Operating Officer, Jaime J. Bautista said.

The airline currently flies to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin.

“It will be our fifth destination in Australia” says Bautista.

PAL said Cairns stopover has fifth freedom traffic rights to Auckland. This sector will be serviced by Airbus A320s. Transit time in Cairns is one hour.

PR218/219 has the following schedules:
PR 218 MNL-CNS ETD 2345H ETA 0800H M-W-TH-SU
PR 219 CNS-MNL ETD 2330H ETA 0330H M-T-TH-F


The airline is also planning to grow its Darwin hub by flying back to Perth. 

A350 Lands In MNL Tomorrow

3 Years Late

19 May 2015

The Airbus A350 is finally arriving in Manila tomorrow morning for the first time after a three year delay (see our story here).

The A350-900 aircraft (F-WWCF, CN 002), is taking a 3rd Asian flight demonstration and promotions tour to Taiwan and the Philippines. It has since flown to Seoul (GMP), Tokyo (HND), Hanoi (HAN), Bangkok (BKK) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL).

The aircraft (MSN2) is one of Airbus’ fleet of five test A350-900 aircraft and one of two with a fully functional cabin (42 business class and 223 economy class seats). These A350 flights will be operated by Airbus flight crews.

The A350 XWB has 780 orders from 45 customers worldwide.

The aircraft has since went to home airports of airlines with orders of that type.

Skyjet Barred From Flying Philippine Airspace

Joins SEAIR International as unfit to fly!

19 May 2015

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has suspended the Air Operator Certificates (AOC) of both SEAIR International Inc. and leisure airline MAGNUM AIR (Skyjet) Inc. Monday May 18 due to some safety concerns which the European Union Assessment Team found after reviewing airline's compliance with safety regulations last month.

Recently, SEAIR was denied entry into South Korea for dubious safety compliance.

Seair mounts flights to and from Manila to Basco, Caticlan and Tablas using D328 aircraft, while Magnum Air (Skyjet) operates to and from Manila to Basco and Busuanga using a pair of BAE 146 jets.

Fokker 27 Fails At Legaspi Airport

13 May 2015

The newest Fokker F-17 (10669) of the Philippine Air Force crash landed in Legaspi Airport Monday morning causing diversions of all flights to the airport. None of the six passengers and crew were hurt.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the F-27 landed safely at the airport but its front landing gear (shown on the lower part of this photo) collapsed around 10:11 a.m. when it made contact to the runway. The aircraft came from Mactan Airbase in Cebu.

Brand New Airport, Where's the Flights?

Lal-lo's Ghost Haunts its Airport

5 May 2015

“They say that we’re crazy for inaugurating an airport without planes,” Carlos Fabra, a local politician, told reporters about Spain’s Castell√≥n Airport when it opened in 2011 without having signed a single commercial airline operator. “They don’t understand anything,” he said. “[T]his is an airport for people.”

In a similar fashion Juan Ponce Enrile lobbied for the opening of Lallo airport despite Tuguegarao airport merely two hours away.

Four years later, Fabra is in prison for tax fraud, and Enrile also suffers the same fate for pork barrel scam.

But there’s better news for Lallo airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has issued it a Limited Aerodrome Registration on October 9, 2014 with the most unfamiliar name: Cagayan North International Airport, when Lal-lo could end just fine.

Whatever the name, the airport operated by Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport created under the auspices of Senator Enrile under RA 7922 has six months to look for airlines to fly aircraft that will operate at the airport even with up to 29-seater capacity plane. The months has passed and no airline so far.

This time, CEZA become ambitious talking to big airlines in the country to fly Lal-lo even once for posterity sake. The last word from the airport authority is still waiting for concessionaire aircraft to use the airport as they are in the process of talking to Cebu Pacific (CEB), Philippine Airlines (PAL), and other airlines. The talks could be ad infinitum. Meanwhile, Boracay airport has plenty of airlines on cue waiting for the airport to say you're welcome.

