US Open Skies, Boon or Bane

It's all Economics!

April 28, 2013

THIS year marks the 10th anniversary of the country’s open-skies agreement with the United States, but it remains to be seen whether the pact has resulted in increased numbers of tourists entering the country, as its proponents have argued, or had a negligible effect on tourist arrivals.

Among the various entitlements under the agreement, few have been followed, according to Southeast Asian Airlines (Seair) President Avelino L. Zapanta. He said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the country’s aviation to Category 2, preventing any of the country’s air carriers from expanding any of their routes to the US.

“Naisahan tayo sa Category 2.  That’s the way of the Americans, to put one over us to prevent us from benefiting  [from the] open-skies facility,” Zapanta said.

Asked to comment on Zapanta’s observation during a separate interview, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) Director General William K. Hotchkiss III gave a knowing smile: “It’s all economics. I can talk only about technical matters.”

Zapanta said that at present, the United States is not using its entitlement of 36 flights per week.

For his part, Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla, when asked to comment about the successes/failures of the open-skies agreement, said:

“Each country adopts its own pace in liberalizing, uso ’yan ngayon [that’s the trend today], not open skies but liberalization.” Even  the Philippines is pursuing liberalization, he added.

Asked whether the US took advantage of our open-skies policy so that US carriers could fly outside of Manila, Arcilla categorically said no. “The level of operation has been static; in fact, it has been lessened at some point but recently it has been static, and the reason for this is open skies is not a silver bullet,” he added.

The CAB chief said open skies is not a panacea where one invites the other participants to an agreement and expects that the services would increase and the tourists would come in droves.

“It’s all economics" DG Hotchkiss remarks on US Open Skies
“It’s a market-driven industry. So, it’s about infrastructure, marketing and peace-and-order perception.” 

He added that open skies could be an element or a support system that could bring about these goals.

Asked whether Philippine Airlines (PAL) was right all along when it claimed that open skies would not spur air-traffic growth or uplift local aviation industries, Arcilla had a ready reply: “We could not because we were downgraded to Category 2. We could have, because the market is growing.”

View from Brussels

The CAB chief recently flew to Brussels, accompanied by executives from PAL and Cebu Pacific to see Matthew Baldwin, currently director for Air Aviation and International Transport Policy at the European Commission.

Hotchkiss said Baldwin wanted to see the safety oversight system of the Philippines in accordance with international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Authority (Icao).

“I made a presentation…they knew already that as far as Icao is concerned, there were no longer SSC or significant safety concerns [in Philippine aviation]. And we also told them what we have done so far after that lifting of SSC, to address whatever safety concerns the EU has.”

Because of this, Hotchkiss said European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport is sending a team to Manila the first week of June “to see whether what we told them is really there, the procedures prescribed by ICAO, hindi ’yung puro bibig lang tayo.”

In 2010 the 27-member European Commission imposed a ban on Philippine carriers, including PAL and Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) from European airspace for the failure of the Caap to reform the country’s civil-aviation system. The EU followed the conclusions of the Icao as basis to ban Philippine carriers from operating over European skies.

Both decisions made by the European Commission and the FAA prevented airlines from the Philippines to mount additional flights to the US and Europe. But following the February 18 to 22 audit, the ICAO lifted the SSCs on the Philippines.

Hotchkiss received a copy of a letter of Raymond Benjamin, secretary-general of Icao, endorsing the Caap efforts toward aviation safety oversight.

Following the European Safety Council’s visit in June, Hotchkiss said he was “hopeful for the Filipino people, not just for Caap, that the EU would lift its ban before the end of the semester and hopefully, PAL and Cebu Pacific will fly to Europe and the European airlines as well.”

He added that the European and American investors appear in a hurry to have their respective countries resume flights to the Philippines in the wake of announcements by the Asian Development Bank and Moody’s Investors about the country’s robust economy.

John Bargallo and the FAA

Hotchkiss said John Bargallo, FAA manager for international programs and policies, can’t come to review the CAAP’s new status so he is sending somebody else on May 2 or 3 for a “check-in” visit.

“So it’s just a matter of communications and face-to-face visits and just to again affirm that what we are saying we have done has actually been done, insofar as standards and recommended practices are concerned.”

