EU Updates European Safety List, Cebu Pacific Removed from the List


The European Commission has updated for the 23rd time the European list of airlines subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union — better known as “the EU air safety list”. On the basis of safety information from various sources and hearings before the EU Air Safety Committee, the Commission decided to remove all airlines from Swaziland from the EU safety list. There is also positive news for the Philippines, where Cebu Pacific Air is allowed to operate to the EU, and for Kazakhstan, where national carrier Air Astana is allowed to increase the number of its flights to the EU.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for mobility and transport, said: “When countries do what it takes to ensure the safety of their aviation industry, it is important that the EU recognizes these efforts. The proof is the aviation safety progress we are witnessing in Africa. Swaziland is now the second country, after Mauritania, to be removed from the EU safety list. Promising progress was also noted in Zambia, Mozambique, Sudan, and Libya, as well as in the Philippines and Kazakhstan.”

The new list replaces and updates the previous one, adopted in December 2013, and can be consulted on the Commission’s website (1). As from today, the list can be easily consulted with a new online search tool (2).

In addition to the airlines from Swaziland, also Cebu Pacific Air from the Philippines was removed from the list. Following last year’s removal of Philippine Airlines from the safety list, this is seen as further proof of the gradual improvement in air safety in the Philippines. Kazakhstan’s Air Astana saw the restrictions lifted on the amount of flights it can operate since 2009 to the EU. All other Kazakh airlines remain banned until the Kazakh authorities have implemented a sustainable system to effectively oversee the safety of these carriers. Progress was noted in Libya, which will maintain its voluntary restrictions not to fly to the EU — which they have applied since the Libyan revolution — as well as in a number of other countries whose carriers are on the safety list, such as Sudan, Mozambique and Zambia. It is hoped that the continuation of this progress could lead to positive decisions in the future.

The Commission decision is based on the unanimous opinion of the EU Air Safety Committee, which met from 25 until 27 March 2014. The EU Air Safety Committee consists of aviation safety experts from the Commission, from each of the 28 Member States of the Union, as well as from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The Commission decision also received a positive opinion from the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Background information

The updated EU air safety list includes all airlines certified in 20 states, for a total of 294 airlines fully banned from EU skies: Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon (with the exception of 3 airlines which operate under restrictions and conditions), Indonesia (with the exception of 5 airlines), Kazakhstan (with the exception of one airline which operates under restrictions and conditions), Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mozambique, Nepal, Philippines (with the exception of two airlines), Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sudan and Zambia. The list also includes two individual airlines: Blue Wing Airlines from Suriname and Meridian Airways from Ghana, for an overall total of 296 airlines.

Additionally, the list includes 10 airlines subject to operational restrictions and thus allowed to operate into the EU under strict conditions: Air Astana from Kazakhstan, Afrijet, Gabon Airlines, and SN2AG from Gabon, Air Koryo from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Airlift International from Ghana, Air Service Comores from the Comoros, Iran Air from Iran, TAAG Angolan Airlines from Angola and Air Madagascar from Madagascar.

EU Lifts Ban on Cebu Pacific, Announcement on April 10

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.


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.


Cebu Pacific Awaits Good News, Now Every Juan Can Fly To EU!


MANILA, Philippines—The Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific Air is set be the second domestic carrier allowed by the European Union to fly to areas within its 28-member bloc after the Philippines was removed from a multi-year blacklist in 2013.

A delegation from Europe, led by EU Chargè d’ Affaires Julian Vassallo, will hold a joint press conference on Thursday with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei regarding an update on the EU air ban, CAAP deputy director general John Andrews confirmed on Tuesday.

Andrews stopped short of saying what the actual announcement would be but he said it was likely to be positive for Cebu Pacific, the country’s biggest budget airline and a unit of conglomerate JG Summit Holdings.

“I don’t think EU officials would be flying here if the announcement wasn’t going to be positive,” Andrews said in an interview on Tuesday. “That’s as far as I will go.”

Cebu Pacific spokesman Jorenz Tañada was also mum, saying the airline “had no official information” on what would be announced on Thursday.

Such confidentiality is not unusual in these situations involving multi-jurisdictional regulations.

CAAP last year also gave way to EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux to announce that a three-year EU air ban was lifted on July 12, 2013, and that Philippine Airlines would be allowed to operate flights to Europe once again. The result was the resumption of PAL’s direct flights between Manila and London soon after the ban was lifted.

Cebu Pacific, CAAP said earlier, had withdrawn its application to be allowed to fly to Europe, given that the decision was released weeks after one of the budget airline’s planes skidded off the Davao International Airport runway on June 2, 2013.

None of the passengers were hurt in the incident, later revealed to be caused by pilot error, but the move brought increased scrutiny to the industry’s safety practices.

Gokongwei told reporters in September last year that the airline still intended to submit an application to fly to Europe.

