Monday, May 09, 2011

Filipino carriers left out of Open Skies Policy

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 9, 2011) – The Philippines’ Civil Aeronautics Board on Monday issued the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Open Skies Policy (EO 29) which the Aquino government said would promote competition among airlines and, in the process, bring down the fare rates.

But Cebu Pacific (CEB) said there were proposals from various quarters to amend the IRR to ensure fairness.

“Cebu Pacific is naturally disappointed with the approved EO 29 (and) IRR, especially since we have expressed our concerns on reciprocity right from the start. Regrettably, none of CEB’s proposed amendments that would have produced fair competition and enshrined reciprocity into the IRR were adopted by the CAB,” the airline said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

It also reiterated its position for the benefit of the traveling public – “We strongly believe that the Philippine airspace is a valuable asset, and should be used to further the long-term interest of the nation through mutually beneficial air agreements; CEB can compete with foreign carriers if given a level playing field of equal and reciprocal traffic rights. This level playing field is vital for the continued viable existence of an airline which has invested billions of dollars in the Philippines, and employs thousands of Filipino workers and professionals.”

“With reciprocal open skies, CEB, as a homegrown Philippine flag carrier, will have the opportunity to offer its Filipino brand of service and trademark low fares to the Asia-Pacific region and the Overseas Filipino Workers employed in those countries. Sadly, the current IRR of EO 29 will deny that option,” CEB said.

But CEB assured the Aquino government that it would continue to cooperate and support tourism in the Philippines. “We would, however, like to assure the government of our continued cooperation, and full support of their objectives to boost tourism in the Philippines. Since the airline’s inception CEB has been significantly contributing to the country’s tourism development. This is evident in CEB’s yearly passenger growth,” It said.

“Despite the lack of reciprocity in the IRR, CEB remains hopeful that the CAB will hold faithful to its promise that they will revoke the air rights of foreign carriers with home countries that fail to give similar unlimited access to Philippine carriers to their skies."

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