Asked how soon could the Philippines get back the Category 1 rating, Hotchkiss said: “I cannot tell that at the moment, but we’re also positive, maybe, the end of this year.…”

No happy landing for Aquino at Catarman airport

A highway runs through it 

April 28, 2013

By Michael Lim Ubac

CATARMAN, Northern Samar—President Benigno Aquino III discovered on Friday that it’s no fun to land on this town’s short and accident-prone runway, especially on board a Philippine Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane.

Mr. Aquino had a rough landing on Friday morning in this sleepy town, site of the first leg of his three-town swing through Northern Samar and Southern Leyte provinces intended to ensure a 12-0 win for his handpicked senatorial candidates.

Only a day after returning from Brunei, the President was already back on the campaign trail, but his eagerness to resume campaigning for Team PNoy was met with one minor air turbulence: the Marcos-era Fokker F28 presidential plane conked out during a scheduled trip from Dumaguete City to Cebu for a campaign rally last week.

So he had to fly in a C-130, which is built for maneuvering on Catarman’s perilous 1280-meter runway.

He last boarded this Air Force workhorse when he brought back the remains of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo from Masbate City to Naga City in August 2012.

‘Rocks are coming out’

“When I disembarked (from the plane), many wondered why I kept on staring at the pavement. I told them, ‘look, the pavement is almost gone and the rocks are coming out. A tarmac should be on level ground,’” said Mr. Aquino, recounting his initial impression of the airport during a rally at the Freedom Park here.

He recalled that the airport was actually “intersecting a highway,” meaning it is also used for other purposes (people and vehicles cross the runway since houses serve as the airport’s de facto perimeter fence).

Some airlines had already ceased plying the Manila-Catarman route as the number of passengers using the airport had dwindled through the years because of safety concerns.

State of disrepair

“Of course, a runway should be flat. There may come a time when tourists would start flocking to this place and they would find it incredulous that the runway is littered with humps. That’s the end of our tourism program,” said Mr. Aquino.

The President learned from local officials that the runway has been in a state of disrepair for the last 40 years.

The President was also greeted with the unseemly sight of a dilapidated terminal in dire need of a fresh coat of paint and major renovations.

Security was also evidently lax.

Right then, the President decided to provide allocation for the rehabilitation of the terminal and the upgrading of the runway.

The transportation department has already bid out the P7.6-million Catarman Airport Development project, which consists of an asphalt overlay of 128 meters of the runway and the construction of 264-meter perimeter fence.

Time to buy new plane

Brig. Gen. Ramon Mateo Dizon, Presidential Security Group chief, agreed that although the C-130 was a safer alternative for landing and takeoff in shorter runways, he deemed it wise for the leader of Asia’s so-called “rising star” to rely on the services of a new plane.

“What we’re saying is it’s time to buy a new plane. As to what kind of plane, it’s up to the experts (at the Air Force),” said Dizon.

“I don’t want to preempt the Air Force. Their procurement process is not finished yet,” Dizon added.

At the Freedom Park, Mr. Aquino announced before a sea of yellow-clad Liberal Party supporters that the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), which he chairs, had already approved the Samar Pacific Coastal Road project that will connect Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.

‘Abortion road’

The Neda also assured funding for the 220-kilometer Samar road rehabilitation project that is presently under construction, including the so-called “abortion road” in Eastern Samar, an unpaved highway filled with large potholes.

PAL Adds another 777 to Fleet

April 27, 2013

Philippine Airlines will take delivery of another Boeing 777-300ER (RP-C7773), the 5th triple seven to its fleet on April 30.

PAL Secures Approval for Mideast Flights

April 26, 2013

Philippine Airlines officially launched Friday new destinations to the Middle East as it flies Muscat in Oman on January 30 2014 four times weekly, and re-opens route network to Dammam 3 times weekly, Jeddah 4 times weekly, and Riyadh all in Saudi Arabia with daily flights beginning December 1 using a fleet of new generation A330-300.

PAL will soon be ending its code-share flights to the Gulf on the next winter schedule by introducing flights to Doha, Qatar and Dubai, UAE on November 1.

