The Philippines is eyeing air talks with as many as six countries in the first half of 2015 to support the growth of the country’s trade and tourism sectors.
According to Civil Aeronautics Board Carmelo Arcilla, the country hopes to engage Australia, Singapore, Russia, Turkey, Taiwan and Qatar in negotiations through the second quarter of 2015.
Following an air panel meeting on Monday, Arcilla said there was still no decision on potentially controversial air talks with the United Arab Emirates, likely to be contested by domestic carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.
He noted that air talks with Singapore would take place on Feb. 12, to be followed by talks with Taiwan in March.
“There is a lot of demand for Singapore, and airlines are fully utilizing our entitlements,” Arcilla said. He noted that Philippine carriers are operating about 17,000 seats a week to Singapore.
“We want to expand opportunities. There is a provision in the agreement that allows stopover rights, meaning Singapore carriers can fly to Cebu and onwards to Davao, for example,” he said, pointing to opportunities brought on by the rise in traffic rights.
In March this year, the country hopes to start negotiations with Australia, which is an expansion target of some domestic carriers, Arcilla said.
There are about about 390,000 Filipinos in Australia, based on 2012 data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
Air talks between the Philippines and Australia were last held in 2013. At the time, both countries failed to reach an agreement due to “outstanding issues,” which included the so-called fifth freedom rights.
Arcilla said air negotiations with Russia, Turkey and Qatar were being planned for the second quarter of the year.