BACOLOD

Binay: Europe interested in opening airspace for Philippine carriers

MANILA -- Philippine air carriers can resume operations in Europe if the government will resolve safety issues in the country's airports, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Friday, following his recent meeting with an official of the European Commission in Belgium.

Binay said that according to EC Vice President and Commissioner for Transport Siik Kallas, EU's main issue with the Philippines was "maintaining the professionalism and regularity of air safety inspections."

"I informed the commissioner that the Philippines had sought technical assistance from the French government to improve air safety standards, and that Philippine Airlines, which is now under new management, had just ordered 54 Airbus aircraft in line with its re-fleeting program," Binay said.

The EC banned Philippine carriers from operating in all 27 member-states of the EU in March 2010 after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) failed to address the lack of modern equipment and technical personnel.

Binay, however, assured Kallas that the government was already in the process of plugging leaks in the country's air safety standards. The ban actually applies to both EU and non-EU carriers as long as they fail to meet necessary regulations.

There has been no commercial flight by Philippine-registered carriers to Europe since 1999, making it hard for the country to attract visitors from that continent.

At end-June, the Philippines' ninth largest foreign visitors were from the United Kingdom with 57,181 arrivals according to the Department of Tourism. UK is the only EU member which made it to the top 10. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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