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Air talks with Taiwan planned for November

Posted on September 22, 2011

AIR TALKS with Taiwan have been proposed by the Philippines under the Aquino administration’s “pocket open skies” policy, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) yesterday said.

The government, said CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla, sees Taiwan as a “big tourism market.”

“Our next air talks will be with Taiwan ... we have scheduled [the talks] for November, but this is still not yet final,” Mr. Arcilla told BusinessWorld.

“Taiwan is one of our big tourism markets ... we still see a lot of expansion for this market,” he added.

Tourism department data show that of the 1.91 million visitor arrivals during the first half of the year, a little over 4% or 84,979 were from Taiwan. This was enough to put the country in the top five list.

“We are looking at marketing the Kalibo route, as we have found out that there are many Taiwanese visiting that area,” Mr. Arcilla said.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines and budget carrier Cebu Pacific currently stage daily flights from Manila to Taipei.

“We are using most of our entitlements from Manila. The maximum [for PAL] is 4,800 seats per week,” Cielo A. Villaluna, PAL spokesperson, said in a text message yesterday.

Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing and distribution, said in a separate text message: “We fly to Taipei daily ... from Manila. We use our A320, which is a 180-seater aircraft.”

Both officials held off from saying whether their airlines would be interested in applying for additional seats to Taiwan.

The Philippines has successfully concluded air talks with Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Malaysia under the pocket open skies policy, which allows the grant of additional rights to facilities not including the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Negotiations with Indonesia have not been fruitful and a second round of talks is expected to be held.

Mr. Arcilla said the Philippines was also readying for air talks with Hong Kong and Japan.

“We are just waiting for responses,” he said.

Executive Order 29, signed by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on March 14, authorized the CAB and negotiators to “pursue more aggressively the international civil aviation liberalization policy” with respect to airports outside Metro Manila.