The airline recently announced addition of Kuala Lumpur on May 2, Darwin, Brisbane and Perth on June 1, Guangzhou on June 2 and Abu Dhabi on October 1.

FAA Audit Scheduled on May 2, EU Audit begins June 3 to 7

FAA, EU Air Safety Committee to Announce Results by end of June

April 25, 2013

EU Director  Matthew Baldwin

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has announced that US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and EU Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) audit in the country will begin in the next two months commencing May 2 for the FAA and June 3 for the US FAA.

Gen. William Hotchkiss III, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP), told reporters on Wednesday that he is confident on the positive results of the review based on their initial assessment of the reports in Brussels enough for the European Union to lift the ban on Philippine carriers.

French Inspector General Patrick Gandil
Hotchkiss was notified by EU Director for Air Aviation and International Transport Policy Matthew Baldwin in Brussels, Belgium when he met him in April 16. Baldwin is responsible for Aviation policy in the European Union. He was accompanied by Inspector General of the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) Patrick Gandil to whom he also made a courtesy visit.

France is helping the Philippines get out of the European Union airspace ban.

The EU's Director General for Mobility and Transport accepted CAAP invitation for the EU representative on Air Safety to stage an Audit to the Philippines on June 3 to 7. The on-site visit would coincide with the meeting of the EU Air Safety Committee in the last week of June in Belgium. 

"This committee is the one tasked to determine whether a country can be removed from the EU blacklist," Hotchkiss said.

Meanwhile, Hotchkiss said that The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is scheduled for on site audit visit starting May 2 to validate the ICAO findings.

The on site audit will be headed by the Manager for international programs and policy, John Barbagallo of the FAA Flight Standards Service who is personally coming to Manila. The FAA’s legal right to assess civil aviation oversight in specific countries under IASA stems from bilateral air safety agreements.

The Aquino administration is confident the results of the audit to be conducted by the US Federal Aviation Authority (US FAA) and the European Union within the next two months.

5J Bags 3,000 Seats to Australia

April 23, 2013

Philippine-based Low cost carrier has bag 3,052 seats per week to Australia as the negotiating government panel approves the confidential Memorandum of Agreement between Australia and the Philippines last week in Australia.

Cebu Pacific secured the rights after the Philippine negotiating panel headed by Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) awarded the additional seats to the airline while denying Zest Air application to fly the route.

The “air talks” negotiated on April 18-19 involves discussion and agreements on Australia's earlier commitment to grant an additional 3,000 seat entitlements per week to Philippine based airlines, and the nagging issue of fifth freedom rights between a point in Australia and New Zealand.

Philippine Airlines will fly Darwin to Perth, and Darwin to Brisbane but would likely asked the Philippine negotiators for beyond rights from either Sydney or Melbourne from the Australian authorities. There are no words yet on the fifth freedom rights.

Air Services Agreement with New Zealand requires designated airlines of the Philippines to operate three flights per week to either Auckland or Christchurch, via Darwin or an airport in South East Asia. 

Carmelo Arcilla, CAB executive director, said the two countries set another round of negotiations in Manila this July to resolve the remaining issue. No further details was disclosed.

"Both parties agreed to resolve first the outstanding issue," Arcilla said, referring to the mechanics of the fifth freedom that Manila is proposing. 

Philippine Airlines uses only  3,700 seats to Australia and Cebu pacific was earlier granted 1,260 seat entitlements per week.

Arcilla said the remaining seat entitlements will be awarded to Cebu Pacific in July.

Currently there are about 4,500 weekly one-way seats in the market, which will grow to about 5,600 seats in Jul-2013 according to CAPA. This includes about 3,700 seats from Philippine Airlines (PAL), 1,200 seats from Qantas and 700 from Jetstar.

Australia to Philippines capacity by carrier (seats per week, one-way): 19-Sep-2011 to 6-Oct-2013

Cebu Pacific To Fly Melbourne

Uses Avalon Airport as it go International

April 22, 2013
Avalon Airport was granted International Airport status last year. It is the second busiest airport in Melbourne. Cebu Pacific is due to start incredibly densely packed A330 flights between the Philippines and Australia before the end of the year. Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings said Cebu Pacific is the airport's first international carrier.

