PH, Oman conclude air talks to increase flights | Inquirer Business

PH, Oman conclude air talks to increase flights

/ 01:16 AM April 10, 2015

The Philippines and Oman have concluded a fresh round of air talks, resulting in increased flights between both countries, the head of the Civil Aeronautics Board said.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the Philippines and Oman, a country in the Middle East sharing borders with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, had reached an agreement to increase weekly flights between Manila and Muscat to seven from the previous three flights a week.

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Both countries also agreed on certain fifth freedom rights.

Arcilla said for Philippine carriers, traffic rights cover a single point each in Europe, India and the Gulf states. For Omani carriers, the rights cover a single point each in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

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Arcilla noted that the increase was likely to benefit about 50,000 Filipino workers in Oman. Oman Air launched thrice weekly services between Manila and Muscat starting December 2014.

More air talks were being planned for the year.

Arcilla said up next were talks with Australia that will run from April 28-29 and Qatar, from May 27-28, Arcilla said.

Air talks with Australia, in particular, are anticipated given several failed negotiations in recent years with the wealthy country-continent.

The Philippines and Australia last held talks in June 2013, with both sides unable to come to an agreement, partly due to fifth freedom rights, the CAB had announced.

“Australia has always been a strong market,”Arcilla said. “We have seen an increase in the number of Filipinos going to Australia either to migrate there or for work.”

Cebu Pacific, the country’s biggest budget carrier, in 2014 launched its inaugural Manila-Sydney flights and it had indicated plans to expand operations. Cebu Pacific early this year sought the CAB’s approval to reallocate seats assigned but unused by rival Philippine Airlines.

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PAL entered Australia’s market earlier and the flag carrier now mounts flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin and Brisbane, information on its website showed.

Philippine carriers are drawn to the large Filipino population in Australia. The latest data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas showed more than 390,000 Filipinos living or working in Australia.

The CAB is likewise seeking air talks with other countries including Russia and Turkey.

Apart from Oman, the Philippines concluded a successful round of air negotiations with Singapore this year.

Both countries last Feb. 13 signed a new memorandum of understanding on air services. That deal, replacing a 2014 agreement, increased the weekly entitlements between Manila and Singapore to 18,888 seats from 17,627 seats.

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TAGS: CAB, Carmelo Arcilla, Civil Aeronautics Board, Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
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