Airline urges gov’t to ask for more air rights, obey int’l safety rules

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Monday, October 15, 2012


FOR the Philippines to realize its goal of 10 million foreign tourists by 2016, the government should raise airline capacity and improve tourism support infrastructure, said a top official of an airline company.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing, told reporters over the weekend that about 15 million additional airline seats should be provided to hit the goal of 10 million foreign tourists by 2016.

Iyog said additional airline seats would require the government to review air entitlements with other countries.

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She said expanded air rights between countries would pave the way for airline expansion and growth in the number of tourist arrivals in the country.

“If we have limited air rights we cannot grow further,” said Iyog.

She said air talks were already completed for additional entitlements for the Philippines with Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Cebu Pacific requested for the rights, but these have yet to be awarded.

Long haul

The Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific wants to start its long-haul operations in 2013 to meet the needs of the growing overseas Filipino market.

Iyog declined to disclose Cebu Pacific’s long haul destinations. She said the airline is still in negotiations over flight entitlements.

She said the air talks are targeted at countries where there are large Filipino communities.

To accommodate the increase in tourists, the government will have to improve airports and other infrastructure, she said.

Iyog also asked the government to resolve “serious” safety issues in relation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgrade to “category 2” and the European Union’s decision to ban Philippine carriers to expand operations in the US and Europe.

Safety

If not resolved, Iyog said, these safety concern issues will continue to hurt budget airlines and prevent them from entering key international markets.

She cited Japan as an example of a growing market. She said if the safety issues remain unaddressed and pass an Icao audit, Philippine budget airlines cannot fly to Japan.

“We believe the government is also doing its best to address this issue, given that it has set growth targets for the industry,” she said.

Cebu Pacific recorded a 15-percent growth in international passengers during the first
half of this year. Its domestic market, on the other hand, grew by 18 percent.

Iyog said the airline is working closely with the regional offices of the tourism department to help boost domestic tourism.

At present, the airline is working with tourism officials in making Davao City as another hub for inter-island routes.

Cebu Pacific recently launched its new Davao routes flying to Butuan and Dipolog. It also launched the Tacloban-Iloilo route.

As for Cebu, Iyog said the airline will offer direct international connectivity
between Cebu and Kuala Lumpur starting Dec.8 and Cebu-Bangkok, starting Dec.9.

Cebu is the airline’s second largest hub after Manila. It offers 20 domestic and six international destinations.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 16, 2012.

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