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Phl confident of passing ICAO audit next week

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is confident that the Philippines would pass the audit to be conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) scheduled on Monday.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told participants of the Philippine Economic Briefing titled “Good Governance is Good Economics: Achieving Investment Grade” that the Philippine government has addressed all the safety concerns raised by ICAO.

“We are confident that it (safety concern) has been addressed. Of course there is a certain area whether it has been fully closed or is the auditing merely just checking if we are going in the right direction though not fully accomplished,” Abaya stressed.

He pointed that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is prepared for the audit to be conducted by ICAO on Feb. 18.

“We are continuously preparing for our audit by ICAO on February 18. Monday is a big day for us, we will be audited for the Category 1, Category 2 efforts,” Abaya said during the open forum.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration upon the recommendation of the ICAO to Category 2 from Category 1.

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Category 2 indicates that the FAA had assessed that the Philippines’ civil aviation authority had failed to comply with ICAO safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations. While in Category 2, Philippine air carriers are permitted to continue current operations to the US under heightened FAA surveillance.

Furthermore, the 27-member European Commission decided in April 2010 to impose a ban on Philippine carriers from European airspace for the failure of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to reform the country’s civil aviation system.

These prevent Philippine carriers including national flag carrier Philippine Airlines and budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) from mounting additional flights to the US as well as European destinations.

PAL, jointly owned by tobacco and airline magnate Lucio Tan as well as diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is set to ask the European Commission from an exemption from a ban on Philippine carriers from European airspace.

PAL vice president for marketing Felix Cruz earlier said the airline is seeking an exemption from the ban using its certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as its connections with European companies.

He added that it could use the ISO certification issued by the IATA on PAL and the fact that the airline is maintained by Luftansa Technik AG of Germany.

PAL recently entered into a contract close to about $10 billion for the acquisition of 65 Airbus aircraft and has existing orders for the acquisition of six Boeing 777-300ER planes.

The first 10 Airbus planes of the 65-strong order is scheduled for delivery in 2013 while two more Boeing 777-300ER are scheduled to arrive in April and November next year.

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