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Phl inks air pact with South Africa

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and South Africa have inked a new air agreement to boost trade, investments and tourism between the two countries, an official of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the new memorandum of understanding on air services provide seven flights per week for each country.

 “There are no current operators as the market is still small. South African Airlines has signified its interest to develop the market as part if its expansion in Asia,” Arcilla said.

He pointed out that South Africa initiated the air talks.

 “Air services between the Philippines and South Africa would improve our aviation network and connect us to the emerging markets of Africa,” he added.

The Philippines so far concluded air talks with seven countries including France last January, Singapore last February, New Zealand last March, Myanmar and Canada last May, Macau last June, and South Africa this month.

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Air talks with Malaysia scheduled last April 3 and 4 were called off as authorities in Kuala Lumpur were preoccupied with the search of the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airline Flight No. MH370.

Last year, the Philippines signed air agreements with Japan, Macau, Brazil, Australia, Israel, and Italy.

The Aquino administration is pursuing air talks as part of its open skies policy. Under Executive Order No. 29, airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport would be opened to more foreign traffic.

This is in line with the target to lure 10 million tourists by 2016 set by the Department of Tourism (DOT). This year alone, the Philippines eyes 5.7 million foreign tourists.

Foreign tourists visiting the Philippines increased 2.2 percent to 2.43 million in the first half of the year from 2.38 million in the same period last year.

South Korea still emerged as a major source of foreign tourists with 537,971 in the first half for a share of 22.5 percent, followed by the US with 389,432 or a share of 16 percent, China with 226,163 or 9.3 percent, Japan with 220,366 or 9.1 percent, and Australia with 111,687 or 4.6 percent.

The Philippine air services negotiating panel is scheduled next to hold air talks with Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Taiwan within the year.

The panel is composed of officials from the CAB and the Departments of Tourism, Transportation and Communications, and Foreign Affairs, as well as from the Clark International Airport Corp. and representatives of Philippine carriers.



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