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Singapore, Manila in talks to raise frequency of flights

/ 07:21 PM February 02, 2014

The Philippines and Singapore are expected to proceed with air talks this week to potentially increase flights between both countries, a government official said last week.

Carmelo Arcilla, Civil Aeronautics Board executive director, said the talks with Singapore would take place on Feb. 5 and 6. This will be followed by talks with New Zealand on March 5 and 6.

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Negotiations between the Philippines and Singapore bogged down in 2012 due to what Arcilla had described as outstanding issues.

The CAB, as head of the multiagency domestic air panel, is seeking talks with more countries to revise sometimes outdated air service agreements as rapidly expanding carriers seek more capacity to international destinations. In some cases, it is other jurisdictions that initiate talks with the Philippines, Arcilla said.

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Beyond Singapore and New Zealand, Arcilla noted that there was no other confirmed schedule.

But he said they were looking at close neighbors like Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), and Taiwan.

Long-haul destinations include Canada, as well as Ethiopia and Egypt in Africa, which have initiated discussions, Arcilla said.

“Canada wants another round of air talks,” he said.

Australia, too, remained on the radar after talks stalled last year, he added.

The Philippines started the year with the successful conclusion of air talks with France.

Arcilla said there would now be seven weekly flights between Manila and France from the previous maximum of four.

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Flag carrier Philippine Airlines had used the previous entitlements to France until it stopped servicing the route in 1998.

There is at present no direct flight between the Philippines and France, and it is still uncertain how soon local carriers can start using the fresh entitlements  as PAL president Ramon Ang said the market was still being studied.

France was the second European country with which the Philippines had sought to update air service agreements since a multiyear ban on local carriers flying to the continent was lifted in July last year.

The Philippines last September also negotiated more flights with Italy.

Apart from an increase in the frequency of flights, the Philippines also agreed on the so-called third country code sharing, specifically for Air France and Netherlands-based Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V., or KLM, on the Paris-Manila via Amsterdam route, Arcilla said.

“This means Air France can operate from Paris to Manila via Amsterdam, using KLM as operating carrier,” Arcilla said.

Philippine carriers may be part of the third country code sharing deal on the Manila-Paris route with any South East or East Asian airline, he added.

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