“We believe that we operate a robust safety system in our airline and we have complied with the various CAAP recommendations, particularly with regard to improving our pilot training,” Gokongwei said.

An EU ban lifting would open up new opportunities for Cebu Pacific, which already dominates rivals in the domestic market, as it seeks to widen its presence in the long-haul business.

The airline started this segment via flights to Dubai last October using long-range Airbus A330s acquired starting in 2013.

Cebu Pacific launched flights to Japan last month and, in the second semester of 2014, it may launch flights to Saudi Arabia and Australia, Gokongwei said in March.

Read more:
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Philippines to Benefit from EU-ASEAN Open Skies


MANILA, Philippines – The proposed “open skies” agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to result in higher standards of safety and regulation as well as more reasonable fares for airline passengers.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the ASEAN would have to first achieve a single aviation market as part of the ASEAN integration in 2015 before entering into a comprehensive air agreement with the EU.

“It is still a long way. This is still in its infancy stages. Immediate goal is to first achieve an ASEAN single aviation market. This should be achieved as part of ASEAN 2015,” abaya said.

According to Abaya, the proposed “open skies” between EU and ASEAN would translate to higher safety standards for airlines as well as cheaper fares for airline passengers.

“This will allow competition, higher standards of safety and regulation and more access to flights and more reasonable fares for our people,” he said.

Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the EU has been helping the Asean achieve a single aviation market through a project called the Asean Air Transport Integration Project (AATIP) that serves a venue for exchange of info on practices within ASEAN and the EU and capacity building for aviation authorities of ASEAN.


“The proposed EU-Asean comprehensive air transport agreement is a welcome development and is something to look forward to especially so, that the trend in aviation is connectivity and seamless travel. This is also a chance for our airlines to beef up their operations and compete in a bigger field,” Arcilla said.

EU to Release Decision on Cebu Pacific Ban by First Half of 2014



MANILA – The decision to lift the ban of the European Union on the Philippines’ second airline Cebu Pacific is expected to be released on the first half of this year, an EU official in the country said.

Julian Vassallo, political counselor of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, said the request for lifting of EU ban on Cebu Pacific is now being reviewed.

After the EU lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines last year and the company’s inaugural flight last November, the ban on the Gokongwei-owned company is now being reconsidered.

“We are happy now that people from both Europe and the Philippines can experience ease of travel with direct flights after more than a decade,” said Vassallo in an interview Friday at the EU office in RCBC building in Makati.

“We are currently helping Cebu Pacific get off the list of EU ban on airlines. I expect a decision on the first half of 2014,” said Vassallo.

He said reestablishing direct flights from the Manila to European destinations will strengthen the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Europe with the ease of flow of people from both sides.

Vassallo said the lifting of EU ban on the country’s airlines will also increase European visitors to the Philippines.

He said the biggest hurdle for many Europeans in going to the Philippines is the long hours of travel and transfers in regional hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Earlier, Philippine Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said there were 3,867,386 foreign tourists who arrived in the country from January to October 2013 – a double-digit gain of 11.19 percent compared to 3,478,285 over the same period in 2012.

The top ten tourists who visited the Philippines remain from the main source countries such as South Korea, US, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, and United Kingdom.


More European Routes Eyed

Source: LCS Marasigan, Business World Online

PAL logo1 download

AFTER announcing resumption of direct Manila-London flights starting Nov. 4, a top official of Philippine Airlines (PAL) said yesterday the flag carrier may fly to Amsterdam or Rome as its next European destination.

“Our most preferred destination for our next European destination is Amsterdam or Rome,” Ramon S. Ang, president and chief operating officer of airline operator PAL Holdings, Inc., told reporters in a briefing at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

In the briefing, PAL officially unveiled the Manila-Heathrow route. The flag carrier will fly directly to London using either Boeing 777-300ER or Airbus A340-300, Mr. Ang said.

The move comes after the European Union lifted in early July the ban it imposed on Philippine carriers in 2009 over safety concerns. In the press briefing announcing the lifting of the ban specifically on PAL, Mr. Ang had said that the carrier plans to fly to Amsterdam, London, Paris and Rome starting next quarter.

There is still no date for rolling out of the flights for the other new destinations. Mr. Ang said demand for the new routes is still being ascertained, saying: “[I]t (route choice) will depend on that.”

PAL aims to serve an estimated more than 664,000 Filipinos in Europe, Mr. Ang said.

“I’m delighted to celebrate a very concrete example of the growing ties between our two countries,” Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint, visiting Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said in the same briefing on “the reestablishment by Philippine Airlines of direct flights between Manila and London for the first time in over a decade.”

“I am confident that these flights will greatly enhance the relationship between the UK and the Philippines.”

PAL Holdings saw losses widen 32.9% to P499.847 million in the first quarter of its April-March fiscal year from P376.006 million a year ago, due to less passenger revenues. Its shares gained one centavo to close at P5.78 apiece yesterday. — L. C. S. Marasigan