Cheaper air fares in ASEAN seen as PH signs protocols

Chrisee Dela Paz
Cheaper air fares in ASEAN seen as PH signs protocols
The Philippines signs the so-called 5th and 6th freedoms of the air, allowing broader flight options within the region

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is now ready for more liberalized air traffic after President Benigno Aquino III agreed to uphold the so-called 5th and 6th freedoms of the air, bringing better connectivity to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members.

The transportation department said on Sunday, February 7, that Aquino on February 3 signed Protocols 5 and 6 of the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on Air Services (MAAS), allowing broader flight options and improving air connections within the region.

Under Protocols 5 and 6, Philippine air carriers will be allowed to fly unlimited frequencies to and beyond the capital cities of other ASEAN nations, leading to better connectivity and more competitive fares and services.

“This will enhance regional trade and investment opportunities for Philippine businesses that are looking to expand their markets,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a statement.

“It will also provide better access to Filipino individuals, such as professionals and students, who wish to explore job and educational opportunities in the ASEAN region,” he added.

Higher tourist arrivals

With the signing of the 5th and 6th freedoms of the air, the Philippine government expects the local tourism and service industries to benefit the most from the inked deal.

“We expect it to benefit our local tourism and service industries, as the agreement allows foreign airlines to increase their flights to Manila and other cities as well,” the transportation chief said.

“Just as it will encourage more visitors to come to the country, Filipinos will also enjoy a wider array of flight options and ticket prices to the rest of the ASEAN,” Abaya added.

Increased competition, lower air fares

The transportation department and the Civil Aeronautics Board said they will now assist Philippine air carriers in securing additional flight schedules with each of the 9 ASEAN neighbors. 

The Philippine government targets to have new flights operational within the next 6 months.

The MAAS is part of the ASEAN’s Roadmap for Integration of Air Transportation Services, essentially laying down the foundation for the envisioned ASEAN Single Aviation Market.

The ASEAN Single Aviation Market is seen to foster seamless connectivity within the region.

There are 9 freedoms of the air established by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The Philippines has only agreed to have open skies up to the 6th freedom.

Protocols 5 and 6 provide more competitive and better airline services, as well as lower fares and broader options for passengers, the transportation department said.

The development also increases the competition among ASEAN carriers.

“It will encourage service upgrades among our airlines, which have thus far proved to be competitive players in the ASEAN and other regional markets,” the transportation department said.

To meet the expected impact of greater tourist and economic air activity, the DOTC said it will continue to modernize the country’s airport infrastructure. 

It already rehabilitated the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 and is fully operating NAIA Terminal 3.

The department has also begun constructing airport facilities in key business and tourist centers such as Cebu, Bohol, and Puerto Princesa. –

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