Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Israeli tourist charged for 'bomb' joke

CEBU CITY, Philippines - Charges were filed on Monday against an Israeli tourist who was arrested on Sunday afternoon at the Mactan International Airport for joking that he had a bomb in his shoes.Eliav Goali, 23, was charged with violating Presidential Decree 1727, which declares it unlawful to make a false bomb threat. He later apologized for the joke.Senior Superintendent Reynaldo TaƱada, chief of the 7th Police Center for Aviation Security, said he informed the Israeli Embassy in Manila about the arrest of Goali.He said he spoke with Israeli Consul Nissin Palomo, who later informed the parents of Goali in Jerusalem about the arrest.The consul also talked with Goali over the phone. 

"Talagang bibigyan siya ng assistance kasi iyong Israeli national walang ka-pera-perang hawak para sa pyansa (He will be given assistance since the Israeli national doesn't have money to post bail)," he said.Goali is a tourist from Jerusalem who visited the Philippines for a few days. He was with his cousin and best friend Naor Narkisi, 25. 

He was on his way to Manila to board a plane for Bangkok enroute to Australia where he would meet his girlfriend.

Goali and Narkisi were supposed to board the 3:50 p.m. Cebu Pacific flight to Manila prior to catching a connecting flight to Bangkok in the evening.During the final security check, when Goali was asked to remove his shoes he told airport personnel "there's a bomb in my shoes."

The airport staff immediately called 7th PCAS personnel, who arrested the two.Gaoli was brought to the Lapu-Lapu police station.

On Monday, Goali was brought to the Lapu-Lapu city prosecutor's office for the filing of the complaint.Investigators said they expect the case to be filed in court.It would be up to the judge to decide whether to deport the Israeli or not

Spirit of Manila Airlines gets first aircraft.

Low cost carrier, Spirit of Manila Airlines, has acquired it’s first aircraft, a Boeing 737-300 series which it has leased from Spirit leasing Corp. The 150 seater is likely to see operation on the DMIA Clark Freeport Zone to either Macau or Taipei.
Last November Spirit of manila gained approval to operate from DMIA to Taiwan, Macau plus Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai in the Middle East. The airline has confirmed it is looking for larger aircraft to serve the Middle East airports but declined to give further details. It is also keen to build a network of regional and International services from Clark to key Asian and Mid Eastern destinations.
Currently no other Philippine airline operates to the Middle east after national carrier Philippine Airlines cancelled all flights to the region because it did not consider it a money making proposition.
We wish Spirit of Manila every success and we will monitor their progress with great interest. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Israeli held in Cebu for bomb joke

CEBU CITY, Philippines -- An Israeli was arrested at the Mactan Cebu International Airport on Sunday for cracking a bomb joke.

Eliav Goali, 24, was arrested at around 3:30 p.m. by members of the 7th Police Center for Aviation Security (PCAS) led by Senior Police Officer 1 Cesar Lubiano.Police Officer 1 Ricky Calong said Goali was supposed to board Cebu Pacific flight 5J572 bound for Manila at 3:50 p.m. when he joked about having a bomb in his possession."There's a bomb in my shoes," the Israeli was quoted as saying during the final security check prior to boarding the plane, according to investigator to Police Officer 3 Marvin Bolic.Goali, a tourist, is from Jerusalem.

He had visited the Philippines for a few days and was headed for Manila to catch a plane for Bangkok en route to Australia to meet his girlfriend.

He was with another Israeli, Naor Narkisi, 25.Narkisi opted to stay with his friend.

Calong said Goali apologized for making the joke but he was nevertheless arrested for violation of Presidential Decree 1727 or for making a false bomb threat.

The Israeli national was brought 8 p.m. Sunday to the Lapu-lapu City police station where he would be detained pending the filing of appropriate charges against him, according to Calong.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Airline Proposes Selling Flights By The Minute

A start-up South African airline is hoping to cash in on the struggling economy by selling flights by the minute.Airtime Airlines is borrowing its model from the the cellphone industry and instead of charging customers a flat fee for a flight, it is proposing to charge customers by the length of the flight.Travelers purchase minutes much like they would for a prepaid cell phone and redeem them for a ticket, according to Business Day. 

