PH aviation exec confident of FAA upgrade
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines may be in for an aviation upgrade as a team from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) arrives next week to conduct what it calls a “mini-audit,” a government official said.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director general John Andrews did not mince words on Wednesday when he said he expected the FAA to upgrade the Philippines to a coveted category 1 status this year.
“We are still maintaining the position that [the country’s category] will be lifted before the end of the year. If that does not happen, then I will no longer be here. That is my commitment,” Andrews told reporters in a press conference.
The FAA downgraded the Philippines five years ago due to safety concerns.
“There are no more safety issues as far as we are concerned. This has been confirmed by no less than the EU [European Union] and ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization],” Andrews added.
The Philippines passed the ICAO assessment early this year, which led to the lifting last July of a ban imposed by the European Union. This allowed Philippine Airlines to fly to points in Europe.
Cebu Pacific, which is also seeking to fly to European Union, would have to wait until the next meeting, or March, Andrews told reporters.
The restoration to category 1 status, from the current category 2, would allow carriers like Philippine Airlines, the only domestic carrier with flights to the United States, to expand flights within that country. It also opens the door for other carriers to fly to the US.
The FAA move is also seen as beneficial for Philippine Airlines, as it could utilize newer and more efficient planes to ply its US routes. A condition of the downgrade to category 2 prevented the flag carrier from doing this.
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