A second international airport in Victoria is a step closer, following an agreement between Australia and the Philippines.

The memorandum of understanding will allow Australian and Philippine carriers to operate a daily international service between the Philippines and Avalon Airport.

In October last year, the federal government approved changes to Avalon's lease arrangement, allowing it to build an international terminal.

Avalon Airport's chief executive Justin Giddings says more infrastructure is needed for the airport to operate international services.

"There's different screening for international. You can't take liquids through for example. So there are some things that we do need to do," he said.

"But look, (it's) very exciting. It's one of our key goals to become international."

Mr Giddings is hoping the airport can secure agreements with other Asian countries.

"Some of them don't need those air rights decision because we have an open skies agreement with those countries. So they may be the first," he said.

"We're getting a lot closer than what we were 12 months ago."

Geelong Mayor Keith Fagg says the deal will provide a major boost for the city's economy.
"The spin-off benefits we believe for our whole economy and community will be significant, not only in trade in import-export business, but also tourism," he told ABC local radio.

"There are many areas we think this will have a positive impact on our economy." 

Mr Fagg says the next step will be to push for a rail link.

"The possibility of Avalon being a low cost international airport for Victoria is really exciting," he said.

"The more the traveller numbers come in through the airport, the more compelling case is for the rail link."

Cebu Pacific's A320 Hit Bird Strike in Tacloban

Cebu Pacific flight 5J-652 almost overshot the runway in Tacloban Airport as it struggled to abort take-off after ingesting a wild duck in one of its two engine while revving up at runway 36 for departure to Manila Friday morning. No one was reported injured in the incident that happen around 6:07. The plane was safely taxied to the tarmac for disembarkation procedures and inspection. All passengers affected were rebooked on another flight.

DOTC Upgrades 8 Domestic Airport for Night Flights

Airports in Butuan, Cotabato, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, Dipolog, Roxas, Ozamis, and Busuanga prepares for night flight operations.

By Lawrence Agcaoili 

April 20, 2013

The Aquino administration is set to upgrade the night landing operations in eight airports across the country by bidding out P434.5 million worth of contracts for the supply of communications equipment as well as meteorological instruments and power supply system.

In an invitation to bid, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) urged interested parties to participate in the open and transparent bidding for the upgrading of night landing operations in various airports.

The DOTC and CAAP said the country’s air transportation is becoming one of the major means of transportation for passengers and cargoes as indicated in the increased frequency of flights from the different airports.

“This situation shows positive growth in the country’s economy; however congestion of arriving and departing aircraft in Manila’s premier airport is a dilemma of the air transport sector and needs to be addressed by the DOTC and CAAP,” the agencies stated in the invitation to bid.

To solve the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the DOTC and CAAP agreed to upgrade the night landing operations of eight airports in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards & recommended practices (SARPs) of the United Nations.

The agencies intend to bid out contracts for the installation or upgrade of airfield lighting system as well as upgrade of communication and meteorological systems at the airports in Butuan, Cotabato, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, Dipolog, Roxas, Ozamis, and Busuanga.

The government is spending P159.6 million to upgrade the tower communications equipment in the eight airports through the acquisition of 14 VHF transmitter systems, 14 VHF receiver systems, seven VHF transceiver systems, seven voice communication switch systems, seven air traffic control console, four air traffic light gun, and eight voice logging systems.

A pre-bid conference would be held on May 6 while the schedule of the opening of bids is on June 5.
The agencies are also bidding out a P16 million contract for the supply, delivery, installation, training of meteorological instruments for the airports in Dipolog, Roxas, Ozamis, and Busuanga. The opening of bids is scheduled on June 6.

Likewise, the DOTC and CAAP are also inviting interested bidders to bid for a P258.9 million contract to upgrade the power supply systems at the airports in Busuanga, Cotabato, Dipolog, Ozamis, and Roxas. The opening of bids is scheduled on June 7.

The Philippines through the CAAP passed the audit conducted by ICAO of the United Nations from Feb. 18 to Feb. 22 resulting in the lifting of the remaining significant security concerns.

