Monday, 11 May 2009

Air talks add flights between Philippines, Singapore

Lenie Lectura & Jacob Cunanan
Business Mirror

THE tourism industry’s desire to have more flights to Singapore, among other destinations, has been realized with the increase in airline seat entitlements between the Philippines and that city-state to 26,200 a week.

This was one result of the successful amendment of the Philippines and Singapore air services agreement (ASA) last week that Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president Victor Jose Luciano called “a landmark agreement,” especially for the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga.

The air talks held in Singapore on May 6 and 7 alloted 11,200 weekly seat entitlements between Manila and Singapore for each side—from 8,700. It also allotted 10,000 seats for each side between Clark and Subic free ports and Singapore; and 5,000 seats to Cebu and Davao cities and back.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Deputy Executive Director Porvenir Porciuncula said, “We have been asking them since last year to include other points in exchange for their request that more entitlements be added between Manila and Singapore. What has been agreed upon may still be not enough to service demand of Singapore and local carriers.”

He said Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Zest Air have all expressed interest in applying for additional flights to Singapore.

PAL flies 20 times per week between the destinations while Cebu Pacific has 18 weekly flights. Zest Air has yet to launch its maiden flight to Singapore pending approval of its application.

Luciano said upon his arrival from the air talks on Friday. “The amended agreement translates to 50 flights weekly between Clark and Singapore, both for passenger and cargo. This air agreement is very good for Clark and the future.”

“Not only that, Clark was given fifth freedom rights to any point around the world, except to the United States and Canada, where air carriers can go beyond Clark to pick up passengers to other destinations in the world and they can do that at the rate of 14 flights per week,” he added.

Luciano is a member of the RP Air Panel headed by Transportation Undersecretary Doroteo Reyes. The other members are the CAB and officials from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of Tourism, from the CIAC, and representatives of local airlines.

The panel is headed to Spain on May 19 and 20 for similar negotiations. The ASA with Brunei had been signed April, with flight entitlements for both countries increased to two carriers from the previous one, and to seven flights a week from five.

The panel also concluded in March air talks with Australia, resulting in seat entitlements of 6,000 seats from 2,500, for flights between Manila and Clark to Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

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