Passengers can also bank minutes and "top off" their accounts, allowing them to possibly purchase flight minutes at a lower rate and use them at a later time when the minutes are more expensive. Of course, there's also the chance that the minutes could be cheaper later on and end up costing the passeneger more.Vino Eargambram, the airline's chief executive officer, told Business Day that Airtime is "a low-key operation targeting a very distinct market -- young professionals and self-employed business people." 

But the airline -- which is slated to launch later this month -- has yet to get off the ground and still needs to clear several regulatory hurdles and find some aircraft to fly after a deal for three Boeing 737s fell through.Other discount airlines are doing whatever they can to retain business. Cebu Pacific of the Philippines said it will remove fuel and insurance surcharges for all domestic flights, and in December JetBlue offered passengers bonus points for their rewards program when traveling with their small dog or cat.

South East Asian Airlines planning flights to Macau

South East Asian Airlines (SEAir) is planning to start flying to Macau as early as April, and despite the spiraling fuel prices and incursion of the major carriers, the airline will acquire two new airbuses which are scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of this year.
According to the Philippines News Agency, Avelino Zapanta, SEAir president, said this is the many firsts of SEAir this 2009.
Zapanta said the airline will also go international, noting that with the recent signing of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Open Sky Agreement, “it is full speed ahead for SEAir as it plans to operate flights for Singapore, Macau, Incheon [in South Korea], Bangkok and Kaoshiung [in Taiwan].”
”In April 2009, we will fly to Singapore and Macau, [and] in August, Bangkok and Hong Kong, and in September, we are looking at Incheon, Bangkok and Kaoshiung,” Zapanta said.
All new flights will use the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga, Zapanta added.
According to the report, in November last year, flights from Puerto Princesa to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia were made available. The total routing of the operation is Clark-Caticlan-Puerto Princesa-Kota Kinabalu.
This is SEAir's first international flight which also serves as its entry point to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) market.
Meanwhile, Patrick Tan, vice president for commercial affairs, said “we believe in tourism as the industry of the future for the Philippines and SEAir wishes to continue to contribute in the tradition of its pioneering effort that started 14 years and recently has been manifested in new services to Tablas, Daet, Baler, Basco and Borongan.”
Aviation records show that in January to October last year, more than 35 percent of all flights to Caticlan in Boracay were via SEAir. There are at least four local carriers flying to the island paradise, the report added.
SEAir made 3,511 flights to and from Caticlan. This translates to 635 flights more than the nearest competitor.
SEAir is owned by foreign partnership of Iren Dornier and Nikos Gitsis with 40 percent, and the Filipino group of Tomas Lopez, Jr. with 60 percent. 

CAAP beefs up air traffic controllers in Zambo airport

ZAMBOANGA CITY- The Zamboanga City office of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said Wednesday that three new air traffic controllers were sent by the Air Traffic Service from Manila to augment manpower in the control tower.

Airport Manager Celso Bayabos said the new air traffic controllers were of great help for the airport’s operation since the tower only has a 13 people for its operation.Bayabos said that three of its 14 traffic controllers remain relieved from their post since an investigation has been going on.

Four traffic controllers were late reporting for work last December 26 because of the holidas. As a result three commercial flights that morning were affected after pilots complained no one in the tower was answering to give them permission to land.

Bayabos said the new air traffic controllers assumed work in Zamboanga Airport last January 5, and will remain until April.

CebPac plane makes emergency landing

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) A Cebu Pacific plane that experienced engine trouble made an emergency landing about 10 minutes after taking off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila Wednesday morning.

Flight 5J 893, bound for Caticlan, Aklan, landed safely at around 7:21 a.m. on the NAIA 1’s Runway 06 and it’s 53 passengers and four crew were unhurt, according to Manila International Airport Authority media affairs chief Connie Bungag.

The MIAA, which runs NAIA, said the pilot reported a problem in the ATR-72-500 propeller-plane’s right engine.

The passengers disembarked at the runway while the plane was moved to parking bay 114 Alpha at NAIA Terminal 3.

“The pilot noticed alarm lights blinking on the instrument panel which warned that something was wrong with the engine. He followed aviation procedures and prepared for emergency landing,” Cebu Pacific vice president for communications Candice Iyog later told reporters.

