Australia, PH sign new air agreement
MANILA, Philippines–Cebu Pacific, the country’s biggest budget airline, wants to launch flights to Melbourne, Australia, after the Philippine and Australian governments this week concluded a successful round of air talks, its top official said.
Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a chance interview that the budget airline would apply for the necessary permits to fly to Melbourne, its second route in Australia after Sydney, should the government secure additional capacity.
“We want to add flights to Melbourne. All allocations [to Australia] are already taken up,” said Gokongwei, adding that the carrier has yet to decide whether it would launch the flights within 2015.
Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message late Wednesday that the Philippines and Australia signed a new memorandum of understanding on air services. This paves the way for the increase in weekly seats between Manila and Australia to 9,300 per week from 6,000 per week.
Arcilla said the Philippines was seeking more than what was given but he noted that the amount “will cover our requirements in the next couple of years.” He said both Cebu Pac and Philippine Airlines (PAL) were seeking more flights to Australia, which is home to about 400,000 Filipinos.
PAL, which entered Australia earlier and operates routes to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apart from more seats, Arcilla said the Philippines and Australia had agreed to allow third-country code sharing. This will enable designated airlines of both countries to operate services jointly with an airline of a third country “to, from or via the other country and thus improve market distribution.” Earlier air talks with Australia had failed due to disagreements over these added rights.
The CAB estimated that total traffic between the Philippines and Australia was at 327,000 in 2014—higher by 10 percent that year-ago level. Arcilla said tourists from Australia in 2014 hit 224,000, up 5 percent.
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