Spring Airlines Comes to Manila

April 19, 2013

Shanghai-based Low Cost Carrier Spring Airlines will launch daily A320 flights from Shanghai to Manila on the last week of April followed by flights to Kalibo in June 2013. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air fly this route.

China Eastern to fly Manila

 Eyes Manila-Shanghai route soon
By Cliff Harvey C. Venzon

April  18, 2013

SHANGHAI-BASED China Eastern Airlines Corp. has bagged a temporary permit to operate in the Philippines, an official of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said in a recent phone interview.

“We gave them the TOP (Temporary Operating Permit) last Thursday. It is good for one year,” CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said on Monday when asked about the status of the application the carrier filed in February.

“It (TOP) is as good as the FACP (Foreign Air Carriers Permit), it’s just that they (China Eastern) need to complete some documentation.”

An FACP is a permit given to foreign airlines to enable them to operate in the country. Like the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which is issued to local airlines, FACP is renewable every five years.

Mr. Arcilla, however, noted that China Eastern still needs to get a “technical permit” from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and an “airport slot” so that it could start operations.

Officials of China Eastern, which eyes operations in Manila, were not immediately available for comment.

Jose Angel A. Honrado, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he has not seen the carrier’s application for an slot at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“I have not seen their application. But the slot for peak hours is already full,” he said, referring to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. “They have to get flight schedule beyond those hours.”

A check with the CAAP’s Flight Operation Division showed that China Eastern has not applied for any permit.

If the carrier gets the CAAP permit and airport slot, China Eastern will join other China-based carriers already operating in the Philippines namely: Air China Ltd. and China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd.

China Eastern started operations in 1957, according to the company’s Web site.

In 1997, it became the first Chinese airline listed simultaneously in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets, it added.

As one of the three major airlines in mainland China, it operates in 50 overseas and 11 domestic hubs, the Web site showed.

The company also “holds controlling shares of over 24 subsidiaries including Shanghai Airlines, China Eastern Yunnan Airlines, China Cargo Airlines Co. Ltd and China United Airlines,” it said.

The company, which has “a fleet of more than 400 long-haul and short-haul aircraft with an average age of less than seven years,” serves “nearly 70 million travelers annually.”

Including the Chinese carriers, 39 foreign airlines were operating in the Philippine as of end-2012, CAB records showed. International passenger volume went up by 6.83% to 16.74 million last year from 15.67 million the year before, according to CAB records.

Sultan Pilots Own Plane to Manila

April 15, 2013

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (L) personally pilots the Airbus 340-200 plane (V8-BKH) from Bandar Seri Begawan to Manila International Airport arriving at 3:30pm Monday. Hassanal Bolkiah is in Manila for a two-day state visit. (NOEL CELIS /AFP/Getty Images)

Hawaiian Kisses Manila Goodbye

Ends flight August 1

April 11, 2013

After intense fare wars with Philippine Airlines (PAL),  Hawaiian Airlines (HAL) said today that it will stop flying to Manila effective August 1, 2013 due to poor sales. 

 "High fuel prices and low fares have plagued this particular route and while we have made several efforts to improve the economic performance of our Manila service, including adjusting our flight schedule to optimize connections and upgrading to newer A330 aircraft, we've concluded that the route will not be a commercial success," explained Peter Ingram, Hawaiian's chief commercial officer.
"I wished we were able to sustain the nonstop service but unfortunately we can't do it based on economic reality," said Ingram.

Hawaiian Airlines flight HA 455 will make its final trip from Honolulu to Manila on July 31, and HA 456 will make its final return from Manila to Honolulu on Aug. 1, 2013. The service, which operates four times per week, was inaugurated in April 2008.

"If you flew on our Manila flights, you might be surprised because people will say gosh, the flights are pretty full. The load factors weren't the challenge on this route, it was persistently low fares," Ingram added.
Hawaiian will continue to accept reservations for travel prior to the discontinuation date, provided all travel is completed by Aug. 1, 2013. It's not clear whether Hawaiian entered code share agreements with PAL after August 1.

