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PHL eyes more air talks

February 26, 2013 3:23pm
The Philippine Air Services Negotiating Panel is eyeing air talks with at least seven more nations as it aligns the Department of Tourism's (DOT) priorities to meet the government's tourist arrivals target, officials said Tuesday.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) deputy executive director Porvenir P. Porciuncula said they want to secure air talks with Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong in order to get seat agreements within the quarter.

"We are eyeing more talks this quarter in line with the Tourism plan," he told reporters at the sidelines of the Joint Foreign Chambers' Arangkada Forum: Realize the Potential! "But other than the three countries, we are also looking at Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Israel."

The group will meet this week to draw up a list of nations it wants to hold talks with, consulting with the DOT with its targeted market countries. 

Porciuncula said while the country wants to open up to more tourists, air talks will also help local carriers secure seats for landing in offshore markets.

He, however, noted challenges in securing seats overseas, like the  Category 2 status imposed on the Philippine since 2008 preventing Philippine airlines from expanding and mounting additional flights.

"But once we get upgraded to the Category 1 status, then our carriers will be able to service overseas markets," he noted, echoing the Department of Transportation and Communication's (DOTC) confidence after the recent five-day audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

At the forum, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said air agreements and international airports will push the country's tourism sector forward as he underscored the need for more air seats.

The Philippines has already used up about 90 percent of the seat entitlements with Korea, 65 percent with Hong Kong, and 97 percent with Malaysia.

The Philippine Air Services Negotiating Panel is composed of officials from DOT, DOTC, CAB, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as well as from the Clark International Airport Corp. and local carriers.

Last year, the air panel held talks with United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Singapore and South Korea.

The Aquino administration is pursuing air talks under its open skies policy. — KBK, GMA News
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