Philippines, Sri Lanka close air deal

Posted on July 20, 2011

THE PHILIPPINES and Sri Lanka have agreed to increase the number of allowed flights between their capitals, with the latter granted unlimited air service rights to international airports outside Metro Manila besides, Civil Aeronautics Board Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla told reporters via text on Tuesday.

This latest pact made Sri Lanka the second country after Malaysia to benefit from the “pocket open skies” policy adopted by the Aquino administration last March.

Mr. Arcilla said both parties agreed to double entitlements to four flights a week on the Manila-Colombo route.

He added that Sri Lanka has also been granted “unlimited flights [sic] to all other points in the Philippines except Manila.”

Sri Lankan carriers can also land in the Philippines, en route to Bangkok, Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur before returning to their home country, Mr. Arcilla said.

While noting that “there are no operators on the said routes as of today,” Mr. Arcilla said “the new agreement is expected to provide more viability to any service that the respective airlines of both countries may plan and operate in the future.”

The air service talks, which Sri Lanka requested, were held in Manila from July 18 to yesterday, Mr. Arcilla said by phone.

He added that air service talks with Papua New Guinea are expected in August, while those with Vietnam are planned for September.

The negotiations with Sri Lanka were the third such talks under the “pocket open skies” policy, following Malaysia and Indonesia.

Earlier this month, Mr. Arcilla said that Manila will hold a second round of negotiations with Indonesia, after two days of talks last June 30-July 1.

Last June 8, the country closed a new air service deal with Malaysia. Besides agreeing to a reciprocal increase in flights between Manila and Kuala Lumpur, those talks resulted in unlimited flight rights for Malaysian carriers to international airports outside Metro Manila. -- Kathleen A. Martin