The airline said that it's reservations department will make arrangements with other airlines serving Manila to accommodate customers who have ticketed reservations after August 1, and will be contacting affected passengers with new accommodations.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines intend to do 5 times weekly services to Honolulu effective August 1 using A330 aircraft. The airline recently said that they are finalizing deals with aircraft lessors for four new aircraft for immediate deployment to Hawaii, Australia, and Japan. PAL flies Hawaii three times a week using A340 aircraft.

Filipino-Americans are the largest ethnic minority group in Hawaii with nearly 200,000 local residents. Many have close family ties in the Philippines and are frequent travelers there. Most passengers have inter-island connections, majority of whom hails from Ilocos region to which PAL passengers connects easily due to its early morning arrival banks while HAL arrives late in the afternoon with few or no domestic connections immediately upon arrival to most Philippine destinations.

₱ 215 Million Roxas Airport Upgrade Set

DOTC Rolls 48 Million To Start Project

April 10, 2013

President Benigno S. Aquino III led the ceremonial groundbreaking for the upgrading of Roxas City Airport Wednesday to put the airport to international standards.

Airport upgrades includes expansion and improvement of the passenger terminal building (PTB) and the extension of the runway to conform to type 3C airport standards.

The two projects are part of a P215-million Roxas Airport Development project. The project components are:
  1. Runway Extension and Passenger Terminal Building Expansion        91,150,000.00
  2. Site Acquisition                                                                                          18,000,000.00
  3. Runway asphalt overlay                                                                            24,240.000.00
  4. Runway Lightning System                                                                        91,150,000.00
  5. Crash, Fire, Rescue Tender                                                                       ₱ 33,500,000.00
Currently two projects, with a combined approved budget for contract (ABC) of P48.1-million, were advertised for bidding on October 19, 2012 and were awarded to contractor MAC Builders on December 28, 2012. Other projects for the airport are all in various stages of procurement.

The PTB expansion project will increase the existing 875-sqm terminal’s size by 626 sqm, bringing up the total floor area to 1,511 sqm and bumping up its design capacity from 153,000 passengers per year to 291,000 passengers per year.

Roxas Airport registered a traffic of 217,552 passengers in 2012. 

The runway extension, on the other hand, will lengthen the runway from 1,890 m. to 2,010 m. The additional 120 meters is designed to insure operational safety of critical aircraft operating at the airport which is servicing regular A320 planes.

PAL to Fly Sao Paulo

The Ethiopian way?

April 6, 2013

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will fly Brazil's largest City says the Civil Aeronautics Board as their negotiating panel will fly to Sao Paulo on May 15 and 16 for the signing of the Air Services Agreement (ASA).

“We fly to Brazil next month, May 15 and 16 in Sao Paulo. Philippine Airlines representative is going with us,” CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said.

“We don't have existing air service agreement with Brazil so we must make the agreement first before our airlines can fly there,” Arcilla said.

“Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, so it is a potential growth market.” he added.

PAL president Ramon S. Ang said in October last year that the airline was preparing flight approvals to South America.

“The plan for Brazil as a route is in line with the company’s strategy to expand its international operations,” Ang was quoted as saying.

He did not say where and which way they will fly to South America as there is no aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing in current production that reaches Brazil direct.

A recent announcement by Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) to fly Manila was given by CAB as hint for a possible PAL stop-over in Addis Ababa with both airlines working on the terms of the code share arrangement to Sao Paulo. Ethiopian Airlines is scheduled to fly Sao Paulo on July 1 while ETH planned flight to Manila commences on June 18.

Arcilla said that if they can reach an agreement and there is no objections from other airlines then the Board will probably approve it.

The CAB spokesman said Addis Ababa sits in the middle between Sao Paulo and Manila and both airports can be reached comfortably by the new generation A330 to which PAL is expecting delivery this year. Other airports such as the middle east and Johannesburg were however accessible by the use of larger long-ranged aircraft such as Boeing 777s and 747's or the A340 which the airline intend to operate in Abu Dhabi starting October 1.

“That is entirely the airlines decision. We are out of it,” says Arcilla on the possible routes to Brazil.

Arcilla however stressed that Philippine Airlines has fifth freedom rights from Abu Dhabi or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and they might probably use that right onwards to Sao Paulo. The recent ASA granted the Philippines rights to carry passengers to South America and Africa except Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and United Kingdom.

