MANILA, Philippines - Philippine airlines will now be able to mount more flights to Japan. This after Japan and the Philippines signed a new air service agreement that would increase the number of flights between the two countries.
Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla on Friday said the new air pact raised the number of flights between Manila and Narita to a maximum of 400 a week from the current level of 119 a week.
The deal also allowed 14 flights a week between Manila and Haneda, Arcilla said. It also allows for unlimited air traffic rights between points in the Philippines except Manila and points in Japan except Haneda.
"This is a major breakthrough, especially since Japan is a major and third biggest tourism market for the Philippines, and also since the last talks was held in 2008, and the current Philippine entitlements are almost fully utilized," Arcilla said.
Japan had prevented Philippine carriers from mounting additional flights after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) raised several safety security concerns in 2008. Earlier this year, the ICAO lifted the remaining security concerns on the Philippines.
Arcilla said the new air pact will benefit Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, which both currently fly to Japan, as well as Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
"It is expected that the expanded traffic rights will support the further growth and expansion of he Philippine-Japan market. Currently, PAL and Cebu Pacific operate to Japan and other Philippine carriers are expected to enter the market," he said.
Earlier, Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei said the budget airline is planning to fly to Tokyo and Nagoya. It currently flies three times a week to Osaka. Budget carriers Zest Air and Tigerair Philippines are also eyeing flights to Japan.
Last July, Japan started issuing multiple-entry visas for Filipino citizens, valid for three years. Granting multiple entry visas is expected to increase the number of Filipino tourists who visit Japan.