If travel by sea is the cheapest, by air is the fastest. Today, foreign travelers and cargo enter the Philippines by air through at least seven airports.
Now, more foreign airlines are flying in through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga; Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA), as well as that in Kalibo, Aklan, among others.
As new routes open up, new airports and the upgrading of existing ones now take up commercial operation time of 24 hours/seven days a week. A total of 31 airports across the country are being upgraded into international standards to accommodate bigger aircraft and the increased number of passengers.
Last July 22, 2008, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 initiated its start-up operation that involved about eight domestic flights from Cebu Pacific (CEB), Pacific Air and were subsequently followed by other domestic flights from PAL Express and Air Philippines, the two (PAL Express and Air Philippines) make the largest operator at Terminal 3.
On Aug. 1, CEB started its international operations at NAIA 3, with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo among the principal passengers. It was actually the second time for her to fly into Terminal 3. Last June 30, she was among the first passengers to deplane at the facility when her PAL Boeing 747-400 arrived at 2:50 a.m. from San Francisco, the last stop on her state visit to the United States.
The DMIA Passenger Terminal I rehabilitation and expansion totaled Php151.8 million. It was completed on March 31 and was inaugurated by the President on April 4.
The project involved the expansion of pre-departure/arrival area and improvement of the building’s interior and exterior façade.
It currently operates 39 international flights per week with an average of 21,000 passengers per day departing and arriving at the passenger terminal.
The new Bacolod (Silay) Airport was completed to the tune of Php5.692 billion. It was opened for operations on Jan. 18.
The Busuanga Airport in Coron, Busuanga Island, Palawan was constructed using Php160 million Grant from Korean International Cooperation Agency and Php40 million national government funds.
The airport was completed on Oct. 31 and was inaugurated by the President on Nov. 17.
The total project cost of the Laguindingan Airport Development Project is Php5.386 billion. It involves the development of a new airport of international standard at Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental.
It commenced construction on Jan. 18 and is 13.33 percent complete as of Nov. 30, 2008.
There were 13 air services agreements (ASAs) completed in 2008, which resulted in increased capacity entitlements for passenger and cargo services, making available additional seat capacities for the country’s airlines and greater access to domestic tourism destinations. The air agreements include:
The RP-Palau bilateral ASA, signed in 2003 and amended on April 2 at Malacanang, seeks to increase seat entitlements from 500 to 600 seats per week from points (destination) in RP to points in Palau.
The ASA also increases the seat entitlements from 200 to 400 seats per week each from the DMIA, Cebu and Davao to Palau.
RP-Macau — The air talks which was held in Macao last April 24-25 resulted in the increase of entitlement from 850 to 3,500 seats per week on the Manila-Macao route and vice versa.
Separate seat entitlements were also agreed upon for the DMIA and SBIA for 6,300 seats per week and an additional 3,000 seats per week for points outside Manila and Clark.
For all cargo services, the designated airlines of RP and of Macao are entitled to up 300 tons per week in each direction. This entitlement will cater mostly to DMIA.
RP-Canada -– Held in Vancouver May 13-15, it resulted in the increase of passengers entitlement from four to seven flight frequencies per week.
For cargo capacity entitlements in the DMIA-SBIA-Vancouver route, a maxim of seven flights per week in each direction was signed. A separate cargo entitlement was also agreed upon for any points in RP other than the DMIA/SBIA of up to three flights per week.
RP-Cambodia -– The negotiations were held in Pasay City last June 19-20, and led to the initialing of an ASA to be effective upon approval of the governments of both parties. It is recalled that almost 40 years has passed since the initial air talks in 1967, where an ASA was only drafted.
The Philippine proposal for seat entitlements of 32 flights per week in each direction from points in RP to points in Cambodia is included in the record of discussion which the Cambodian delegation will submit to their government for approval.
