THE Philippines and Italy have agreed to allow each other’s airlines to launch 14 flights a week to both countries, paving the way for local airlines to fly to the European country for the first time since 1994.
The agreement was the fruit of bilateral air talks held last week in Rome.
“We, the Philippines and Italy, agreed on 14 flights per week,” Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) director Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message.
The CAB, together with representatives from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), flew to Rome for air talks with their Italian counterparts on Sept. 3-4.
The country’s representatives were led by DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, while the Italian Air Panel was headed by Dr. M. Cristina Francolini of Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
The talks were conducted after the lifting last July 10 of the European Union ban on flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) from European airspace.
Both sides discussed and initialed the Philippines-Italy Air Services Agreement (ASA) and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) relating to the accord.
The new ASA allows Philippine air carriers to fly directly to Rome, Milan, Bergamo, and another point in Italy, and Italian airlines to fly directly to the Manila, Cebu, Clark and another point in the country.
Arcilla said the previous agreement was signed in 1969 and only allowed one flight per week between the two countries. PAL last flew to Italy in 1994.
“There are 170,000 Filipinos in Italy. Rome and Milan can also be a jump-off point for traffic between Southern Europe and the Philippines,” Arcilla noted.
PAL plans to mount flights to Rome and Milan starting early next year, Arcilla added.
The CAB will also hold air talks with Japan on Sept. 11-13, hoping the dialogue would lead to the lifting of a ban on Philippine carriers from flying into the Asian country.
Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net