IT is difficult to place in proper perspective the reason of the European Union (EU) for refusing to remove the Philippines from its list countries whose airlines are banned from flying to the continent.
EU believes that the Philippines lacks substantial industry-wide reforms in its local aviation sector. But according to the Philippines Airlines, it has been able to convince EU officials that our country’s airline is operating under international standards of safety.
The ban, it seems, stemmed from an audit undertaken by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which pointed to an utter lack of professionalism within the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). CAAP is tasked to see to it that local airlines are truly safe for travel.
This perception by the EU, I understand, is gravely affecting PAL’s plans for business expansion, such as flying to Europe again. I recall some years back that PAL used to have flights to some cities in Europe, such as Rome, Paris and London and making stops in Bombay and a Middle Eastern city.
I do not really know when PAL ceased to fly to Europe. But there was a time in the past when our republic’s economy floundered, and it became necessary for PAL to drop some of its ports of call. In fact, it even dropped scheduled flights to some domestic routes.
But the local airlines appear to be recovering now. In fact, PAL seems to be turning over to a sister airline part of its domestic coverage in preparation for the expansion of its international flight coverage.
I was with a coffee shop group recently in an uptown mall when travel became a topic. Somebody asked why PAL has not exerted efforts to have a flight to Spain considering our close cultural ties with it. In fact, according to my youngest sister, Lorna, who married a Swedish transportation system consultant, Filipinos are highly regarded there.
My sister and her husband, Arne Hansson, are residing in Javea, southern Spain. They bought a house in Javea and have been living there for almost ten years now. One of my nieces, Sherrie, daughter of my other sister, Delia, joined Lorna some three years ago and is now working in Madrid. She was a Jollie Bee supervisor here when she decided to venture to Spain.
At any rate, I hope PAL’s initially flying to Spain will reopen our ties with the continent and force the hand of the EU to take the Philippines back to its fold as a nation that can be trusted to serve the travel needs of the continent.