Gov’t eyes air talks with FranceBy Miguel R. Camus
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines wants to start air talks with France in early 2014 as part of efforts to revise outdated air service agreements and as local airlines seek to expand to the continent after the lifting two months ago of a ban on Philippine carriers, a government official said.
Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said discussions on gaining expanded seat entitlements were expected to be held by January 2014.
The plan comes as the Philippines completed a successful round of air talks with Italy at the start of this month. Under that deal, the Philippines got 14 flight entitlements from Italy, replacing a previous agreement dated 1969, which provided for only one flight entitlement.
Getting more seats to Europe would immediately benefit flag carrier Philippine Airlines, which announced earlier that it would start a nonstop Manila to London service in November. PAL also plans to fly to Paris, Rome and Amsterdam.
The need for new air talks come as demand for services to the said routes rises. Local airlines also seek new routes for their expanding fleets.
For example, Philippine Airlines, which has more than 45 planes at present, plans to acquire 71 more aircraft in the next five years, including more next-generation long-range Boeing 777 planes.
Rival Cebu Pacific, which has 47 planes, is also expanding its fleet. It is acquiring or leasing 26 new aircraft and retire some seven operating leases, to end 2017 with 62 planes.
The CAB also held discussions in the previous week with Japan, which resulted in what Arcilla described as “one of the most liberal increases so far.”
In the new agreement, Philippine and Japanese carriers got 119 flights per week between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Narita International Airport, Japan’s primary air gateway. The new deal, which replaces the agreement signed in 2008, was deemed necessary as current seat entitlements were almost fully utilized.