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Philippines adopts implementing rules on open skies policy

05-06-2011 16:55 BJT

MANILA, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) on Friday formally adopted the final implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the Executive Order 29, which will liberalize the country's airline industry.

Under the IRR, the local air panels may offer and promote third, fourth or fifth freedom traffic rights to foreign carriers without restrictions on frequency, capacity and type of aircraft and other arrangements to and from any of Philippines' secondary gateway, that will serve national interest.

"The purpose of EO 29 is to attract operators and encourage direct services to our developmental routes," CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said in Friday's press briefing.

"EO 29 is a developmental tool intended to attract foreign airlines to operate to our secondary gateways, which are largely underserved or totally unserved by international airlines, foreign or local," Arcilla said.

Having a third freedom right means that a foreign airline registered in the Philippines can carry passengers from the Philippines to another country. A fourth freedom right allows a foreign airline registered in Philippines to bring back passengers from another country.

A fifth freedom is the right granted by one State to another State to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third country. This means the right of a carrier registered in country A can fly to country C, drop off and pick up passengers, and continue on to country B.

Local airlines opposed the policy saying that this will hurt them.

"We welcome the fact that the government recognizes the need for reciprocity in air rights negotiations. However, what is in the 'national interest' may be susceptible to varying interpretations," Cielo Villaluna said in a text message to Xinhua.

But Arcilla said specific safety nets have been provided to protect local airlines.

"Consistent with existing laws, the IRR authorizes the CAB to restrict, suspend, or revoke any air traffic rights granted under EO 29 if the home state of the benefitting foreign airline fails to extend equal or similar opportunities to our local airlines applying for equal or similar rights who are capable of operating such services," he said.

The IRR mandates the Philippine air panels to hold consultation talks with the foreign airlines' respective state of registry to possibly grant reciprocal rights to Philippine carriers.

But while mandatory, the IRR provides leeway to CAB to still grant freedom rights to foreign carriers even if not reciprocally given in "the interest of national interest or mutual benefits."


Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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