No More PPP for Regional Airports


DVO Airport

The Duterte administration has scrapped the public-private partnership (PPP) of five regional airports according to National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). Both the Department of Transportation and Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) also confirmed the termination of the bidding process for the New Bohol (Panglao), Davao, Iloilo, Laguindingan and Bacolod airports.

“The government, through the implementing agencies, the DOTr and CAAP, decided that the projects would be implemented through other modes,” according to the official statement.

With the termination of the PPP process, NEDA Undersecretary for Investment Programming Rolando Tungpalan said the hard infrastructure would now be funded through general appropriations while other modes of financing and implementation would be considered for the operations and maintenance (O&M) component of the projects which will be decided on ‘later.’

Iloilo Airport

 

 

 

Gov’t Releases Development Plans For Six Airports


THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) has released development plans for the country’s six major airports in a bid to further unlock their potentials for tourism.

Worth an initial P26.1 billion, the plans involve six major airports and are also covered in public-private partnerships (PPP). These facilities are the Puerto Princesa International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod-Silay International Airport, Davao International Airport, Laguindingan International Airport, and the New Bohol Airport.

These were revealed by Engineer Rafael S. Lavides, Division Chief of the Air Transport Planning Staff Department of the DoTC, during the hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Tourism in the Senate on Tuesday.

An initial P5.8 billion have been earmarked for initial investments in the Puerto Princesa International airport for the construction of new facilities, which include the development of its 2,600m x 45m runway and the expansion of the passenger terminal building, both of which are slated for completion in 2017.

The phase 1 of the development of the Iloilo International Airport, considered as the 5th busiest airport, will have an investment of P4 billion. The project development includes the expansion of the 13,700 sq. m. passenger terminal building to as much as five times of its original size.

Image Source: Simon Peter Tan

The Bacolod-Silay International Airport is also set to receive P3.6 billion for the phase 1 of the development and expansion of its runway and passenger terminal building; the Davao International Airport, P5.8 billion; Laguindingan International airport, P2.2 billion; and the New Bohol (Panglao) Airport, P4.5 billion.

Davao International Airport

The agency is eyeing to submit these plans to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee on the second quarter of this year, Mr. Lavides said.

For the Clark International Airport, Mr. Lavides said that the construction of a new terminal is under study and plans will be submitted to the NEDA ICC by the first quarter of this year.

Laguindingan Airport

Other key secondary airports, which include the Tuguegarao Airport, Roxas Airport, Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod International Airport, Surigao Airport, Butuan Airport, Ozamis Airport, Zamboanga International Airport, General Santos International Airport, and the Sanga-Sanga airport will also receive a total of P6 billion for their development.

Approximately P20 billion has also been earmarked for expansion and modernization projects for the Laoag International Airport, Naga Airport, Bicol International Airport, Tacloban Airport, Siargao Airport, Caticlan International Airport, Kalibo International Airport, Busuanga Airport and the San Vicente Airport.
Source: Alden M. Monzon, http://www.bworldonline.com

DOTC Rolls Out P116.2-B Bundled Contract For 6 Airports


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) started yesterday the search for a concessionaire to develop at the same time operate and maintain six provincial airports in a contract worth P116.2 billion.

In an invitation to prequalify and bid, the DOTC through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) invited prospective bidders to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain the Bacolod-Silay, Davao, Iloilo, Laguin-dingan, New Bohol (Panglao), and Puerto Princesa airports.

The biggest project is the P40.57-billion contract to improve the services and enhance the airside and landside facilities at the Davao international airport followed by the P30.4-billion contract for the Iloilo international airport.

Other projects are the Bacolod – Silay international airport worth P20.26 billion, the Laguindingan airport, P14.62 billion; Puerto Princesa airport, P5.81 billion; and New Bohol (Panglao) airport, P4.57 billion.

The DOTC said the 30-year concession contract would be awarded through a competitive bidding following the rules and procedures prescribed under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

The DOTC is set to apply the two-stage/two-envelope system for soliciting bids under the BOT Law.

The private sector concessionaire for the Bacolod-Silay, Davao, Iloilo, and Laguindingan airports would take over the operations and maintenance; undertake immediate expansion of the passenger terminal buildings, apron, other airside and landside facilities; and any capacity augmentation to cater to future demand throughout the contractual term.

