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Foreign airlines still welcome in Phl Gov’t to free up more slots at NAIA

MANILA, Philippines - The government is freeing up more slots at the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to allow more foreign airlines to fly into the Philippines to boost efforts to attract 10 million tourists by 2016.

Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), said in an interview that foreign airlines are still welcome to fly to the Philippines as long as slots are available at the 30-year old international gateway.

“Finally, the Philippines continues to welcome foreign airlines to the Philippines in support of our program to improve connectivity vital to the promotion of trade, tourism and public convenience,” Arcilla stressed.

Arcilla clarified that the agency has not stopped issuing Foreign Air Carrier’s Permit (FACP) to operate international scheduled air transportation services in the Philippines.

“On the contrary, the CAB has not denied, continues, and will continue to approve applications for FACPs filed by duly-qualified foreign carriers who want to operate here in the Philippines,” he said.

Arcilla said the agency is already processing the FACP of Oman Air while Jet Airways of India was granted an FACP valid until 2016 last 2011.

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CAB has already granted FACPs to five foreign airlines this year on top of the applications for FACPs by 12 foreign carriers in 2012.

According to him, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) continues to improve the slotting system at the NAIA with the help of Sydney-based Airport Coordination Australia (ACA).

The Australian firm, he said, has been tapped to handle the time slotting of domestic and international foreign airlines in a bid to address aircraft congestion at the country’s premier airport.

He said foreign airlines are still welcome to fly to the Philippines especially during off-peak hours from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. as the government is still freeing up more slots during peak hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Admittedly, some foreign airlines have to wait for runway slot clearance from the NAIA before they can operate. This is because during the peak hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., runway slots at the NAIA are full. Consequently, if the airline prefers to operate within the peak hours, it would have to wait for available slots to be opened,” he added.

“While the NAIA might have limited capacity to accommodate all airlines during peak hours, the NAIA’s infrastructure can well accommodate all airlines beyond the peak hours from 7 p.m.,” he said.

He explained that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the MIAA are addressing the runway congestion problem during peak hours.

He said alternatives being adopted include lowering fees for takeoffs and landings at nighttime from 8pm to 6am by 25 percent and doubling the fees at daytime from 7am to 6pm as well as the ongoing transfer of general aviation flights to Sangley Point in Cavite City as there are about 82 general aviation flights per day in NAIA.

He added that MIAA is also improving the operations of the rapid taxiway at the NAIA to prevent congestion at the runway as the government has earmarked P300 million each for the construction of two rapid exit taxiways.

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