The Philippines and Italy completed this week a successful round of air talks, resulting in increased flights between the two countries, an official of the Civil Aeronautics Board said late Thursday.
The talks, which ran from September 3-4, came two months after the European Union removed the Philippines from a blacklist that banned local carriers from flying to the continent.
Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of CAB, said that negotiations resulted in 14 flights between the Philippines and Italy. He said this would replace a previous agreement dated 1969, which only allowed one flight a week.
Describing the discussions as “successful,” Arcilla added that Italy was a crucial destination because of its large Filipino worker and resident population, which Arcilla estimated at 170,000.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, which recently announced plans to revive its Europe flights, would fly to Italy daily, Arcilla said. PAL president Ramon Ang did not immediately reply when sought for comment.
“Rome and Milan can also be jump-off points for traffic between Southern Europe and the Philippines,” Arcilla noted.
The European Union selectively allowed Philippine carriers to fly to Europe last July 12. It was described by local air safety regulators as selective as only Philippine Airlines was permitted to fly to the continent’s 28 member states.
Other airlines like Cebu Pacific were encouraged to apply this year once they have satisfied certain requirements, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said.
Arcilla has noted that efforts to revise and improve air deals with European counterparts would ramp up following the country’s removal from an air blacklist. Talks were also being eyed with France, he had said.
The agency is also pursuing discussions with other jurisdictions like Ethiopia in Northern Africa. It was noted that Ethiopia was strategic given its proximity to Saudi Arabia and some parts of North Africa, which were becoming major destinations for overseas Filipino workers.
The agency also plans to conclude an air service agreement with South Africa, thus covering two major hubs within the continent. Also in the pipeline are talks with Japan next week and Israel, although the latter has yet to be scheduled.
The CAB recently concluded successful air negotiations with the governments of Brazil and Macau.
Recent talks with Australia, however, did not result in a new deal due to unresolved issues, said Arcilla. The government official added that he did not expect any resumption of talks with Australia within the year.