Likewise, the private proponent would also take over the operations and maintenance of the New Bohol (Panglao) and Puerto Princesa airports.

The DOTC pointed out that the traffic at the six provincial airports has either exceeded or is nearing their design capacity levels making the fast and proactive development crucial.

Traffic at the Davao international airport has been growing at an annual rate of 10.56 percent over the past five years and handled 2.79 million passengers last year making it the third busiest airport in the Philippines after the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as the Mactan – Cebu international airport.

Volume of passenger at the Iloilo international airport has been growing at an average rate of 11 percent over the past five years to hit 1.82 million last year making it the fifth busiest airport in the country.

The Laguindingan airport is the sixth busiest airport in the country as volume increased averaged 15.1 percent to hit 1.78 million last year followed by the Puerto Princesa with an average increase of 22.8 percent to hit 1.33 million, and the Bacolod-Silay international airport with an average growth of 9.6 percent to reach 1.32 million last year.

The DOTC has tapped a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to put up the New Bohol airport in Panglao Island that would replace the Tagbilaran airport once completed in the middle of 2017.

Source: Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star

NAIA, Clark Among 8 Major PHL Airports To Be Privatized


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The government is set to bid out the operations and maintenance of eight major Philippine airports, including Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Clark International Airport, a Cabinet official revealed on Tuesday.

During the Philippine Economic Briefing in Pasay City, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya disclosed that the government will bid out the operations and maintenance component of the airports before President Benigno Aquino III’s term ends in 2016.
Aside from NAIA and Clark, the airports that will be up for privatization are:
  • Laguindingan Airport
  • Panglao Airport
  • Puerto Princesa Airport
  • Davao Airport
  • Iloilo Airport
  • Bacolod Airport

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has given the green light for the Laguindingan and Panglao, while feasibility studies are in the process for NAIA and Clark.

“In the next NEDA Board meeting, the four other [airports] are due for approval. We see no problem with that,” Abaya told reporters.
The operations and maintenance will be bid out separately and not bundled, he said.
Source: VS, GMA News

 

Airport PPP Projects To Be Auctioned Off


MANILA, Philippines–The government is looking at auctioning off several provincial airport public private partnership (PPP) deals later this year while authorizing the hiring of consultants to study the possibility of bidding out the country’s busiest airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao told reporters that the provincial airport  deals are for Laguindingan, Panglao (Bohol), Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Davao and Bacolod.

Puerto Princesa Airport
Puerto Princesa Airport

These would be a combination of operations and maintenance contracts with expansion components, depending on the need.

“We are looking at one bidding process but several packages,” Canilao said while adding they have yet to finalize how the airport projects would be bundled.

This was moving ahead of a the potential plan to auction out the operations of Naia, an aging gateway that handled about 32 million passengers last year. Naia has been facing congestion issues given its inability to keep up with rising demand for air travel.

The Department of Transportation and Communications is already reviewing a proposal to build a 2.3-kilometer parallel runway to complement the existing 3.4-km primary runway. This will allow Naia to accommodate more takeoff and landing events and ease air traffic congestion, which costs airlines an estimated P7 billion annually on top of delays for passengers. Any privatization of Naia’s operations is expected to draw significant private sector interest, which is why the government is exploring this option.

“The Naia O&M (operation and maintenance) and development plan is a different transaction,” Canilao said.

“DOTC has already asked PDMF support to hire consultants for that,” Canilao said, referring to the Project Development and Monitoring Facility.

PDMF is a revolving pool of funds from the Philippine and Australian governments to enhance investments in PPPs.

Canilao said the government is looking at auctioning off PPP deals recently approved by the National Economic and Development Authority, chaired by President Aquino. Among the more than $1 billion infrastructure deals that would be ready for bidding in the second half of 2014 include the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project (P24.4 billion), New Centennial Water Supply Source Project (P18.7 billion) and the Light Rail Transit Line 2 operations and maintenance contract.

Source: Miguel R. Camus, PDI

Creation of Davao International Airport Authority Sought


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DAVAO CITY—The local government here is pushing for the incorporation of the Davao International Airport (DIA) terminal fee in the airline-ticket cost to avoid further inconvenience during flight schedule.

