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Phl, Malaysia air talks on hold

MANILA, Philippines - Air talks between the Philippines and Malaysia have been called off as authorities in Kuala Lumpur are dealing with the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian airliner last month.

Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), said Malaysian authorities have asked for deferment of the negotiation scheduled on April 3 and 4, citing the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The aircraft, with 239 people on board including two infants and 12 crewmembers, was declared missing after it took off from Kuala Lumpur and failed to land in Beijing as scheduled.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on March 24 that experts have established beyond doubt that the aircraft crashed in the Indian Ocean, leaving no survivors.

President Aquino has signed Executive Order No. 29 authorizing the CAB and the Philippine air authorities to pursue aggressively the international civil aviation liberalization policy.

The Philippine air services negotiating 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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The Philippines has successfully concluded air talks with New Zealand, Singapore and France this year.

It will also hold similar negotiations with Canada, Taiwan, Russia and South Korea this year.

The government is pursuing air talks as part of its open skies policy.

EO 29 provides that airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be opened to more foreign traffic, in line with the target to lure 10 million tourists to the country by 2016.

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


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