PH expects US, EU to lift aviation bans in 2013

Rappler.com
Foreign aviation authorities are set to visit the country in May and June

NO BANS. The Philippines expects lifting of aviation sanctions from the US and the EU. AFP Photo

MANILA, Philippines – The government said that it expects the US aviation authority and the European Union to lift existing bans on Philippine carriers after a “positive” meeting in Brussels last week.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general William Hotchkiss lll said that he expects the results of audits conducted by the European Union and the US Federal Aviation Authority (US FAA) in the coming months.

“Hopefully within the year,” Hotchkiss said in relation to the timeline for the lifting of the ban on local airlines.

Hotchkiss has met with EU Commission DG MOVE head director Matthew Baldwin in Brussels, Belgium on April 16. He made a presentation regarding his agency’s air operators certification process and aircraft accident inquiry and investigation board.

EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux earlier said that the lifting of EU sanctions is expected to increase trade and tourism between the Philippines and the European Union.

“I think we are on a very positive curve. The first major achievement is the lifting of the safety concern by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) earlier this year and that has certainly triggered this meeting in Brussels,” he said.

Upcoming visits

According to Hotchkiss, US FAA manager for international programs and policy John Barbagallo is set to visit the country on May 2.

He added that representatives from the EU Commission directorate general for mobility and transport (DG MOVE) are scheduled to conduct an on-site visit from June 3 to 7. The visit would coincide with an EU Air Safety Committee meeting in Belgium.

“This committee is the one tasked to determine whether a country can be removed from the EU blacklist,” Hotchkiss said.

In April 2010, the European Union banned local airlines from its airspace based on findings from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on the other hand, downgraded the safety rating of CAAP to category 2 from category 1 in 2008.

Both decisions prevented local airlines from flying to Europe and adding flights to the US.

ICAO lifted its significant security concerns on the Philippines after conducting an audit from Feb. 18 to 22. Both FAA and the EU base their decisions mostly on the audit findings of the ICAO. – with reports from Christian B. Bautista/Rappler.com

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