It is requesting the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) to approve the scheme pending the approval in Congress of House Bill (HB) 6693, “An Act creating the Davao International Airport Authority Inc.”

Mylene Garcia-Albano, Davao City’s Second District representative and author of HB 6693, said the Caap is expected to undertake the control, management and supervision of the airport now that the Aquino administration has adopted the “open sky” policy.

Albano said the bill’s approval will pave the way for the creation of a board which will have full control of decision-making and budgeting. It will also have the power to levy and collect dues, charges, fees or assessments for the use of the airport, invest its idle funds and exercise police authority.

“Incorporating the terminal fee in the amount of the purchased ticket will make the process more efficient for both domestic and international travelers,” Councilor Leonardo Avila III, chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Communication, said.

Avila said this is already being practiced in the airports in Manila and Cebu which already have their own airport authorities. It is important that this is done here considering the number of passengers that pass through the Davao airport every day,” he said.

“There are 54 flights at the Davao International Airport on a daily basis and with only 200 passengers per flights that would mean 10,000 passengers lining up to pay their terminal fees at a single window every day,” Avila said.

The airport’s terminal fee is one of the major sources of income with the following collection rate: P227 million in 2010, P267 million in 2011 and P284 million in 2012.

Avila said the separate payment of terminal fees, which is being done at the Davao airport before the passenger leaves, has proven to be difficult not only for airport personnel but more important, for passengers.

Some passengers no longer have budget for the terminal fees after they have shopped and toured the city and its nearby attractions.

Source: PNA

EU Lifts Ban on Cebu Pacific, Announcement on April 10


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Photo Credit: Nikki Pili

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific of billionaire John Gokongwei Jr. is set to become the second local carrier allowed to fly to Europe.

Julian Vassallo, Chargè d’ Affaires of the European Union (EU), and officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are scheduled to announce in a press conference Thursday, April 10 the lifting of the EU ban on Cebu Pacific.

In July, the EU lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines (PAL), allowing the legacy carrier to fly to the 28-nation bloc again.

CAAP Director General Lt. Gen. William Hotchkiss III and CAAP Deputy Director General Capt. John Andrews will preside over the press conference Thursday. Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei is also expected to attend the event.

The EU blacklisted Philippine carriers in 2010 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) classified the Philippine aviation industry as “a significant safety concern.” CAAP failed to comply with safety standards that ICAO required.

ICAO scrapped this classification in March last year, prompting the EU to lift the ban on PAL. Jointly owned by tycoon Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, PAL started direct flights to London in November.

The EU however kept other local carriers on its blacklist, saying “progress [was] still needed to reach effective compliance.”

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said then that accidents involving Cebu Pacific planes showed some weaknesses.

DVO Ac

A Cebu Pacific plane carrying 165 passengers overshot the runway of the Davao International Airport in June last year. No one was hurt in the incident, but several passengers complained it took a while before they were ushered out of the aircraft. Nearly two weeks after, another Cebu Pacific plane figured in an accident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Cebu Pacific worked on addressing remaining safety concerns, and was supposed to seek the EU’s green light to fly to Europe in November. It postponed the plan to give way to rehabilitation efforts following the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

In January, Cebu Pacific informed the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the EU in Brussels that it already complied with all outstanding safety concerns.

Aside from the lifting of the EU ban, regulators are pursuing the upgrade of the Philippine aviation safety status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The US FAA downgraded the Philippines’ status to Category 2 from Category 1 in 2008 upon the recommendation of ICAO.

Category 2 prohibits Philippine carriers from mounting new and additional flights to the US. Airlines in Category 2 countries are also placed under heightened US FAA surveillance.

CAAP is confident an upgrade will be made soon. The US FAA is yet to release the results of an audit it conducted in March.

Source: Rappler.com

After Mactan-Cebu, Megawide Eyes 6 More Airport Projects


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The future of Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Cebu City , Philippines – Megawide Construction Corp., one of the most active local companies in the public-private partnership (PPP) scene, is joining more auctions for airport rehabilitation and operations.

The consortium of Megawide and Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure Ltd. will continue their partnership that recently bagged the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) deal, executives said.

