‘No shortcut’ in aviation safety – US official

A favorable aviation safety audit results on CAAP will help boost Philippine tourist arrivals, especially from the US and EU markets

MANILA, Philippines – Lifting a safety-related restriction on Philippine airlines needs time and requires a lot of work, a US diplomat told local businessmen. 

Responding to questions on the US Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) Category 2 ranking of its peer industry regulator in the Philippines, visiting US Department of State Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez said the procedures needed to upgrade to Category 1 will be followed. 


“Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to meeting the upgrade from Category 2 to Category 1. What we can do is find ways to accelerate whatever needs to happen in order to make that upgrade possible,” he said at an event on Friday, February 22, organized by the Makati Business Club. 

Philippine carriers, including Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, are keen on the safety rating upgrade so they could mount new and additional flights to the US. 

The FAA gave the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) a failing mark back in 2008 due to two concerns the local regulator lacks the capability to implement global safety standards as it oversees local carriers. 

The issue was raised to Fernandez amid the ongoing safety audit of the CAAP by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). An ICAO group has started a new round of safety audits at CAAP since February 18. 

A favorable ICAO audit results may not only prompt FAA to allow Philippine carriers to expand or start their US operations, but also influence the European Union (EU) to follow suit.    

The EU blacklisted the Philippines from taking direct flights to any EU destinations denying the Philippine tourism industry to lure more tourists from the huge markets of the US and EU

Cooperation, collaboration

Fernandez stressed the need for better collaboration and cooperation between CAAP and FAA to fast-track the upgrade. 

“We have suggested that we intensify the discussion with the FAA. What we can do as the State Department is to bring the two agencies together from the Philippines and from the US. We’re prepared to facilitate,” he said.

Despite the short span of time left, Fernandez expressed his optimism about the country’s burgeoning tourism industry and the government’s initiative to attract more tourists.

“One of the interesting things in my visit here is the interest of the government to attract more tourists. It’s unbelievable, the beaches and attractions you have. You should get more US tourists here,” he said.

In 2012, over 4.3 million tourists visited the Philippines. The 2016 target of 10 million tourists is largely dependent on the Category 2 upgrade. – Lean Santos/Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.