Philippines, Thailand agree to increase flights
New entitlements seen enough to cover 3% traffic growthBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines and Thailand have agreed to increase the number of allowed flights between key cities to support the growth in air travel in the region.
The new flight entitlements were approved following two days of negotiations this week in Bangkok between the Philippine Air Panel and Thai counterparts.
Both sides agreed on a 27-percent increase in allowed flights between Manila and Bangkok to 6,880 seats per week.
“This is enough to cover the growth in traffic, which is about three percent per year,” Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director and air panel vice chairman Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message.
The panel was led by Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla.
Currently, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and budget airline Cebu Pacific are the only local firms with routes to Thailand, one of Southeast Asia’s biggest tourist draws.
Both sides also agreed to allow for unlimited flights between all points outside Manila and all points to Thailand outside Bangkok, “in line with (Executive Order) 29.”
Executive Order 29 outlines the Aquino administration’s pocket “open skies” policy, which liberalizes the air rights regime in cities outside Manila. The policy aims to promote the growth of minor air hubs and promote trade and tourism in the provinces.
The Philippine Air Panel is composed of representatives from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DOT expects 4.5 million foreign travelers to visit the Philippines this year, up from 3.9 million last year.
By 2016, the government wants foreign travelers to reach 10 million.
Last September, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said international traffic to the Philippines rose 7.41 percent with 8.63 million travelers, including locals, going in and out of the country from 8.03 million last year.