Megawide chief financial officer Oliver Tan said the company is planning to join the bidding for six more airport PPP projects this year.

“The Philippines is the fastest growing economy in this region. Tourism is a growing business and considering that, it generally means that airport development is good in the Philippines,” said Manish Khalghatgi, vice president for corporate communications of GMR.

Khalghatgi said Megawide-GMR tandem is ready for more airport projects particularly in Visayas and Mindanao.

The government plans to roll out more PPP projects this year including the P15.92-billion operation and maintenance (O&M) of the Laguindingan airport, the P2.34-billion enhanced O&M of the new Bohol airport. It also listed the O&M of the Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Davao, and Bacolod airports as PPP projects.

The Megawide-GMR consortium last week received the formal award of the P17.5-billion MCIA project, the largest PPP offered to date.

Aside from airport projects, Megawide is also interested to be the contractor for the winning bidder of the P65-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 elevated railway extension to Cavite province, Tan said. Megawide is also preparing to join the bidding for the P35.6-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway project.

So far, Megawide has bagged four PPP projects: the P5.7-billion new Philippine Orthopedic Center, the MCIA, the PPP School Infrastructure Project Phase One (PSIP-1) and PSIP-2.

Despite numerous projects on its plate, Megawide is still prepared to pursue more infrastructure ventures.

“The airport is a collaboration with GRM and Megawide. We will have an entirely separate organizational structure,” Tan said.

Megawide also has manageable debt levels as available cash is larger than existing debts, Tan said.

For its part, GMR has the skill and the expertise for end-to-end airport projects that deal with financing, rehabilitation and operation, Khalghatgi said.

Megawide is one of the top contractors in the Philippines while GMR is the world’s third largest private airport developer in terms of passenger traffic.

Source: Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star)

Yearender, A Seesaw for Philippine Aviation


NAIA

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine aviation industry had its “ups and downs” in 2013 as local airlines, both full service and low cost carriers, eye and gear up for more long-haul destinations in 2014.

The year 2013 saw accidents involving several airlines resulting in the closure of international airports for days, several cancelled flights due to typhoons as well as congested airports, the suspension of the permit to fly of one airline, and the merger of two low cost carriers.

Aviation authorities in the Philippines also convinced the European Union to lift the ban that prevented local airlines from flying into the European airspace, paving the way for the launch of direct flights to London by national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) last Nov. 4.

Authorities also successfully negotiated with several countries new and expanded air service agreements (ASAs) allowing airlines to mount additional flights and servicing more passengers particularly overseas Filipino workers.

Accidents, flight delays and cancellations

Passengers had to deal with flight delays and cancellations this year due to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as bad weather catapulted by Super Typhoon Yolanda that battered several provinces in the Visayas last Nov. 8 and several accidents involving airlines.

CEBPAC

An aircraft of budget airline Cebu Air (Cebu Pacific) of taipan John Gokongwei skidded off the runway of the Davao International Airport last June 2 resulting to the closure of the international gateway for several days. Another aircraft of the low cost carrier damaged several landing lights at the NAIA a few days after.

On the other hand, an aircraft of Tiger Airways Philippines stalled on the end of the runway last Aug. 26 resulting in the suspension of operations of the Kalibo International Airport that serves as one of the gateways to the Island of Boracay for several hours.

Tigerair plane_2

Both Cebu Pacific and TigerAir got a slap on the wrist as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) only suspended the pilots of both airlines.

However, the CAAP suspended the Airline Operator’s Certificate (AOC) of Zest Airways Inc. of former Ambassador Alfredo Yao resulting to the grounding of from Aug. 16 to Aug. 19 due to six aviation safety concerns in violation of the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulation (PCAR).

Consolidation, mergers, new partners

This paved the way for the consolidation in the industry after Zest Air decided to team up with AirAsia Philippines Inc. to form a new brand known as AirAsia Zest that is now operating at the congested NAIA after the partly Malaysian-owned airline ended its operations at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

AirAsiaX

ZestAir entered into a strategic alliance agreement with AirAsia Philippines last March 11. Under the agreement, AirAsia Philippines would acquire an 85 percent economic interest and 49 percent voting rights in ZestAir as well as a 100 percent interest in Yao’s Asiawide Airways Inc.

