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Phl expects positive dev’t on EU ban on air carriers

BRUSSELS – A positive development on the ban imposed by the European Union on all air carriers licensed in the Philippines is expected to be made known soon.

A Philippine official, who requested anonymity, yesterday said the progress achieved by the Philippines in the area of air safety that will help lead to the lifting of the ban was among the issues discussed during the meeting of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at EU headquarters here last Monday.

The Philippines had presented to the EU the developments in the country’s efforts to strengthen the implementation of air safety reforms for the lifting of EU ban on Philippine air carriers.

Measures taken by the Philippines to address the serious air safety deficiencies are deemed important as the lifting of the ban will depend on these efforts.

The EU prohibited in 2010 all airlines based in the Philippines from flying in the bloc.

The EU said “serious safety deficiencies” in the Philippines’ regulation of carriers led to the air ban.

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The European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive arm, cited assessments by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The EC has been in discussion with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) since April 2008, and acknowledged its efforts to reform the civil aviation system as well as the measures taken by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to ensure the safety of their operations.

EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux earlier said many companies are interested in the resumption of direct flights to Europe.

Ledoux said the resumption of direct flights would be an expansion of EU-Philippines business “which would also promote tourism and also give a boost to the airline industry.”

Meantime, Del Rosario also briefed Van Rompuy on the measures being undertaken by the Philippines in ensuring that Filipino seafarers remain globally competitive as the country faces a possible ban on the hiring of Filipino seamen.

Del Rosario’s meeting with the EU officials is an opportunity to present actions taken by the Philippines to avert an EU ban on the hiring of Filipino seafarers or termination of employment of about 80,000 Filipino seamen by EU-flagged merchant vessels after the Philippines failed again in the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) audit of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) last April.

“The secretary briefed President Van Rompuy on what the Philippines has been doing and hopes for a positive outcome,” the Philippine official said.

Del Rosario also briefed Van Rompuy on the Mindanao peace process and trade, and thanked the EU for its support for the peaceful settlement of the dispute on the West Philippine Sea.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on March 14 approving a report which included its support to the Philippines’ arbitration initiative, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in clarifying the country’s maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.

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