Talks with Kuwait on air rights issue eyed
The Philippines plans to open discussions with Kuwait to resolve an impasse over certain air commercial rights affecting the flag carriers of both countries.
The disagreement, which has been brewing for some months, has to do with the lucrative fifth freedom flying rights, Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in an interview yesterday.
The privilege, for example, allows a domestic carrier to fly from Manila to an international destination, then pick up passengers in that location and ferry them onward to a third international destination.
The current disagreement emerged after Kuwait recently blocked Philippine Airlines’ plan to open a route to Kuwait via Dubai. PAL earlier said it was planning to use the fifth freedom privilege enjoyed by both countries under their bilateral agreement.
The Philippines, in response, suspended Kuwait Airlines’ fifth freedom rights to ferry passengers to Manila via Bangkok on March 27, 2016, Arcilla said, citing the “principle of equal opportunity.” Kuwait’s flag carrier had been operating this route for over two decades, PAL said in a previous statement.
“It’s something that needs to be settled,” Arcilla said, clarifying that no schedule on air talks has been set. “Fifth freedom rights improve a route’s viability.”
Kuwait remains an attractive market for local carriers, due to the large number of Filipino workers deployed there and the rest of the Middle East. PAL earlier announced that it launched direct flights between Manila and Kuwait in January this year. Rival Cebu Pacific launched direct Manila-Kuwait flights in 2014.
“It could be that Dubai is very valuable to Kuwait, for them to give up Bangkok [to Manila],” Arcilla said.