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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        18 January 2011

Philippines to have air talks

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THE Philippine air panel is set to hold bilateral talks with at least five countries this year, an official of the Civil Aeronautics Board said. Carmelo Arcilla, CAB executive director said the governments of Japan, Hong Kong and Myanmar are interested in holding negotiations for greater access this year.

"They approached us, we are now in communication with them as to the schedule. We await for their reply," Arcilla said.

The official said the Philippine air panel also wants to hold bilateral air talks with Canada and Papua New Guinea.

The Philippine air panel is composed of representatives from the CAB, from the Departments of Transportation and Communications, of Foreign Affairs, of Tourism, and of Trade and Industry, and from airline companies.

Last year, the Philippine government completed bilateral air talks with China, Singapore, Qatar, South Korea, among others.

The liberalization of the Philippines' air policy is part of the Aquino administration's plan to bring in six million tourists by 2016.

The government is aiming for $4.6 billion worth of tourism revenues by 2016, contributing 6.35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Over the six-year period, the industry is envisioned to create 3 million new jobs.

Earlier, Porvenir Porciuncula, CAB deputy executive director, said use of the country's entitlements by foreign carriers to points outside Manila remains "quite low," except for Cebu at 44.33 percent.

Porciuncula blamed the low use on the country's tax regime and infrastructure bottlenecks.

He said that in Clark only 6.4 percent of the foreign entitlements are used. In other airports, use is lower at 0.70 percent.

Even in Manila only 51.12 percent of the entitlements are operated.

The total annualized traffic rights for third and fourth freedom excluding fifth freedom rights in the country's key airports are estimated at 35.40 million seats.

Of the total, Manila has 19.04 million seats; Clark/Subic, 9.50 million; Cebu, 2.02 million; and others, 4.84 million.

Data from CAB showed that international passenger traffic went up by 15.3 percent to 10.55 million in the first nine months of 2010, compared with the 9.15 million in 2009.

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