Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CAAP Stronger civil aviation rules issued

THE CIVIL Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has issued the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Act, which are expected to help the Philippines regain its category 1 safety rating from the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
The law, which abolished the Air Transportation Office (ATO), is expected to help modernize the country’s civil aviation system to bring it up to par with international standards.
"All powers, duties and rights vested by law and exercised by the ATO is hereby transferred to the" CAA, section 59-C of the IRR read. The provision took effect last March.
Under the new law, the CAA will be an independent regulatory body with quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers, and with corporate features.
The implementing rules come six months after the CAA law was signed by President Gloria M. Arroyo last March.
The US FAA last January downgraded the Philippines aviation status from Category 1 to Category 2 over concerns about the safety of the country’s airports and air carriers.
Under the category 2 rating, local carriers are barred from adding more routes to the US, even if these airlines are already flying to the US.
CAAP Director General Ruben F. Ciron was not available for comment as of late yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Manila International Airport Authority Assistant General Manager of Airport Development Tirso G. Serrano said "definitely, the upgrade will be a shot in the arm." "If we get it [FAA upgrade] right away, the airlines will rejoice," he added. "[Airlines] have said this will improve their bookings."
Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s only carrier which flies to North America, said the upgrade will allow it to use its new planes, the first of which is expected to be delivered by the third quarter of next year.
"This is a very positive development; this will let us use our new Boeing 777-300s to the US," PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said in a phone interview.
The Lucio Tan-led carrier has daily direct flights from Manila to Los Angeles and San Francisco in California. The company also flies to Las Vegas, Nevada, which stops in Vancouver, Canada.
The airline has said it is considering flying to new routes, which include San Diego in California, and even to New York in the US east coast.
However, Mr. Bautista said the new rules will not solve all of the CAAP’s problems. "If the IRR becomes acceptable to the FAA... mababawasan na issues ng CAAP (the CAAP will have less issues)."
Among the issues that the CAAP has to address, Mr. Bautista said, is recruitment of qualified personnel.
If all goes well, he said, the Philippines’ status may be upgraded by July next year.

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