MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Australia have signed an air agreement that further increases seat entitlements by 55%.
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla confirmed in a text message that the two countries signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services in Canberra on Wednesday, April 29.
The new pact – the Philippines’ third this year – increased the seat entitlements between the Philippines and Australia to 9,300 seats from the current 6,300 seats per week, he said.
“Currently, Philippine carriers are fully utilizing the Philippine entitlements,” Arcilla added.
National flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc (PAL) currently flies to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Darwin while budget carrier Cebu Air Inc (Cebu Pacific) operates flights to Sydney.
Total traffic between the Philippines and Australia went up by 10% to about 327,000 last year. There are an estimated 400,000 Filipinos in working Australia.
Arcilla added that both countries also agreed to allow third country code sharing which, she said, “will enable designated airlines of the Philippines or Australia to operate services jointly with an airline of a third country, to, from, or via the other country and thus improve market distribution.”
Cebu Pacific is looking forward to expanding its services between Manila and Sydney on the back of the growing number of tourists.
“We look forward to expanding our services and further growing inbound tourism into our countries,” said Alex Reyes, general manager Cebu Pacific long haul division.
Data showed that tourists from Australia increased by 5% to 224,000 last year.
Reyes added that Cebu Pacific has increased flights between Manila and Sydney to 5 times a week, 3 months after it launched its 4-times weekly non-stop flights to Australia in September last year.
For January 2015, the budget airline carried 13,875 passengers between Manila and Sydney.
Prior to the entry of Cebu Pacific, passenger traffic between Sydney and Manila was growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8% over 5 years.
Earlier this month, the Philippines and Oman in the Middle East signed a new air agreement increasing the frequencies between Manila and Muscat to 7 from 3 flights per week.
The new air pact would benefit about 50,000 Filipinos in Oman.
The Philippines and Singapore signed an air pact in February, opening commercial opportunities for their airlines. Philippine budget carriers Cebu Air Incorporated and its sister airline Tiger Airways Philippines, and AirAsia Zest applied for 1,260 additional seats each.
Six Philippine budget carriers will also know if they can fly to Europe by July, when the EU Air Safety Assessment team is expected to conclude its audit.
The Aquino administration is pursuing more air talks as part of its open skies policy under Executive Order 29. The administration aims to double tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016.
Last year, the Philippines concluded air talks with Ethiopia, South Africa, Macau, Canada, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore and France – Rappler.com