Monday, 27 July 2009

New Philippines-UK air pact opens door for flights to Britain

Lenie Lectura
Business Mirror

DOMESTIC airliners are reportedly keen on mounting flights to the United Kingdom (UK). In fact, Philippine Airlines (PAL), owned by tycoon Lucio Tan, may consider flying to the UK, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

“They [PAL] have not filed an application yet but they are making inquiries. PAL is studying it,” said CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla. PAL executives were not immediately available for comment.

The Philippines and the UK have amended the air services agreement (ASA) early this month, fielding a total of 14 flights per week between the two countries.

Flights to Manila and or Clark total to seven weekly flights. Another seven flights per week were allotted to other points in the country, except from Manila and Clark. Previously, each country was authorized to field only seven flights per week to all points in the Philippines.

No domestic airline is currently mounting flights to the UK. “But we believe that a lot of Filipinos will benefit [from the new flights]. The carriers just have to realize that. There is a huge number of Filipinos living in the UK,” added Arcilla.

He said there are an estimated 300,000 Filipinos living in Britain. The “UK remains quite a strong option. British Airways is not discounting the possibility of fielding flights here. Our airlines should also realize that,” added the CAB official.

The air talks were held from July 7 to 9. The CAB is a member of the Philippine air panel, while the other members are composed of officials from the departments of Transportation and Communications, Foreign Affairs and Tourism, as well as Clark International Airport Corp. Representatives of local airline companies were also involved in the talks.

This is the second air pact the Philippines has signed with a European country. In May, the country and Spain sealed a new air deal for each country to field 28 weekly flight. From Manila to Madrid and Barcelona, there are seven flights per week awarded to the Philippines. To Madrid and Barcelona from Clark’s Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, 14 weekly flights were allocated.

Other points in the country, except Manila and Clark, were allotted seven flights per week. The same goes for Spain in which daily flights were also made available except for Madrid and Barcelona.

Manila was also granted rights to service 200 tons of cargo per week, while Clark was allowed 300 tons per week. “For cargo, seven flights per week were also granted,” Arcilla said.

The Philippine-UK air pact was the ninth agreement sealed by the Philippine air panel since the start of the year. Last month, a new deal with Singapore was finalized. Air services agreement were also sealed with Brunei and Australia in March; Kuwait and Bahrain in February; and Qatar and United Arab Emirates in January.

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