The Philippines don't have fifth freedom rights from Johannesburg and Addis Ababa but that arrangement can be worked out by airline partners in subsequent negotiations, particularly Ethiopian.

PAL Senior Assistant Vice President for External Affairs Ma. Socorro P. Gonzaga previously said to the government negotiating panel that they are seeking air rights to Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, the Philippines biggest trading partner in the African region with a total trade volume of $218 million in 2011.

“Only Emirates Airlines fly to Brazil from Manila, while Singapore Airlines makes two stops in Singapore and Spain before heading to Brazil” says Brazilian Ambassador to Manila Jorge Fernandes.

In a report submitted to Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last year, the Board included Brazil as one of the 10 international growth markets for the local aviation sector.

“Brazil produces more visitors to the Philippines than any other South American country,” CAB said in its report.

Fernandes lamented that Filipinos don’t visit Brazil as much as Brazilians visit the Philippines.

He said that Brazil is open to Filipinos since they allow Filipino tourists to stay there for 90 days without a visa.

Brazil is the only South American market on the list with substantial number of passengers, which is topped by South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Fernandes said that his country is pursuing service agreement with the Philippines to establish a direct flight from Manila to Brazil.

Brazilians form the country's 10th-largest group of foreign residents.

Zest Air Bids MA-60 Goodbye as they become Air Asia

Turboprop routes axed

April 5, 2013
Busuanga, Masbate, Marinduque and Tablas will be delisted from the airlines route network effective May 11, 2013, after the airline's management was transferred to Air Asia Philippines (AAP) group, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Air Asia Berhad. Zest Air said that they will return the aircraft to the aircraft lessor in China. Landing slots for these aircraft will be replace by Airbus 320's for services to Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Zamboanga. The airline will introduce more A320s to the fleet ordered by AAP to be painted soon in Air Asia colours.

The Tent that closes a runway

And it closed!

April 5, 2013

Call it karma but Pagadian City airport is closed not because of busted runway lights or weather problems or operational situation by airlines, and not even the government can do something about it. 

Its owner has exercise acts of dominion preventing the government operator and its airline clients from using his land, and backed by a court order the airport operator was helpless to asked where the money go?

The answer happen to be in their noses when they failed pay the owners the land they took for runway expansion project derived from Third ADB airports plan.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) ordered the airports closure Thursday after its owners put up a tent in the middle of the runway to force the government to pay them rent for the continued use of their land.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) that was entrusted with the custody of the payments failed to issue comment saying they are still appealing the decision of the Regional Trial Court.

The Taug family was awarded P8 million in payments by the Regional Trial Court of Pagadian City for three hectares of land unlawfully deprive from them by the government for almost 13 years and demands for rentals in the meantime remained unanswered.

Cebu Pacific and Pal Express cancelled their respective flights to Pagadian from Manila and Cebu vice versa starting April 4 because of the obstruction. No clear date is made available for resumption of flights.

Cebu Pacific started transferring its passengers to nearby Ozamiz airport effective today, while PAL Express is re-booking their passengers to fly Ozamiz as well.

Paralyzed Airport

Police from the Aviation Security Group (ASG) was helpless in preventing the landowners from claiming back their land, while senior managers of Cebu Pacific tries to negotiate with the landowners on the use of the runway. Pagadian airport is close to the public until further notice. Photo courtesy of Jong Cadion

By Jong Cadion

“This is the only way that the national government will listen to our demand. We will only talk to [the] president [of] P-Noy because he is the only one that can answer our problem,” Bai Sominal Taug said.

“Our demand was already a long overdue and we had already won the case. This is the 3rd barricade we had established to reposition our propperty after the failure of payment as agreed in the negotiations during our first and the 2nd barricade, ” Bai Taug added.

Our demand is Php5 million pesos if they want to use the airports runway give us fifty percent cash of our demand and the other fifty percent will be paid on the agreement basis, she disclosed.

The land conflict between the Taug-Boto family and the DOTC was started on 1960’s after the portion of their land was used by the national government to be a runway of the newly renovated as International Standard Pagadian City Airport. Bi Taug said.

