Gov’t urged to adopt Singapore’s bilateral open skies model | Inquirer Business

Gov’t urged to adopt Singapore’s bilateral open skies model

By: - Business News Editor / @daxinq
/ 01:25 AM June 08, 2011

SINGAPORE—Singapore, whose aviation industry policies are among the most liberal in the world, pursues “open skies” deals on a negotiated case-to-case basis rather than the blanket approach that the Philippines is leaning toward.

Speaking before members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam reaffirmed his government’s commitment to remove market barriers, while ensuring that the situation was not unduly exploited by foreign rivals.

“This is reflected in our pursuit of a liberal aviation policy, such as in concluding bilateral open skies agreements with over 40 countries to date,” said the official, who is also the city state’s minister for finance and manpower.


As such, flag carrier Philippine Airlines wants local authorities to take a second look at the successful Singaporean model instead of pursuing an all-out open skies policy that would hurt local airlines.


“This is Singapore, and it is the most liberal in the region, yet it forms open skies based on bilateral talks,” PAL president Jaime Bautista said. “If even liberal Singapore is doing it this way, it is probably wise (for the Philippines) not to abdicate its rights all at once, too.”

He expressed concern that the model being pushed by the government at this point would give up all privileges of local airlines “unilaterally” without them being able to gain commensurate privileges from other countries or their airlines.

Bautista said PAL was not asking the government to insulate it from foreign competitors, but was asking only that any policy put in place grant equal benefits to all industry players involved.

“We are ready to compete. In fact, we want to compete,” he said. “What we are asking for is a level playing field.”

Bautista said PAL had long been wrongly caricatured as a firm that was eager to protect itself from stronger foreign competitors. However, he said other local carriers were now waking up to the threat posed by foreign airlines that would benefit from the so-called “pocket open skies” policy.

In particular, Cebu Pacific has become more vocal against the open skies policy in recent months, following the announcement that Malaysia’s Air Asia—which pioneered the budget carrier model in the region—would start operating from the Philippines by September.

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TAGS: Air Transport, aviation, Open skies, Philippines, Singapore

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