Talking to reporters covering President Arroyo’s inspection of the tourism-related projects in the Central Philippines Super Region, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said the President wants the FAA ratings downgrade issue to be resolved at once.
“Her guidance to the CAAP is that the sooner the issue is resolved, the better for us so we can take advantage of the rebounding international routes,” Durano added.
Durano said the President wanted CAAP (headed by Ruben Ciron) to infuse more technical experts in the agency to overcome the concerns on aviation safety standards in the country
FAA, the US aviation watchdog, downgraded in 2007 the Philippine aviation ratings from Category I to Category 2 along with countries like Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia due to concerns about air safety operations which, it said, were not compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.
Durano said the President took note of the rebounding global economies, which means more travel by citizens of countries whose economic conditions are improving.
He added that national carrier Philippine Air Lines’ planned expansion of flights to and from North America through its Boeing-777 jumbo jet, the world’s largest twin jet; fleet has been stunted due to the downgrade.
“The FAA downgraded us to Category 2 and because of that, we cannot maximize our opportunities coming from North America, especially now that Philippine Air Lines has new 777 and we cannot use it for this route,” Durano said.
Durano stressed that a contributing factor to the FAA downgrade was the lack of the technical personnel for specific CAAP functions.