CEZA spokesperson Charlotte Collado is upbeat about it. Well it happens to be her job.

“Instead of taking connecting flights, for example, going to Cebu or to any part of the South, they will only have to take a direct flight from here to there,” Collado said.

She is talking of course about Tuguegarao Airport where flights are bound only to Manila and vice versa, never to other parts of the country.

But for an airport without airlines is asking the moon when it could otherwise settle for a moon cake. In the meantime, we pay for the politicians folly of building a brand new ghost airport. At least they are not alone. A ghostly neighbor happens to be close down south. And it also has an international name appended to it.

Like its Spanish counterpart, it is also enjoying tourism boom. Airbus could be better mode of transport, unfortunately they settled for just only the bus to bring them in and out of the airport.

From Sea To Shining Sea

Making difference in flight, Air Juan Connects Philippine Islands in the strictest sense of the word flying passengers direct from Manila Yatch club waters to Coron and other secluded beaches in Palawan. They are seen in Boracay too! The specialized airline company operates a pair of this aircraft under the stewardship of John Goulet, Air Juan's Director for Seaplane Operations.

US Funds Surveilance Radar

3 May 2015

The United States of America has provided the Philippines $20 million for the installation of its National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) powered by Surveillance radar from Israel.

Massachusetts-based company Raytheon had been awarded a contract to design and construct a National Coast Watch Center by the Philippine government last July 2014.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg attended the inauguration of the NCWC last Tuesday, April 27.

“The center will provide critical information fusion and 24-hour operations to support enhanced awareness of the Philippines’ maritime domain. Future incremental improvements are planned to fully realize the potential of the center,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said.

The maritime and aerial data is connected to the US military servers in Honululu, Guam and Okinawa.

The construction of the National Coast Watch Center is Raytheon’s first border security-related contract in Southeast Asia. The radar installation will be completed before July 31, 2015.

The completion of the project would enable the Philippines to tremendously improved its surveillance operations for security threats by tying together more than a dozen radar stations and sensors, as well as on board ship radrs of the Coast Guard, and to provide a more comprehensive picture of ships and vessels operating in or near Philippine waters.

“Maritime domain awareness is crucial for the Philippines as it increases its abilities to thwart smuggling, illegal fishing, other criminal activities as well as improving defense capacity,” the US Embassy noted.

Australia Expands Seats to 9,300

2 May 2015

Left Out Fifth Freedom Options

The Australian government has approved more seats to Sydney and Melbourne at the request of the Philippines after both countries expanded their air service agreement Wednesday in Canberra.

The expanded bilateral benefits low cost carrier Cebu Pacific as its requested seats for Sydney and Melbourne was granted by Australian regulators amidst 10% growth in passenger traffic to the land down under.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the seat entitlements was increased to 9,300 a week from the existing 6,000 seats. Meanwhile, there is no cap to other international gateway other than Brisbane and Perth.

Arcilla said the Philippines was seeking for more seats but Australia granted only the seats requested by Cebu Pacific saying that Philippine Airlines was not utilizing its current entitlements. He however stressed that new seats is more than enough at the moment.

“The granted seats will cover our requirements in the next couple of years.” says Arcilla.

Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said Friday that the budget airline would apply for the necessary permits to fly to Melbourne, its second route in Australia next to Sydney, after the government secured additional capacity for its behalf.

Meanwhile, the fabled fifth freedom option from Sydney to Auckland requested by PAL remains tricky as the agreement calls for third country code sharing which requires the flag carrier to partner with Australian Airlines or New Zealand Airlines to avail of the benefits.

“The two countries also agreed to allow third country code sharing, which will enable designated airlines of the Philippines or Australia to operate services jointly with an airline of a third country, to, from or via the other country and thus improve market distribution,” Arcilla added.

Arcilla did not elaborate on the nature of the fifth freedom issues and said it was not the agency’s practice to release details of negotiations given the sensitive and complicated nature of the talks.

The Sydney-Auckland market remains one of the most competitive fifth freedom market in the world with seven airlines operating on that sector.