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‘With move to NAIA 3, Fraport case can be settled’

MANILA, Philippines - Germany expressed hope yesterday that the transfer of five foreign airlines to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 would speed up the settlement of the legal dispute between the Philippine government and German airport operator Fraport AG.

“It’s a good window of opportunity… Once they do this step, it might also be a good idea to come to a settlement,” German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski told The STAR yesterday. “Everyone should now be interested to come to a settlement.”

Ossowski said bilateral economic and trade ties have improved and German investors like the reforms implemented by the Aquino administration to make the Philippines more business-friendly.

“We have moved a good way forward but more needs to be done,” he said.

Among the things that must be settled, he said, is the dispute with Fraport, which European officials have said has scared away investors.

“Fraport is like a lighthouse that others look at,” Ossowski said. “All the other investors see money which went down the drain.”

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Airport general manager Jose Angel Honrado announced recently that Cathay Pacific, Delta Airlines, Emirates, KLM and Singapore Airlines planned to transfer operations to NAIA 3 by August as Terminal 1 undergoes repair.

Foreign carriers have reportedly resisted transferring operations to NAIA 3 for fear of becoming entangled in the unresolved dispute with Fraport.

With the planned transfer of the five major carriers, Ossowski said a settlement of the dispute with Fraport would be a good follow-up.

“If everyone acts with goodwill and determination, everything will reach a settlement that is acceptable to all sides,” he told The STAR. “Other investors will be encouraged to come.”

He expressed confidence that a legal settlement will be reached on the case that arose from the government’s termination of the contract awarded to Fraport and its Philippine partner Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) amid allegations of corruption.

“We want to close that chapter,” Ossowski said. “It has cast a shadow on bilateral relations in the past and we want to overcome that.”

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