Gov’t sets air talks with Sri Lanka, Vietnam | Inquirer Business

Gov’t sets air talks with Sri Lanka, Vietnam

The Philippines is seeking to sign at least three more “open skies” deals with its neighbors in a bid to boost tourism and trade with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said it has set meetings to negotiate additional flight entitlements with Sri Lanka in July and Vietnam in September. Negotiations with Indonesia are also expected to resume later this year.

The talks are in line with the Aquino administration’s recently passed “open skies” policy, which allows airports outside Manila to accept direct flights to international destinations.


CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla, who is part of the inter-agency Philippine Air Panel, said the government tried to forge a deal with Indonesia last week. However, both parties failed to reach an agreement following two days of negotiations. “We both agreed to set a new round of talks later this year. There were still a lot of issues that we could not resolve,” Arcilla said. He declined to provide details.


Earlier this year, the Philippine air panel signed its first open skies deal with Malaysia. This granted an additional 2,520 seats a week between Kuala Lumpur and Manila on top of the existing 2,300.

“We also agreed on unlimited traffic rights to airports outside of Manila,” Arcilla said.

The unlimited deal for unlimited flights to points outside of Manila was in keeping with President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 29, which outlines the government’s “open skies” policy. This means that instead of adhering to pre-determined figures, the number of flights to a certain city will be driven by demand and the availability of airport and runway space.

By opening up points all over the country, the government seeks to increase the number of direct flights to popular tourist destinations and other cities such as Cebu and Davao. At the moment, most tourists still have to book connecting flights from Manila to these secondary routes.

Excluding Manila from the liberalized policy also seeks to decongest the city’s airports. The liberalization of air rights, which local airlines have opposed for fear of competition from bigger carriers in the region, is seen as key to the government’s goal of doubling foreign tourist arrivals to six million by 2016.

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TAGS: Air Transport, Civil Aeronautics Board, Government, Open skies, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

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