PH aviation sector gets big boost

UN regulatory agency lifts safety concerns


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a regulatory body under the United Nations, has officially lifted its significant safety concerns (SSC) grade on the Philippines, paving the way for the eventual return of Philippine carriers to Europe and the resumption of their expansion in the United States.

In a statement Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) cited the Aquino administration’s “active commitment” and “positive response” to international calls for the improvement in safety standards to meet international norms.

CAAP Director General William K. Hotchkiss III, the former chief of the Philippine Air Force, formally relayed to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya the issuance of an official communication from the Montreal-based ICAO that “the corrective actions taken by the Philippines have successfully addressed and resolved the SSCs identified by ICAO.”

Hotchkiss’ letter to Abaya was sent last Friday, the CAAP said.

Abaya had said that the official lifting of the EU’s ban should come in two to three weeks.

In its 2010 report, the ICAO had cited 89 points of concern in the country’s aviation regulatory framework that jeopardized the safety of airline passengers. ICAO’s SSC grade on the Philippines was used by the European Union in 2010 to ban local airlines from flying to Europe. In 2007, the Philippines was also downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to “Category 2” status, which meant Philippine carriers were banned from expanding operations in the United States.

The FAA’s downgrade of the Philippines prompted reforms that led to the dissolution of the Air Transportation Office (ATO), which was replaced by the CAAP.

“With this positive development, the CAAP will continue to coordinate with the European Union and the Federal Aviation Administration about upgrading the country’s aviation status,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said in a statement yesterday.

“It’s very positive. It’s a positive development and we are very optimistic,” Valte said when asked in a briefing if this was enough to get an upgrade from EU and the FAA. “I was told that the FAA and EU both adhere to the aviation safety standards that are set by the ICAO.”

Even so, she said that the CAAP has to undertake a separate process with the EU and FAA, but the CAAP would continue to talk to both “to take this positive development into consideration for the upgrading of our aviation status.”

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  • Maurice

    VERY VERY VERY VERY Good News !!!

    Biiiiiiiiig boost for tourism. Congratulations to all people who worked hard to reach this success.

  • 1voxPopuli

    LP pogi points 1 : UNA 0

  • Mabuhay!

    It was a big mistake for PAL stop flying to EU since 15yrs ago. It would not be easy to recover back the marketing pipeline they developed for three decades in EU. PAL airfare must be attractive enough or at least match up any Middle Eastern Carriers to penetrate quickly the 600thsd Fil-EU living and working in the 27 EU Member States.  They need to invest extensively for marketing blitz promotion and so on. PAL must ensure to secure a better ETD slot ex EU and ETA MLA than any other airlines. It must also improve their in-flight services and on time performance to convince passengers to fly again on PAL.

  • Ajuoy

    Do not vote for UNA candidates for continuing Philippine progress. Binay, Enrile, Estrada ay tanggalin sa inyong voter’s list.

  • titolim

    Gloria Arroyo, Leandro mendoza na read nyo ang balitang ito?

  • superpilipinas

    Good news indeed.

    Now let’s see it to believe it. 

    When will the first PAL or CP flight land in EU?

    Is it really a genuine security issue, or is it more like protectionsim?

    We will find out. 

    • Calvin Serrano

      Philippine Airlines will probably go to Rome, and Heathrow in the next year. Highly unlikely CP will go to Europe due to market concerns for LCC airlines internationally to Europe. 

      CP and PAL will start new destinations in the United States if the FAA downgrades them to CAT1. CP will start Hawaii flights, while PAL will be adding New York, Chicago, and maybe Seattle. 

    • pinoysadubai

      i heard babalik na rin daw dito sa dubai ang PAL…sana naman…masyado kasi monopolized ng Emirates Airlines ang direct flight sector papuntang Manila…kaya ang mahal ng tickets (although may code-sharing sila sa PAL, pero few seats lang ang given)…

      Cebu Pacific will also start flying to Dubai in October…well that’s good news too! mas maraming option..

    • foreignerph

      Protectionism? What would you call then the special tax for long haul non-Filipino airlines landings in Manila? Last year, KLM, the last airline to offer a direct service from the EU to the PH had to stop service for this protectionist bribe.

      As I have flown into Manila from the EU about 33 times the past 10 years, mostly by KLM, I had to abandon this airline for now and use Qatar last February. Travelers don’t care about nationalism and country flag carriers. They just want the best rates and the easiest flight, i.e. direct. If PA can offer the cheapest rates without all the hocus-pocus of bargain, promo and light fares they are obfuscating the PH domestic market with, they will get a market share outbound the EU. If not, then not.

  • mark1205

    Looks like we can mount more direct flights. 

    BUT CAN NAIA REALLY HANDLE MORE?Blame the same department for not having envisioned a bigger airport until now! An airport that will definitely be at par with the worlds best is far from realization. What can I say there’s nothing new about the pace of the government.

    • foreignerph

      Of course NAIA can handle it. It’s a fine airport for a developing country. Unlike 6-10 years ago, the immigration queues are almost empty now and the clerks there are most forthcoming and do actually smile. On departure, where in the world can you find a lounge with free food, beds and armchairs for just 400p? On arrival, where else can you find taxis into town for 100-150p if you make the effort to take the elevator to the departure level and make a bargain at the end of the curb?

      Nagging really seems to be a national PH hobby. Anyways, NAIA is reserved to foreign airlines. PA will fly from the centennial and CP from terminal 3, both still under-used.

      • mark1205

        I have no doubts about the capacity of the terminals but clearly, you do not know about the single runway that is being used in NAIA= delay in flight movements. Not to mention the risk if the singe available runway of the 2 suffers from a disaster. All the flights will be redirected to Clark. Have you not even noticed the queuing of plans in taking off? This should be a situation long addressed by our incompetent officials. All of our progressive neighbors have at least 4 airport runways.

  • efriend

    Good news PHL! 

    Now it’s time for Philstar and ABS-CBN to fire its employees who delivered the wrong information to the public.  An apology is also expected resulting from bad journalism.

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