Source: GMA News Online
Cebu Air Inc., operator of budget carrier Cebu Pacific, is urging the Aquino administration to forge an open skies policy with Japan as a way of boosting trade and tourism and reverse a decline in Japanese tourists to the Philippines.
An open skies agreement between the bilateral partners should be tackled in the upcoming air talks with Japan under the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), a Cebu Pacific official said.
“An Open Skies agreement with Japan will benefit local tourism and trade, especially since we believe Japan can rival South Korea when it comes to foreign tourist arrivals,” vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog noted in a statement Wednesday.
In a position paper filed with the Philippine Air Consultation Panel, the Cebu Pacific said carriers from the Philippines would not be able to mount additional flights to other countries including Japan in the absence of seat entitlements as Philippine authorities struggle to increase capacity at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Seat entitlements must be given by other countries like Japan so airlines can increase flights or add international destinations, according to the budget airline.
An open skies deal with Japan would let Cebu Pacific to expand its Japan operations beyond the thrice weekly Manila-to-Osaka flights. “Cebu Pacific plans to aggressively expand into Japan in the future. We fully support the CAB in its efforts to further boost tourism and the Philippine aviation industry,” Iyog said.
Japan could dislodge Korea as a major source of tourists for the Philippines, the airline official noted.
Official data showed a 2 percent compounded drop in tourist arrivals from Japan in 2006 to 2011, primarily in the absence of new seat entitlements.
“Aside from Japan being one of the Philippines’ biggest trading partners, it is also home to 350,000 global Filipinos. Cebu Pacific’s expansion in Japan will allow us to offer our trademark lowest fares to the Philippines to boost business and leisure traffic,” Iyog said..
Japan, once one of the most protective aviation sectors in the world, has signed Open Skies agreements with countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, France, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, US, Canada, and Mexico.
CAB Deputy Executive Director Porvenir Porciuncula told reporters Wednesday the PHL-Japan Air Consultation Talks is scheduled for Sept. 11 to 13 in Tokyo.
The Philippine panel hopes to secure additional seat entitlements for Philippine carriers to mount additional flights to Japan, Porciuncula said.
The Philippines and Japan last held air talks in 2008. — VS, GMA News