Tuesday, 6 November 2007

RP becoming Asia’s flight-training capital, says aviation-school exec

Original report at The Business Mirror

CLARK, Pampanga—Foreign and local flight students are coming in droves while flight-training schools are sprouting everywhere just like nursing schools.

If the trend continues, the Philippines could become Asia’s flight-training capital in the next few years, an aviation-school operator said Sunday.

Capt. Ben Hur Gomez, president of Omni Aviation Corp., considered as the country’s premier aviation school, said foreign flight students are steadily streaming in even as the number of registered flight-training schools across the country have increased, Air Transportation Office records show.

“Right now, there are about 400 Indian flight students enrolled at different flight schools in the country today,” Gomez, a former Boeing 747 pilot, said.

“Many more of them are coming along with other nationalities from Asia and Europe, but our local aviation schools cannot accommodate all of them just yet,” he said.

“This only shows that our country is the preferred aviation-learning haven for many nationalities and we should grab the opportunity and maintain the educational quality as this can provide thousands of jobs for our countrymen,” added Gomez. “Our government should give its full support by protecting the interests of flying schools.”

A certain aviation firm in India alone is reportedly asking Omni Aviation to gradually accommodate a hundred flight students per year, but Gomez said his office had to beg off to just half the number so as to give room to other aspiring local pilots.

Aside from Air Taxi Tours to Mt. Pinatubo, Omni offers the most complete regimen in aviation courses, namely, Private Pilot Ground/Flight Course, Commercial Pilot Ground/Flight Course, Instrument Flying Ground/Flight Course and Flight Instructor’s Course.

Omni has recently acquired a twin-engine trainer plane and would soon be offering a multiengine course as well. It is also planning to add two more Cessna trainer planes to its fleet of eight in the next few months. Omni is opening a flight-training branch in Lingayen, Pangasinan, shortly Gomez said.

Rounding out the other flight schools in Luzon are Clark Aviation, which is using an Airbus 320 flight simulator; Fliteline Aviation Corp., and Yokota Aviation School also in Bulacan.

The Air Transportation Office (ATO) also reported that the Visayas has now six flight schools.

These are Adventure Flight Education and Sports Inc., Aviation Training One International Inc., Aviatours Fly’N, Cheynair Aviation Flying School, Flight Dynamics School of Aeronautics and Indiana Aerospace University. These are all located in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu.

Mindanao has only one at present in Sasa, Davao City—the Mindanao Aeroflight Training Center Inc.

The National Capital Region hosts the biggest number of flight schools at 17, which raises the number of this latest phenomenon in the aviation industry to 28, the ATO said.

These are Ace Pilots Aviation Academy, Aeroflite Aviation Corp. Flying School, Airlink International Aviation School, Airworks Aviation Co., Axle Air Aviation School, Delta Air Aviation School Inc., Flight and Simulator Training Inc., Flight School International Inc., Flying Medical Samaritans, Masters Flying School, National Aviation Specialist Academy Int’l, Orient Aviation Corp., Pacific Airways Multiversity Flying Center Phil. State College of Aeronautics, Philippine Airlines Learning Center, Phil. National Police Air Group Training and World Aviation Flying School.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, bases of three fast-growing airlines, namely, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, are fueling this growth. The said countries are also believed to be the primary destination of Filipino aviation contract workers, Gomez said.

There are currently 700 commercial pilots in the country, 450 of whom are with the country’s flag carrier, PAL. Some 75 PAL pilots have left for foreign employment since 2003.

Based on the paper entitled “The Air Transport Industry,” China alone will need some 10,000 pilots in the next 20 years and India will need 4,000 in the next five years.

The paper says growth period until 2023 will require 23,000 pilots, of which 6,000 will be in the Asia-Pacific region. At present Singapore has a pending job order for 50 pilots at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

An Airbus Global Market Forecast pointed out in its 2004 study that passenger traffic will grow by 5 percent per annum until 2023 and this will require additional 16,601 passenger aircraft.

For aircraft mechanics, Singapore needs 767 senior mechanics and additional 50 junior aircraft mechanics, while Hong Kong and Qatar are both open with no specific number of requirements. Saudi Arabia needs 73.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Chamber asks Senate to ratify JPEPA

Original report at The Manila Times

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) got a boost Sunday when the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked the Senate to ratify it.

