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PH seeks air rights negotiations with Asean peers

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PH seeks air rights negotiations with Asean peers

The Philippine air panel is seeking air talks with several of its counterparts in the region, following the recent signing of key air transport liberalization agreements with its peers in the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean).

In an interview yesterday, Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the Philippines had sent requests for air talks to Indonesia and Thailand. Outside Asean, the country has sought air talks with Japan, India, Italy and Canada.

“We have identified a list of priority countries and we wrote them,” Arcilla said in an interview.

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Arcilla said Thailand and Indonesia had yet to respond. However, the Philippines has received similar request from the government of Laos. Arcilla said talks with Laos could happen in the second quarter of 2016.

“We are keen on strengthening our bilateral relationship with Laos,” he said.

On Feb. 3, 2016, President Aquino signed the Protocols 5 and 6 of the Asean Multilateral Agreement in Air Services, or MAAS.

With the signing, Philippine air carriers will be allowed to fly “unlimited frequencies to and beyond the capital cities” of the Asean.  This was expected to lead to better and more efficient connectivity and translate to more competitive fares and services.

Delays in the signing of the said protocols were earlier credited to limited slots in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which suffers from congestion due to growing air and passenger traffic and limited expansion space. These limitations are currently being addressed by several government agencies.

In line with the MAAS signing, the CAB is assisting Philippine air carriers in securing additional flight schedules with each of the nine other member states of the Asean.

The Philippines targets to have new flights operational within the next six months, the Department of Transportation and Communications announced earlier.

Arcilla said the country was also seeking expanded flying rights to Canada, but he said the Northern American country had begged off.

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“Canada said they are not yet ready to have air talks this year,” Arcilla said.

He said the country was likewise seeking to hold negotiations with Italy in the second quarter of 2016, although this had yet to be finalized. Italy is among the routes being targeted by domestic carriers like Philippine Airlines as a second destination in Europe.

PAL’s only direct European route is between Manila and London. Arcilla said there was also a need to update flying rights with the United States government.

“With respect to designation and route structure [ to the US], it is still very restrictive,” he said.

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TAGS: air rights, ASEAN, Association of Southeast Nations, negotiations, Philippines
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