THE PHILIPPINES will push through with air talks with other Asian countries as the air panel convenes this month, according to an official of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).
Carmelo L. Arcilla, CAB executive director, told BusinessWorld in a phone interview yesterday that the panel targets to close the deal with China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. To date, he said the Philippines has 10,000 seats per week for each of these countries.
"The panel has to decide first how many more seats per flight we would negotiate to have," Mr. Arcilla said.
The country’s air panel is composed of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Department of Tourism and local airline representatives.
Meanwhile, Mr. Arcilla said that CAB awarded Singapore entitlements last week to Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Air Philippines Corp. The flag carrier got 700 seat entitlements or four weekly flights. From 28 flights per week, PAL now has 32 flights a week to Singapore.
Cebu Pacific Air, which flies to Singapore 25 times a week, got 908 seats or six more flights a week. The budget carrier can now field 32 flights per week to Singapore.
Airphil Express and Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit) can now mount daily flights to Singapore after the CAB awarded each of them seat entitlements.
Mr. Arcilla said the country’s amended air services agreement with Singapore last May produced 2,647 weekly seats for PAL to use for Manila-Singapore flights. Since the start of the year the Philippine air panel has inked air pacts with Bahrain and Turkey.
Moreover, he said the CAB will also amend existing agreements with the European Union members such as Italy and Germany.
"Even the local carriers have been banned to fly to the countries in Europe, we still have to amend our existing deals with them. They are actually requiring us to amend the agreement to a community designation deal," he said.
Mr. Arcilla said that in a community designation agreement, European countries such as the UK can designate an airline from the Netherlands to operate in the Philippines.
"The amended agreement will give the flexibility to designate an airline to invest and operate in the Philippines. It would translate to more carriers operating here," he said.
To date, he said the CAB has sealed the amended deal with Spain, the Netherlands, the UK, Finland and Turkey for the past two years.