The chamber, which has 98 chapters and 30,000 members nationwide, passed a resolution at the conclusion of the 33rd Philippine Business Conference held in Manila last week asking the Senate to approve the pact.

In a statement released Sunday, chamber Chairman Donald Dee said, “With the overwhelming support of businessmen from all over the country for the economic treaty, we hope the senators would take into account their views when they vote on the ratification when they reconvene next month.” Dee is also the country’s special envoy on trade negotiation.

For his part, Sen. Richard Gordon also made public his support for the JPEPA as he underscored the prospect in investments and opportunities that the treaty will provide for the country.

Gordon cited the importance of a bilateral agreement in helping the country move forward toward attaining progress and growth.

But Gordon also called for some amendments in the treaty so that it will serve the best interests of the Filipino people.

Earlier, during the Kapihan sa Senado, Sen. Edgardo Angara also voiced his support for the JPEPA, saying that what is important is for us to approve the treaty now and discuss about possible refinements later.

Legal experts from the government have assured the public that there is nothing in the treaty that would violate provisions of the Constitution and existing Philippine laws.

They said the treaty also does not prevent the Congress from exercising its plenary legislative power to pass laws that would run counter to any provisions of the JPEPA.

Members of the Philippines Senate are expected to take a vote when it reconvenes next month. An affirmative vote by 16 senators is needed for the treaty to be enforced.

Practically every business organization with head offices in Metro Manila have concluded that the country would stand to lose the golden opportunity for growth if the Senate rejects the treaty.

They projected that with similar treaties already forged between Japan and the country’s main competitors in Southeast Asia, a rejection would penalize Philippine exports to Japan because they would be slapped with higher import duties unlike similar goods from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand that will enjoy zero or near-zero import duties.

The chamber of commerce, along with the major business groups in the country, had signed a joint resolution asking the Senate to ratify the agreement.

Aside from Dee, those who signed the joint resolution were Samie Lim, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation; the lawyer Miguel B. Varela, chairman of Employers Confederation of the Philippines; Ambassador Albert F. del Rosario, president of Management Association of the Philippines; Ambassador Francis Chua, president emeritus of Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Foundation; Alberto A. Lim, executive director of the Makati Business Club; Jesus Arranza, president of the Federation of Philippine Industries; and Elizabeth H. Lee, president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc.

Among the sectoral groups that have endorsed the JPEPA were the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, Liga ng mga Barangay, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Port Users Confederation, Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines, Philippine Food Producers and Exporters Association, Philippine Mango Exporters Foundation and Philippine Okra Producers and Exporters.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Airline traffic boom pushes ATO to hire 300 new air controllers

Original article at News.Balita.Ph

The Air Transportation Office (ATO) will hire 300 new air controllers after the government hand was forced by the big increase in airline traffic.

ATO said Malacanang had given the office an exemption from Executive Order (EO) 366, otherwise known as the rationalization plan, which prohibits new hiring and encourages early retirement.

"As of now, the transportation sector is booming with the opening to international and regional flights of airports such as the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), the Davao, Laoag and Cebu-Mactan International Airport (CMIA), besides the Manila International Airport (MIA)," ATO said.

It said the exemption came from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that audited safety of Philippine international airports last August 23 and 24, 2007.

FAA reported that it is necessary to increase positioned personnel in the control towers, radar installation, communicators and air navigation to increase air safety.

Earlier, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo promised to provide an initial Php 100 million and the ATO said, "this will include allotments for check pilots and aviation safety inspectors."

ATO said there would be a total upgrading of its personnel and facilities, "a very encouraging development for the whole aviation industry."

ATO will also send check pilots to further their trainings to the United States and Singapore.

Currently, there are close to 400 air controllers scattered over 26 airports nationwide.

The ATO has programmed trainings for about 100 of the new hires for six months followed by 100 until the full 300 has been filled up in two years.

Of the 300 new air contollers,150 will be assigned to Manila and the rest to DMIA and CMIA.

ATO is also inviting former air controllers, technicians and communicators who have been abroad but have returned after the end of their contracts, to reapply and fill in the dearth of aviation specialists.

The ATO is also putting up a central tower at Tagbilaran Airport in Bohol, and also upgrading the newly opened airports in Bohol, Bacolod and Silay.