Airlines seen further expanding in 2016
THE OUTLOOK for the Philippine commercial aviation sector remains “positive” next year as local and foreign carriers signaled their intention to expand given that demand for air travel is expected to stay robust, a government official said.
Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in an interview that to support international traffic, the agency had been considering holding air talks with India and Indonesia by early 2016.
Both countries have large populations, making them attractive expansion targets for both tourism and trade.
Arcilla said a final schedule had yet to be finalized with both governments.
The positive outlook stemmed from announced expansion plans of domestic carriers for both their domestic and international operations.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines and budget airline Cebu Pacific Air are undergoing a refleeting plan. PAL is considering the acquisition of more long-haul aircraft, which should boost passenger traffic numbers moving forward.
“We are continuing to grow although admittedly there are constraints,” Arcilla said, referring to limitations in terms of expanding Manila’s Ninoy Aquio International Airport, the country’s busiest air gateway.
The current administration has ruled out the construction of a new runway at Naia while Transportation Secretary Jospeh Abaya said the construction of a new international air gateway at Sangley Point, Cavite was also unlikely within the term of President Aquino.
Arcilla said steps were being taken to increase runway utilization at Naia.
The Department of Transportation and Communications earlier this year tapped British firm NATS to help maximize the use of Naia’s primary runway.
The DOTC said the P66-million contract with NATS aims to increase hourly air traffic movements—or landing and takeoff activities—from the current 40 to 60 movements, an increase of 50 percent.
In the meantime, Arcilla said foreign carriers, particularly those from South Korea, had expressed their intention to start flying to Naisa.
The CAB, last November, negotiated an increase in seats between the Philippines and South Korea. Following those talks, the number of seats that carriers from both countries can use rose to 31,500 from 28,500 previously, Arcilla said.
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