‘No reciprocity’ in air deals hits Airphil Express


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Airphil Express, the budget airline arm of Philippine Airlines, was at the receiving end of alleged non-reciprocal bilateral air rights with South Korea

MANILA, Philippines – Airphil Express, the budget airline arm of Philippine Airlines, was at the receiving end of an alleged lack of reciprocity in bilateral rights required to mount flights between the Philippines and South Korea.

The Korean government denied Airphil’s request to resume its Manila-Incheon flights citing the regulatory ban imposed by US and EU reflecting their concern over the Philippine government’s ability to oversee safety and other aviation issues.

Airphil is the latest among Philippine carriers to complain against their inability to launch flights to foreign destinations whose governments turn down new applications.

Sans the safety concerns of counterpart governments, Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific had also complained about being unable to mount more flights to Narita in Japan.

Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongweihad slammed the non-reciprocal behaviors of these governments and had expressed to the Philippine government that airlines from these countries should be blocked from mounting flights here, too.

The Aquino government, however, has been adamant in pushing an open skies policy, or a liberalized regulatory environment, to attract foreign airlines to mount flights here. It said competition in the industry will increase tourist arrivals and trade, and provide lower fares to overseas Filipino workers.  
Recently, while Airphil’s application to mount tourist-heavy Manila-Incheon flights was denied, Civil Aviation Board (CAB) extended Korean carrier Jin Air’s permit to mount flights between Incheon and Kalibo, a jump-off point to Boracay island, a tourist haven.   

New permits

Airphil temporarily stopped servicing the route 6 years ago and wanted to resume it. It’s application is considered, however, is considered as a “new” one.

Just like the US Federal Aviation Administration’s and the European Union’s position in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Korea is also now putting on hold Philippine carriers’ applications for new and expanded flight operations until concerns over the technical, operational, human resources and financial capabilities of the regulator, the CAAP, addresses these.

“Those with existing flights to South Korea like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines are not prohibited by the South Korean government to fly there. It only covers those who are operating for the first time and they considered Airphil as a new operator because of the fact that they stopped operating,” said Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of Civil Aviation Board, which is the government body in charge of the commercial interests of the aviation industry.
Arcilla said they had wanted to meet with their counterparts in Korea in early February, but the meeting has yet to be scheduled.

“Airphil complained that there is no reciprocity and Filipino carriers are not given equal opportunity. We want to seek a dialogue with the South Korean government as soon as possible,” added Arcilla. – Rappler.com

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