Roxas admits flaws in air sector regulations
The Philippines still has a long way to go before it can earn back its “category 1” status with the Federal Aviation Administration that would allow the country’s airlines to expand operations in the United States.
Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said results of the FAA’s recent technical assessment showed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) failure to address deficiencies that may jeopardize the safety of airline passengers in the country.
“The assessment was a diagnostic assessment on how well the CAAP was able to address deficiencies in the country’s regulatory framework. The diagnosis was not very good,” Roxas said in a briefing on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, CAAP Director General Ramon Gutierrez said the FAA pointed out a total of 23 deficiencies in the Philippines’ air industry regulations.
“The judgment of the FAA has to do with the rigor, firmness, consistency and completeness of regulations on the air industry,” Roxas said.
“For air services, there’s a zero-tolerance policy because any defects can lead to disaster. You cannot do things haphazardly,” he said.
Roxas said prior to his assumption of his current post, the CAAP had made a promise to President Aquino himself that the country would be able to regain its category 1 status with the FAA within a year.
Roxas said he would ask Aquino for instructions on how to proceed with the implementation of reforms at the CAAP. “We will look at the report, study it and form a course of action,” he said.
The country’s current “category 2” status means all local airlines are barred from expanding operations in the United States.
The European Union (EU) has also cited the FAA’s grade on the Philippines as basis for a ban on Philippine carriers from flying to the continent, or even over EU airspace.
Notwithstanding all the support given by Malacañang, Roxas said the CAAP still failed to make significant improvements that could warrant an upgrade.
The negative assessment comes at a crucial time for the country’s top airlines, which are both planning more flights to the United States.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) takes delivery of two Boeing 777-300 long-haul jets later this year. The airline wants to use these new planes for flights to the United States.
Cebu Pacific also announced plans for new flights to destinations outside its current four-hour range. New routes may include nearby American points Hawaii and Guam.
“The shortcomings have … more to do with implementation of a firm, clear and transparent and affirmatively applied regulatory system,” Roxas said, adding that the downgrade does not necessarily reflect on the safety procedures implemented by local airlines.
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