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AirAsia PH plan to fly to the US hits snag

/ 05:20 AM September 18, 2019

Budget carrier AirAsia Philippines’ plan to mount flights to the United States— starting with Guam by 2020—hit a snag as rival Air Philippines, an affiliate of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, is refusing to give up its slot.

AirAsia Philippines, which is aggressively expanding in the Philippines and abroad, last month asked the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for a permit to fly to the US territory.

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But this action will require the CAB to revoke Air Philippines’ designation to the United States under the Philippines-US Air Transport Agreement.

The designation allows its holder to mount flights to the United States.

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CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla told the Inquirer one hearing had been held so far and that Air Philippines, also known as PAL Express, had expressed its intention to keep its US designation.

“That’s normal. It’s instinctive for airlines to retain what they have. The more routes you have, the higher your value,” Arcilla said.

He said the CAB would give Air Philippines the chance to explain its position.

A company official did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Arcilla said it was not unusual for the CAB to revoke designations and assign flight frequencies to other carriers.

Philippine Airlines has operations between Manila and Guam and other points in the US mainland but Air Philippines was supposedly not using its entitlements.

The latter, in 2016, briefly used its US designation to fly to Saipan.

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Sought for comment on Tuesday, AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricardo Isla said the application was in line with the carrier’s efforts to expand its network.

Guam, about three and a half hours away from the Philippines, is attractive for local carriers given its sizeable Filipino population.

Previous estimates said Filipinos accounted for about a quarter of the island’s 160,000 people.

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TAGS: AirAsia Philippines, Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Philippine Airlines, United States
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