No go for air deal between Philippines and Singapore

By Lenie A. Lectura, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 20 2012 08:18 AM | Updated as of Aug 21 2012 01:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Singapore failed to seal a deal to amend their air services agreement (ASA), citing unresolved “substantive and operational issues.”

“Both RP [Republic of the Philippines] and SG [Singapore] like Fifth Freedom Rights, but the substantive and operational issues attached to such Fifth Freedom remain unresolved,” said Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), in a recent interview. “RP” is alternatively referred to as “PHL” or “PH.”

Fifth freedom basically refers to the right to carry passengers from a carrier’s own country to a second country, and from that country to a third country.

The Singapore air panel wants all Singaporean carriers to transport passengers from Singapore to Manila and pick up passengers bound for China, Japan and South Korea and vice versa.

The Philippines is asking that local carriers be allowed to fly to some parts of Europe, India and the Middle East after they have mounted flights to Singapore from Manila.

Arcilla said neither the Philippines nor Singapore is opposing enforcement of Fifth Freedom Rights but both countries feel that “there is no balance to both interests.”

By balance, he was also referring to the countries chosen by Singapore and the Philippines after mounting the Manila-Singapore route and vice versa.

“The parties feel they need to come up with a better balancing package that would result in a better balancing of rights. What value would it give us? Will the operations of our airlines be affected if their carriers would fly to those countries when in fact our local carriers are already flying to those destinations?”

The panels will resume negotiations after six months.

At present, there are 43,487 seat entitlements granted to Singapore and another 43,487 to the Philippines. The air talks on August 15 and 16 involved adding 3,780 weekly seat entitlements.

“This is the biggest entitlement we have among all our partners. The market is evolving and there is a huge demand for Singapore travel. We will revisit negotiations in six months,” said the CAB official.

The CAB, an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), is mandated to regulate the economic aspect of air transportation, and shall have the general supervision, control and jurisdiction over air carriers, general sales agents, cargo sales agents and air freight forwarders.

Members of the panel include the DOTC, Departments of Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Trade and Industry, and representatives from airline companies.