Airport Manager Jose Budiongan said that he made coordination to Manila office regarding the problem and for the meantime their only concerned is for the safety of the passengers they will temporarily stop the airport operations.

PAL signs Inflight Connectivity Deal with OnAir

April 4, 2012

Geneva, Switzerland,  – Philippine Airlines (PAL) has become OnAir’s Fiftieth Connectivity Customer.

PAL is the first airline from the Philippines to offer its passengers both GSM and Wi-Fi Internet, giving them the choice to call, text, tweet, email and surf the Internet as they fly across Philippine Airlines’ extensive network in Asia Pacific, Australasia and U.S.

PAL is expanding fast, growing its route network, as well as building up and renewing its fleet. A major pillar of its state-of-the-art passenger experience is inflight connectivity. After a thorough market evaluation, PAL selected OnAir’s joint GSM and Wi-Fi service, the first combined service flying since 2010.

“As a leading airline, it is clear we must enable our passengers to remain in touch during flights. It is an absolute requirement for today’s travellers in providing the very best service,” said Ramon Ang, President of Philippine Airlines. “The two most important criteria to us and for our passengers are to have a service that is global and of high quality wherever we fly, and a flexibility to suit the needs of all passengers.”

Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir will be retrofitted on Philippine Airlines’ Airbus A330-343 and Boeing B777-300ERs, starting next month, and the global GSM and Wi-Fi service is expected to be launched from mid-year.

“Passengers use of the inflight GSM and Wi-Fi networks mirrors behaviour on the ground, which is why having both is so important,” said Ian Dawkins, OnAir CEO. “When both GSM and Wi-Fi are available, over 80% of passengers use GSM. Simply turn on your phone or tablet and use it for calls, text messages, emails, updating Facebook and Twitter, as well as the Internet. No need to enter your credit card details because the costs are included in your mobile phone bill, as with international roaming. People typically use the Wi-Fi for business. It is more suitable for heavier email and Internet usage. We give passengers the choice.”

Philippine Airlines can provide consistent connectivity on all its flights because of OnAir’s unique coverage. It has regulatory approvals from over 90 countries, as well as roaming agreements with more than 350 mobile network operators. Also, OnAir uses Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband network, the only one designed specifically to provide worldwide satellite coverage.

SMC Establishes Cambodian Airline

PAL's first international subsidiary

Kith Meng, right, chairman of Royal Group, signs the deal with Ramon S. Ang, president and COO of San Miguel Corporation and Philippine Airlines. Image courtesy of Routes

April 3, 2013

San Miguel Corporation announces establishment of Cambodia Airlines in a joint venture agreement with the Royal Group of Cambodia.

Cambodia Airlines is a brand-new carrier that will fly domestic and international routes from Cambodia. It will be the second flag carrier in Cambodia to start operating.

"These are exciting times for the local aviation industry," Kith Meng, Chairman of the Royal Group said at the event.

Under the agreement, Kith Meng will have a 51-percent controlling share in the joint venture, while San Miguel Corporation will hold the remaining 49 percent stake.

"This joint venture is another strategic move in San Miguel's continuing diversification into fast-growing industries and economies," said San Miguel Corporation and Philippine Airlines chief operating officer and president Ramon S.Ang. 

"It is also a testimony of our commitment to make a difference in any business that we participate in--whether it be in the Philippines or internationally." Ang adds.

He said Philippine Airlines would bring in the expertise needed to build a world-class national carrier in Cambodia.

According to Royal Group CFO Mark Hanna, the airline will initially lease two Airbus A321s for international routes and two Bombadier Dash 8s for domestic flights.

Hanna said the airlines first international route would be from Phnom Penh to Manila, which will link up with Philippines Airlines flights going to the US, Canada and Australia.

Although routes had not yet been firmly decided upon, domestic flights could begin as early as June this year and international flights are expected to begin in October, he added.

Currently, besides the national flag carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air, there are 23 foreign airlines operating regular flights to Cambodia, according to the report of the state secretariat of civil aviation.  
The new airline is looking to capitalise on Cambodia's rapidly growing economy and air traffic numbers, as well as on the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region, which has plans for an integrated economic community by 2015.