PH prepares for audit of air safety standards
The US Federal Aviation Administration may push through with an audit of the Philippines’ air safety standards this month—an exercise seen as a key step for the country in getting a coveted US aviation upgrade, a government official said Monday.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director general John Andrews said in a text message that the audit would likely happen this month.
“There is a schedule but we will have to confirm the dates,” Andrews said without elaborating.
The exercise did not push through in the fourth quarter last year as anticipated by CAAP, thus delaying the upgrade to Category 1 status.
CAAP had suggested that an upgrade from its current Category 2 status was all but certain.
Nevertheless, the delay meant that local carriers had had to wait longer before being allowed to expand in the United States.
The FAA downgraded the Philippines five years ago due to safety concerns.
Currently, only flag carrier Philippine Airlines mounts flights to the US but Cebu Pacific Air, the country’s largest budget carrier, said it was eyeing expansion there as well.
“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 said in a previous interview.
The Philippines passed the ICAO assessment early last 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.
As noted, the restoration to Category 1 status 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 United States.
The FAA move is also seen as beneficial for Philippine Airlines, as it could use newer and more efficient planes to ply its lucrative US routes.
The downgrade to category 2 prevented the flag carrier from doing this.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.