Home » Aviation » PAL, Airspeed Int'l ok with open skies

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) favors the open skies policy as long as it is based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity.

A 100% Filipino-owned international freight forwarding company, Airspeed International Corporation, is also for the policy, noting it will result in lower cost for cargo shippers.

For now though, PAL sees no immediate need for the policy considering foreign airlines have enough access to Philippine skies.

"Philippine Airlines would support an open skies policy but only if it is fair, reciprocal and would not unduly place local carriers at a disadvantage vis-à-vis foreign airlines," PAL senior assistant vice president for external affairs Ma. Socorro Gonzaga said during a hearing conducted by the House Transport Committee last week.

"What the country really needs are more investments in infrastructure, a stable peace and order situation, and positive image abroad to attract tourists," she said.

"It’s not the number of airline seats that is behind the lack of tourist interest in the Philippines but the country’s negative image abroad, specially in the area of peace and order and security."

Beginning with the Ramos administration, Gonzaga said the Philippines has been liberally granting entitlements to foreign airlines. She noted there are currently 47.4-million seats available to both foreign and local carriers but only 10.97 million seats or 23% of the total were actually used last year.

Of the 10.97-million passengers who came to the country via air in 2009, only 2.9 million were tourists.

The Department of Tourism is targeting 3.1 million tourists this year and six million by 2016, all of whom can be accommodated by available airline seats or entitlements, Gonzaga said.

Airspeed line

Meanwhile, Airspeed International vice president and general manager Mariz Regis said the policy will empower cargo shippers because they can demand lower prices as more space becomes available.

the moment, logistics and forwarding cost are high due to limited space offered by airlines," Regis told PortCalls. "With open skies, more airlines will come to the country, bring more cargoes and at the same time offer additional cargo space, resulting in lower cost."

Due to limited capacity offered by airlines, cargoes often take second fiddle to passengers particularly during peak season. During such times, Regis said, carriers normally deploy narrow-bodied aircraft to save on cost but this invariably means limited cargo capacity and higher cost for Philippine shippers.

The Aquino administration is trying to implement a "pocket" open skies policy (applicable only in certain airports) to spur tourism and long-term investments. Among areas being considered for the policy are Clark, Cebu, Davao and Manila.

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