The transaction was consummated last May 10, wherein Yao’s ZestAir got $16 million as well as 13 percent interest in AirAsia Philippines. After the transaction, AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia now owns 40 percent of AirAsia Philippines while Filipino investors led by Romero, Yao, Marianne Hontiveros and Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco Jr. control 60 percent.

All the shareholders of budget airline Zest Airways Inc. including AirAsia Inc. Philippines committed to infuse $100 million worth of investments to recover heavy losses and fund the merged airline’s working capital.

Michael Romero, chairman of AirAsia Zest, told The STAR that the rebranded airline is looking at a brighter 2014 after the successful tie up with ZestAir this year.

“2013 is a good year for AirAsia especially with its partnership with Ambassador Alfredo Yao that resulted to the birth of AirAsia Zest,” Romero said.

He added that the rebranded airline was able to mount new international destinations to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Miri, Macau, Shanghai and Incheon and at the same time expand its hubs in Cebu and Kalibo.

PAL, jointly owned by taipan Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., is on the lookout for a new partner as it is in the middle of a fleet modernization program with an end view of acquiring 100 new aircraft.

SMC, which infused $500 million for a 49 percent stake in the national flag carrier, is looking for a new partner that would take up the 51 percent interest of the Tan Group who is also into banking, beverage, property development, among others.

PAL has so far inked a $10 billion contract with the EADS Group for the delivery of 65 new Airbus aircraft.

PAL was able to fly back to Europe via London last Nov. 4 after the EU agreed to lift the ban last July 12 as aviation authorities were able to comply with the safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last February.

The application of Cebu Pacific to fly to European countries, on the other hand, would be reviewed by EU in March next year.

Gearing up for Europe, US

After successfully getting the ban lifted by the European Union, transportation and aviation authorities are confident that the ban imposed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) would be lifted early next year.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.

Aside from Europe, Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei earlier said the listed budget airline is also gearing up for long-haul flights to the US as it pursues its $4 billion refleeting program.

Gokongwei said Cebu Pacific is looking at mounting flights to the US particularly Guam and Hawaii once the country’s status is upgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) back to Category 1.

“For the US, there have been some pronouncements that Philippines expects to get out of Category 2 in the fourth quarter. At that point, we will probably look at certain routes in the US including Guam and Hawaii,” Gokongwei stressed.

The Cebu Pacific chief pointed out that the airline is in the middle of a $4 billion refleeting program. Between 2013 and 2021, Cebu Pacific is scheduled to take delivery of 15 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 A321neo, and four A330 aircraft.

Cebu Pacific was also able to service its 80 millionth passenger last November.

Both PAL and Cebu Pacific mounted flights to several countries in the Middle East including Dubai, Riyadh, Dammam, among others where several Filipinos are working and living.

Philippines is low cost carrier capital of the world

LCC
Image Source: Rappler.com

Earlier, Cebu Pacific general manager for long haul division Alex Reyes said the aviation industry in the Philippines could be likened to the capital intensive telecommunications sector.

“Just a few years ago, phones were considered luxury items, and very few people could afford to have them. Along came low-cost phones, and suddenly communication anywhere, anytime was in reach of every Juan. Text messages were so cheap that mobile phone subscribers preferred to text, rather than to call, because it was so cheap. At one point in time, the Philippines became the test messaging capital of the world,” Reyes explained.

Now, just like mobile phones which were once considered luxury items air travel is in reach of every “Juan” as low cost carriers (LCCs) are now dominating the aviation sector.

“Eight out of 10 seats on the domestic market are low-cost carrier seats. No other aviation market in the world has this kind of market share for LCCs. You can thus call the Philippines the LCC capital of the world,” he said.

Another low cost carrier, newly rebranded Tigerair, is also undertaking a massive re-fleeting program as it intends to beef up its existing fleet of five aircraft to 25 within the next three to five years.

TigerAir, a unit of Tiger Airlines, has an existing fleet of three Airbus A320s with a seating capacity of 180 and two A319s.

TigerAir president and chief executive officer Olive Ramos said the airline is excited about the prospects of the industry next year but stressed the need to promote the habit of travelling to Filipinos whether locally or internationally.

“I am very hopeful about next year. I am looking at a very exciting and vibrant year for the airline industry,” Ramos said.

