Home » Aviation » Aviation industry says it’s time for recovery

THE Philippine aviation industry is gearing up for recovery this year after a dismal 2003.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Economic Planning and Research chief Porvenir Porciuncula said the start of the year has already yielded positive signals. “There are issues like the bird flu but overall I think this is the best time to recoup last year’s losses. This is also the perfect opportunity to start expanding and reviving suspended operations,” he said.

Last year, the industry went through a particularly rough patch, with airlines canceling services as a result of depressed travel figures due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and effects of the US-Iraq war. This year, Porciuncula said some airline companies are already showing interest in setting up shop in the Philippines – a clear indication of expected growth. He said the recent opening up of Clark and Subic to foreign air cargo carriers via the open skies cargo policy can only help boost the industry. “We already have UPS in Clark. As more carriers come in, Clark’s operation will be more attractive to investors,” he explained. However, he admitted little benefit will accrue to the local aviation industry as few Philippine-flagged carriers can compete with international carriers to begin with.

One issue weighing heavily on the industry’s head is the result of the coming national elections. “If the elections turn out well, the next half of the year will show positive improvement. Otherwise, it will be just another 2003,” Porciuncula said.

Also expected to affect industry performance are security costs and fuel price. The CAB official said oil prices are starting to shoot up again because of the peso fluctuation “when in fact, it should have stabilized since the war in the Middle East has long been discounted by the business community.” This year, the aviation industry is also expecting more security policies from the US and eventually from other countries not only in the area of cargo but also of passage.

For 2004, CAB will prioritize the computerization of its database, and “the interest of our carriers during air talks. We will target countries which are sure to offer benefits to our carriers,” Porciuncula said.

Lined up for the first half of the year are negotiations with China, India, Japan, Italy and some countries in Europe.

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