Philippine airlines remain banned from expanding their operations in Japan and South Korea, despite the country’s passing of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (Icao) safety audit, which should have resulted in the lifting of restrictions on Philippine-registered planes.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said while Tokyo and Seoul have yet to decline formally, requests by the Philippine government for the lifting of restrictions on local carriers have been ignored.
“They have not replied officially yet but I think the Icao is also going to be writing them,” CAAP Deputy Director General John Andrews said in a recent interview.
Following the country’s passing of its Icao safety audit, the CAAP sent twin letters to counterparts in Japan and South Korea, which have blocked the entry of new flights from the Philippines due to safety concerns.
Andrews said both Japan and South Korea should adopt the findings of the Icao, which is an attached agency of the United Nations. “We are all signatories to the Icao protocols,” he pointed out.
Icao originally cited 89 points of concern in the country’s aviation regulatory framework that jeopardized the safety of airline passenger. Some of these concerns involved the registration of aviation companies and regulations covering the training of pilots and other industry personnel.
The Icao audit was used by the European Union as basis for a ban on local airlines from mounting flights to any point within the economic bloc. The ban also meant that no Philippine carrier was allowed to even enter EU airspace.
In its latest exit report that showed the country meeting minimum safety standards, the Icao cited the Aquino administration’s “active commitment” and “positive response” to international calls for the improvement in safety standards to meet international norms.
Prior to this, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the Philippines to “category 2” status in 2007. This also banned local airlines from adding new flights to the US, although existing services were not affected.
The FAA is scheduled to do its own audit on the Philippines later this year, with local officials optimistic that the country can pass this like it passed the Icao’s scrutiny.
CAAP’s Andrews, meanwhile, said the FAA’s ban on the Philippines was for “commercial purposes.”
“They are limiting our flights to the US, but they can come here all they want unrestricted,” Andrews said, noting that the ban may just be a protectionist ploy by the US government.