More air agreements

 The Philippines through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) is looking at signing and expanding air service agreements (ASAs) with several countries next year after finalizing pacts with six countries this year.

The Philippines successfully concluded air talks with Israel, Japan, Italy, Macau, Brazil, and Australia this year.

President Aquino has signed Executive Order 29 authorizing the CAB and the Philippine air panels to pursue more aggressively the international civil aviation liberalization policy.

Volume of passengers travelling by air climbed 4.6 percent to 28.46 million in the first nine months of the year from 27.2 million in the same period last year. The number of domestic passengers was flat as it reached 15.42 million from January to September while the volume of international passengers posted a double-digit growth of 11.6 percent enough to 13.05 million.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the regular would start the ball rolling early next year as the Philippines is scheduled to hold air talks with France and Singapore in the first quarter.

Source: After successfully getting the ban lifted by the European Union, transportation and aviation authorities are confident that the ban imposed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) would be lifted early next year.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.

Aside from Europe, Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei earlier said the listed budget airline is also gearing up for long-haul flights to the US as it pursues its $4 billion refleeting program.

Gokongwei said Cebu Pacific is looking at mounting flights to the US particularly Guam and Hawaii once the country’s status is upgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) back to Category 1.

“For the US, there have been some pronouncements that Philippines expects to get out of Category 2 in the fourth quarter. At that point, we will probably look at certain routes in the US including Guam and Hawaii,” Gokongwei stressed.

The Cebu Pacific chief pointed out that the airline is in the middle of a $4 billion refleeting program. Between 2013 and 2021, Cebu Pacific is scheduled to take delivery of 15 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 A321neo, and four A330 aircraft.

Cebu Pacific was also able to service its 80 millionth passenger last November.

Both PAL and Cebu Pacific mounted flights to several countries in the Middle East including Dubai, Riyadh, Dammam, among others where several Filipinos are working and living.

Phl is low cost carrier capital of the world

 Earlier, Cebu Pacific general manager for long haul division Alex Reyes said the aviation industry in the Philippines could be likened to the capital intensive telecommunications sector.

“Just a few years ago, phones were considered luxury items, and very few people could afford to have them. Along came low-cost phones, and suddenly communication anywhere, anytime was in reach of every Juan. Text messages were so cheap that mobile phone subscribers preferred to text, rather than to call, because it was so cheap. At one point in time, the Philippines became the test messaging capital of the world,” Reyes explained.

Now, just like mobile phones which were once considered luxury items air travel is in reach of every “Juan” as low cost carriers (LCCs) are now dominating the aviation sector.

“Eight out of 10 seats on the domestic market are low-cost carrier seats. No other aviation market in the world has this kind of market share for LCCs. You can thus call the Philippines the LCC capital of the world,” he said.

Another low cost carrier, newly rebranded Tigerair, is also undertaking a massive re-fleeting program as it intends to beef up its existing fleet of five aircraft to 25 within the next three to five years.

TigerAir, a unit of Tiger Airlines, has an existing fleet of three Airbus A320s with a seating capacity of 180 and two A319s.

TigerAir president and chief executive officer Olive Ramos said the airline is excited about the prospects of the industry next year but stressed the need to promote the habit of travelling to Filipinos whether locally or internationally.

“I am very hopeful about next year. I am looking at a very exciting and vibrant year for the airline industry,” Ramos said.

More air agreements

 The Philippines through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) is looking at signing and expanding air service agreements (ASAs) with several countries next year after finalizing pacts with six countries this year.

The Philippines successfully concluded air talks with Israel, Japan, Italy, Macau, Brazil, and Australia this year.

President Aquino has signed Executive Order 29 authorizing the CAB and the Philippine air panels to pursue more aggressively the international civil aviation liberalization policy.

Volume of passengers travelling by air climbed 4.6 percent to 28.46 million in the first nine months of the year from 27.2 million in the same period last year. The number of domestic passengers was flat as it reached 15.42 million from January to September while the volume of international passengers posted a double-digit growth of 11.6 percent enough to 13.05 million.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the regular would start the ball rolling early next year as the Philippines is scheduled to hold air talks with France and Singapore in the first quarter.

Source:Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star