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Cebu Pac eyes Italy as 1st Europe destination

MANILA, Philippines - Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) is gearing up for its first ever flight to Europe as it is now seeking permission from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to fly to Italy.

In a petition filed with the CAB, Cebu Pacific is seeking the re-allocation of additional entitlements to Italy from the unutilized seat entitlements previously allocated to national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).

The petition was filed in accordance to the Sept. 5, 2013 Confidential Memorandum of Understanding (CMOU) between the governments of the Philippines and Italy.

In April last year, EU Chargè d’ Affaires Dr. Julian Vassallo announced that the body lifted the ban imposed on Cebu Pacific a day after the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) upgraded the aviation safety rating of the Philippines back to Category 1.

The European Commission has decided to remove Cebu Pacific from the EU Safety List effectively allowing it to fly to the EU. 

The 27-member European Commission imposed a ban in March 2010 preventing Philippine carriers from entering the European airspace after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) failed to reform the country’s civil aviation system as mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

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However, the Philippines got a positive impression from the EU’s Air Safety Committee (ASC) in Belgium in June 2013 especially after ICAO lifted the remaining significant security concerns when Philippines through the CAAP passed the audit conducted in February.

Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei earlier disclosed plans to acquire bigger aircraft to expand its long haul operations particularly to the US and Europe.

The budget airline is in the middle of a $4 billion re-fleeting program involving the acquisition of 50 brand new Airbus aircaft. It is scheduled to take delivery of one Airbus A330, nine A320, and 30 Airbus A321neo between this year and 2021.

Cebu Pacific has a fleet of 52 aircraft composed of 10 Airbus A319, 29 A320, five A330 and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft.

The airline is on track to flying its 100 millionth passenger after 18 years of operations. It launched its first domestic flights to Cebu and Davao in March 8, 1996 after the Philippine government deregulated air travel, and opened up opportunities for other airlines. 

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