UK to help PH overcome EU aviation ban
(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines - The United Kingdom wants to help the Philippines resolve pending issues with the European Union so Brussels will lift its ban on Philippines-based airlines, a British government official said.
On Tuesday, December 11, British Member of Parliament and State Minister for the Foreign Office Hugo Swire told Rappler he wants carriers, such as Philipine Airlines (PAL), to fly to London soon and boost tourism and trade relationship between the two countries.
"We want to work with the Philippine government to look at the outstanding issues that the EU has, and try to resolve them so we can get these flights up and running as quickly as we can," he said.
Swire had previously announced the signing of a bilateral air services agreement between the Philippines and UK that will, in the future, allow PAL to fly direct to London and other UK destinations.
However, the deal will have to overcome the hurdle of the EU, where the Philippine aviation sector remains blacklisted due to concerns regarding the ability of the aviation regulatory body to implement global safety standards.
UK wants to be part of PH growth
Swire noted that the British government wants to see Philippine airlines flying into the United Kingdom, but left it up to the airlines to figure out how many flights they will offer and whether to land at Gatwick Airport or the more congested Heathrow in London.
"We want to see direct flights from Manila into the UK. We have 250,000 Filipinos in the UK and plenty of people want to come back and forth," he said.
On top of that, "the Philippine government is trying to expand its tourism offers, and we'd like to be part of that growth," Swire added, while reminding the government and the aviation industry that "these air routes are conditional on all the boxes being ticked by the government as far as the EU is concerned."
The official also commended PAL for placing last August a $7 billion order for 54 Airbus aircraft -- the biggest ever deal struck by a local airline -- equipped with British-made Rolls Royce engines.
"That's plainly a good thing for our bilateral relations and for the UK economy," he said.
PH is key market for UK
Swire also said that the Philippines is one of the key markets that British businessmen should pay attention to, especially given the decline of the Eurozone.
"The Philippines is key. If you look at the growth levels, I think it's very, very positive", he explained, and mentioned the Aquino government's efforts in terms of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program and its "drive against corruption."
The British MP stressed that the UK has many lessons to offer the Philippines regarding PPPs.
"In London we have expertise second to none in terms of corporate governance, privatization, rules and regulations, banking and systems you need to do that".
The UK, Swire pointed out, has much experience in privatizing state companies and services after former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher privatized most of the public sector in the 1980s.
"We want the Philippines to learn from our knowledge and our mistakes," he said.
Swire said that the United Kingdom has "all the pillars in place to protect people's investments, and the Philippines needs to look at our model to be even more successful attracting the investment it needs for its PPP program." - Rappler.com