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PAL, AirAsia Zest seek add’l seat entitlements to Malaysia

MANILA, Philippines - National flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) of taipan Lucio Tan and low cost carrier AirAsia Zest are seeking more seat entitlements for flights between Manila and Kuala Lumpur to cope with a growing number of passengers.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has consolidated the separate applications filed by PAL and unit PAL Express as well as AirAsia Zest for more seat entitlements to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

AirAsia Zest, jointly owned by Philippines AirAsia Inc. and Zest Airways Corp. of Ambassador Alfredo Yao, is seeking 1,260 weekly seat entitlements to Kuala Lumpur.

PAL, on the other hand, is seeking 900 weekly seats for flights between Manila and Kuala Lumpur while unit PAL Express is seeking 720 weekly seats.

The airlines filed their respective applications for additional allocation of entitlements to Kuala Lumpur in accordance with the recently concluded confidential memorandum of understanding between the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla announced last Oct. 30 that the Philippines and Malaysia agreed to double the capacity between Manila and Kuala Lumpur to 9,640 seats per week from the 4,820 per week.

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Arcilla earlier said the new air agreement also provides unlimited seats per week from the current 2,000 seats per week between all points in Malaysia and all points in the Philippines except Manila.

Air talks with Malayasia were called off twice this year. It was originally scheduled in April but was postponed due to the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airline Flight No. MH370. It was rescheduled in August but has to be called off again due to the shooting down of Malaysia Airline Flight No. MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.

According to him, there was a need to update the air pact with Malaysia that was signed in 2011 to cope with the growing number of passengers between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

AirAsia Zest has been operating beyond the limit and is currently utilizing temporary rights to fly more passengers to Malaysia.

The air agreement with Malaysia was the 10th concluded by the Philippine air negotiating panel. The panel has so far concluded air talks with Ethiopia, South Africa, Macau, Canada, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore and France since the start of the year.

The Aquino administration is pursuing more air talks as part of its open skies policy under Executive Order 29. The administration aims to double tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016 from about 5.7 million this year. Last year, tourist arrivals grew by 9.56 percent year-on-year to 4.68 million.

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines went up by 3.27 percent to 3.27 million from January to August this year compared to 3.18 million in the same period last year.

Korea emerged as the major source of foreign tourists with 783,852 in the first eight months of the year followed by the US with 493,338; Japan with 310,901; China with 308,393; and Australia with 140,123.

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