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CebuPac eyes flights to Israel

MANILA, Philippines - Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) is seeking the green light from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to fly to Tel Aviv in Israel to service pilgrims going to the Holy Land.

Cebu Pacific filed an application with the CAB for designation as official Philippine carrier and allocation of entitlements to Tel Aviv, Israel.

CAB hearing officer Maria Elben Moro said in a notice of hearing that Cebu Pacific is seeking an allocation of seven frequencies entitlements to Tel Aviv under route 1 of the recently concluded air service agreement (ASA) and confidential memorandum of understanding.

Last month, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) – jointly owned by businessman Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) – filed an application for reaffirmation of designation and allocation of entitlements to Tel Aviv, Israel.

PAL was seeking 14 frequencies entitlements to Israel.

Last Nov. 8, the Philippines and Israel has signed a new air service pact updating an old agreement signed more than six decades ago allowing airlines from the country to fly indirectly to Europe via Tel Aviv.

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CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla earlier said the new air service agreement was signed yesterday giving designated airlines of each country 21 flights per week.

 “Under the new agreement, the designated airlines of each country are entitled to a total of 21 flights per week between any points in the Philippines and Israel,” Arcilla said.

Both countries also agreed on three fifth freedom flights per week on one intermediate point in Mumbai and one beyond point in Madrid.

“This means that a Philippine carrier can fly to India, unload and pick up passengers and proceed to Israel, or unload and pick up in Israel and proceed to Madrid,” he said.

He added that both countries also agreed on coterminal and stopover rights to any third country for the 21 flights.

“This means that a Philippine carrier can bring passengers to Tel Aviv and proceed to say, Rome or bring passengers to Tel Aviv, and pick them up again after several days for onward travel to say, Rome,” Arcilla explained.

The CAB official said both countries signed an air service agreement or a memorandum of understanding way back in 1951 and national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) used to fly to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We could not find records of the previous entitlements. Presumably it’s a very low number, as was common during that time. PAL used to operate to Israel in the 50s and 60s, but we don’t have records anymore,” he said.

The Israeli Tourism Ministry believed that two million Christian tourists passed from Jerusalem to visit Bethlehem last year after the government improved sites including the baptism site at Qasr el Yahud near the Dead Sea, Mount Zion and Ein Karem in Jerusalem and the Gospel Trail in the Galilee.



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