CAB says PAL still can't fly to London despite UK-PH air pact

by Lois Calderon, ANC

Posted at Dec 12 2012 09:15 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2012 05:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aeronautics Board said Philippine Airlines pushed for the signing of the UK-Philippine air services agreement but can't fly to London just yet because Philippine carriers are still banned in Europe.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla told ANC that PAL wrote to them telling the regulator it wants to fly again to London, two weeks before the air pact was signed Tuesday. PAL last few to London in 1998.

Arcilla said a provisional draft of the air pact has been there since 2009, but there was no impetus in the past three years to have it formalized.

He said no airline back then applied for seat entitlements.

"We felt there's no rush (to have the air pact signed) because it's provisional," Arcilla said in a phone interview.

Arcilla said the fresh air pact amends a 1955 deal between the UK and the Philippines and expands flights from three times weekly to 21 times a week - 7 times a week from Manila and Cebu and 7 times a week from elsewhere in the country.

The London route fulfills PAL's plan to fly long-haul to profitable destinations.

A visiting UK Minister of State met with PAL president Ramon Ang also on Tuesday to discuss that London route and PAL's purchases of Airbus jets.

"We want Philippine Airlines to fly to the UK as soon as the outstanding issues are resolved... So that means many more British people will be coming here to the Philippines for the holidays,” said Hugo Swire, UK Minister of State.

But Arcilla said PAL would have to wait until the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) resolves global safety issues that barred Philippine carriers from flying to Europe.

"You have to put it aside. Air services is one thing, but the global safety issue is another. You have to hurdle that and CAAP is working on it," Arcilla said.