A statement from the airline issued around noon said all the 53 passengers were given travel vouchers and took another Cebu Pacific flight for Caticlan via Kalibo two hours later.

“The engine of the 11-month-old ATR 72-500 aircraft will be checked by an international maintenance crew from Cebu Pacific and the aircraft’s manufacturer, a subsidiary of Airbus’ parent company,” the statement read.

Caticlan and Kalibo are the gateways for tourists bound to the world-renowned resort island of Boracay.

Cebu Pacific has other spare planes and does not expect any delay in the airlines’ flight schedule this week, according to Iyog.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Filipino flies world’s biggest jet

THE AIRBUS A380, launched almost four years ago, is every inch a marketing tool as it is an advantage to airlines that own the world’s biggest commercial aircraft.

After all, only a handful of carriers have the 525-seater plane in their fleets given the Super jumbo jet’s premium $320-million price tag. The next biggest plane, the Boeing 747-400 from rival Boeing, costs $50 million to $100 million less.

Equally few and far between are the men than call themselves A380 pilots. But while no Philippine carrier can afford the jet, and no local airport can fully accommodate it, Filipinos can take pride in the fact that behind the wheel of one of the biggest man-made objects in the sky is one of their own.

"I guess you can say God smiled upon me and blessed me It’s the proverbial being at the right place at the right time," Nathaniel Jordan S. Calvo, the first and only Filipino A380 pilot in the world, said. "It’s like living a dream," he told BusinessWorld via e-mail.

The A380’s upper deck extends along almost the entire length of the fuselage, and its width is equivalent to that of a wide-body aircraft. This allows for a cabin with 50% more floor space than the Boeing 747-400 and provides seating for 525 people in a standard three-class configuration, or up to 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.

Nathaniel Jordan S. Calvo, the first and only Filipino A380 pilot in the world.

On Sept. 15, in the culmination of what he described as a "very intense and thorough training program," Mr. Calvo received his temporary license to fly the Super jumbo. For him, its was a dream come true.

"This is like the cherry on top of a cake. Not only do I get to fly the biggest and most modern airplane, but I am also very glad to have made some sort of history as being the first Filipino qualified to fly it," said Mr. Calvo, who works for Emirates Airline.

The 37-year-old Filipino-American pilot has childhood roots that are unmistakably Filipino. He studied at O.B. Montessori in Greenhills for his elementary education before moving to Manila Science for high school.

Upon graduation, Mr. Calvo took up mechanical engineering at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, before leaving for the US to continue his studies at Parks College of Saint Louis University. There, he earned a degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

After college, he entered the Flight Safety Academy in Florida, this time, not just to learn flying as a hobby, but as a trained professional. By 1995, less than five years after attending Saint Louis, Mr. Calvo was already flying as a professional.

"I can’t remember wanting to be anything else than a pilot," he said. With roots linked to a country that has more than eight million people, or roughly a tenth of its population working abroad to contribute more than $15 billion to the country’s economy yearly, Mr. Calvo is proud that he, along with other Filipino pilots, have risen above the usual profiling by foreigners.

"I am always proud to meet other Filipino pilots whenever I am flying around. It reaffirms my belief that we as Filipinos can always live up and even go beyond the typical stereotypes we usually face in other countries," he said.

While being able to fly the A380 is a feat in itself, he said knowing that jaws are dropping when people see the plane he flies is a bonus. "I like the fact than when flying, air traffic control designates our airplane type as Super jumbo to let air traffic know what a big airplane they are seeing on their radar screens," Mr. Calvo said.

Hearing other more experienced pilots over the radio say how big the A380 is, and calling it names like "a building with wings" does not fail to thrill him.

Happily married and raising his three-year-old son with his wife of eight years, Cecilia, Mr. Calvo does not have plans to have his wings clipped any time soon.

"For as long as God allows me to be a pilot" was how Mr. Calvo described his retirement plan. "Besides, when the day comes that I quit being a professional aviator, I still see myself flying around in my own little four-seater airplane," he added.

And his advice to other Filipinos working abroad? "Keep your head high and never let anyone put you down no matter what. Don’t be bothered by the type of work you may be in, as long as it’s honest living, you can and always should be proud."