Cebu Pacific wants to start flying to Europe

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08:31 PM September 22nd, 2013

By: Miguel R. Camus, September 22nd, 2013 08:31 PM

Cebu Pacific Air is seeking to mount flights to Europe as part of its long-haul strategy and it intends to make a  presentation to the European Union in November.

However, a government official said the airline would need to pass first a full assessment by the country’s air safety regulator before it could proceed with its plan.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Deputy Director General John Andrews said the regulator would specifically revisit the airline’s pilot training policies—an area that CAAP sought to strengthen after the airline’s landing mishap at the Davao International Airport last June.

“Cebu Pacific is still compliant but the full assessment has yet to be done. We have to finish it by the end of October,” Andrews said in a recent interview.

“Only then can we say to the EU people that Cebu Pacific is ready,” Andrews said. He added that EU inspectors would also make their own assessment on the airline.

In July,  the European Union Air Safety Committee removed the Philippines from the list of airlines that were banned from flying into areas within the 28-member bloc after the country implemented safety reforms.

However, only flag carrier Philippine Airlines was allowed to fly to Europe as Cebu Pacific withdrew its application.

Andrews at the time noted that the Davao incident, during which Cebu Pacific’s plane skidded off the runway, closing down the airport for two day, prompted the budget carrier to withdraw. None of the passengers were hurt in the accident, which was later revealed to be caused by pilot error.

The EU Air Safety Committee convenes twice a year. The second meeting will be held in November, when Cebu Pacific plans to make its case to mount flights to Europe, Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei said early this month.

“As soon as we have all the documents in, we can (complete the assessment),” Andrews said.

Gokongwei earlier said he believed that Cebu Pacific was already compliant with the required air safety standards.

Gokongwei, who is also the president of the airline’s owner, JG Summit Holdings Inc., said Cebu Pacific had beefed up its pilot training program and enlisted experts from plane maker Airbus SAS to review its flight operations systems.

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