Approved Manila-Singapore flights still unallocated to RP carriers

06/21/2010 - IT’S been a month since Singapore gave the Philippines additional flight entitlements, but the government has yet to allocate these to Philippine carriers.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the CAB was still studying how to distribute fairly the entitlements to Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Air Philippines.

“The number of entitlements being sought by the carriers exceeds the actual number granted [by Singapore], so we are holding hearings for the allocation,” Arcilla said in an interview.

He said the deliberations will determine which among the carriers would get as many entitlements as they sought in their applications. “We have to determine which carrier is better qualified, and which really needs as many entitlements as it asked for,” Arcilla said.

The amended air services (ASA) agreement with Singapore was sealed last month and produced 2,647 weekly seats for Philippine carriers.

Cebu Pacific, according to vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog, was asking for an additional 2,520 seats for its Manila-Singapore flights to enable it to add a twice-daily flight on top of its 25 weekly flights. “We have used up all our entitlements, while Air Philippines and Zest Air still have rights they have not used,” she said in a text message.

Zest Air, formerly Asian Spirit, has a pending application for two more daily flights to Singapore. “Our existing entitlements allow us to fly to Singapore five times a week. We applied for an additional two more so we can operate daily flights,” said the airline’s vice president for communications Butch Rodriguez.

Zest Air was supposed to start flights to Singapore early in the year but a delay in the delivery of their aircraft aborted the plan. Zest Air will use an Airbus A320 in its Manila-Singapore route. Rodriguez said Zest Air hopes that one of its aircraft delivered next month and another in October. “We intend to launch our Singapore flights by early November. We have 90 days to market the new destination,” Rodriguez said last week.

PAL said it will use its fair share to add more seats to its current four daily flights to Singapore.

The amended ASA between the two countries resulted in more than 13,000 seats a week between Manila and Singapore. For the Clark-Singapore route, a total of 20,000 seats are now available.

“There is really a demand for the Singapore route because the place is not only a tourist destination but also meant for business transactions or activities, and we also have overseas Filipino workers there,” Arcilla said.

The CAB is part of the Philippine air panel which negotiates for traffic rights with other countries. The other panel members include the Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, and representatives from the airline companies.

Since the start of the year, the Philippine air panel has forged air pacts with Bahrain and Turkey. Up next are China, Indonesia and Hong Kong. “There is no firm schedule yet but tentatively the next air talks will start in August,” Arcilla said.
(Business Mirror)

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