Home » Aviation » PAL stresses urgent need for aviation industry upgrade

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) reiterated the need for an upgrade of the Philippine aviation industry’s status in order to improve services particularly to the United States.

The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (US FAA) found the Philippines an unsafe port of origin, downgrading the industry from Category 1 to Category 2 in January 2008. Countries under Category 1 comply with aviation safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Those in Category 2 do not.

The downgrade has hit PAL hard. PAL international cargo sales manager Jerry Calaluan told PortCalls it forced the airline to deploy new aircraft ordered specifically for the Philippines-US market to other routes. It was also losing potential revenues from the busy US West Coast market.

“We have had no advice from government on the status of their initiatives to reinstate the Philippines’ aviation industry status to Category 1 but we are hoping we could get it (done) immediately,” Calaluan, also the president of the Global Cargo Council, Inc, said.

The Philippines only began complying with requirements set out by the US FAA at the start of this year – a full year after the downgrade.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the agency created to help restore Category 1 status, is still beefing up infrastructure by constructing a new administration building and installing a computerized library.

Government expects to return to Category 1 status within the first quarter. The original schedule was April or May 2009 then moved again to end 2009 on account of the need to properly delineate the powers of the CAAP.

About P80 million has been earmarked for compliance. The funds will be used to, among others, boost manpower, including hiring new check pilots, controllers, and inspectors.

The CAAP aims to establish a regulatory framework for maintaining, enhancing and promoting domestic and international civil aviation, with particular emphasis on aviation safety and security.

The law covering CAAP also converts the Air Transportation Office into an autonomous body with quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers possessing corporate attributes.

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