In the meantime, it was agreed upon that the carriers from each government could already apply to their respective aviation authorities for approval by the other authority for passenger and cargo entitlements between points in DMIA, Cebu or Davao which RP carriers are very enthusiastic to apply with the Civil Aeronautical Board (CAB) for approval by Cambodian Aviation Authorities.
RP-Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) -– The negotiations were held in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga last June 25-26. For passenger services, the Manila-Hong Kong and vice versa flights will have 13,000 sets per week to a maximum of 15,000 seats per week; Clark-Hong Kong and vice versa, from 0 to a maximum of 2,500 seats per week; points in RP, except Manila, Clark and Cebu and vice versa, a maximum of 2,500 seats per week has been retained.
For cargo, points in RP (except Clark) -Hong Kong and vice versa, from 300 tons per week to a maximum of 400; Clark-Hong Kong and vice versa, from 0 to a maximum of 1,400 tons per week.
RP-Netherlands -– Held in Manila July 11-12 and the negotiations resulted for passenger services by frequencies-Manila-Amsterdam and vice versa, from four frequencies per week to a maximum of seven; Clark-Amsterdam and vice versa, from 0 to seven frequencies; points in RP (except Manila and Clark) to other points in Netherlands including Maastricht and vice versa, from 0 to seven frequencies.
For all cargo operations, Clark-Subic to points in Netherlands, from 0 to an average of 700 tons per week; points in RP (except Clark/Subic), points in Netherlands and vice versa, from 0 to an average if 250 tons.
RP-Thailand -– It was held in Bangkok from July 24-25 and resulted to passenger services-route 1 (point in RP to Bangkok/Chiang Mai, with 5th freedom travel right-FTR), from 2,850 seats to 3,250; route 2 (Manila-Bangkok, no 5th FTR), from 850 seats to 2,150; route 3 (points in RP except Manila and Clark to points in Thailand, no 5th FTR), from 850 seats to 2,110 seats/week; route 5 (a) (Clark-points in Thailand, no 5th FTR), from 0 to 8,700 seats.
For all cargo services/week –- route 4 (points to RP points in Thailand, no 5th FTR), 300 tons in mainland; route 5 (b) (Clark to points in Thailand, no 5th FTR), from 0 to 700 tons
RP-Iran –- Held in Manila, August 4-5 and resulted to: passenger services by frequencies/week-points in Iran-Manila and vice versa, a maximum of four frequencies without 5th FTR; points in Iran-Clark and vice versa, a maximum of seven frequencies; points in Iran-points in RP (except Manila and Clark), five frequencies.
All-cargo services: points in Iran-Clark, a maximum of 700 tons/week. This is an initial Air Transport Agreement (ATA) between RP and Iran resulting to entitlements of 16 frequencies and 700 tons of cargo.
In the course of the RP-Iran negotiation, informal verbal exchanges in respect to tourism and trade were put to the fore. It is seen that the following could be developed between RP and Iran: increase of services for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) numbering about 851 and of tourists arrivals in RP which was 2,166 (2007), all of which the Department of Tourism (DOT) spearheaded; a bilateral negotiation on the supply of oil which the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) could initiate.
RP-Finland –- It was held in Helsinki last Sept. 29-30. The designated airline(s) of Finland may operate on Helsinki-Manila up to four weekly frequencies; points in Finland-Clark, seven weekly; points in Finland to other points in RP except Manila and Clark, up to seven frequencies.
On the other hand, the designated airline(s) of RP may operate on Manila-Helsinki route up to four frequencies; Clark to points in Finland, seven; other points in RP except Manila and Clark-to Finland, up to seven weekly frequencies.
The designated all cargo airline(s) of the two shall be entitled to operate all cargo services on the basis of 3rd, 4th and/or 5th FTR with capacity of 700 tons/week for points between Helsinki and a point in Finland and Clark or Subic.
RP-Kuwait –- The air talks were conducted in Clark Oct. 22-24 to follow-up on the provisions of the records of discussion during the visit in Malacanang by Sheik Nasser Al-Mohamed Al-Alhmed Al-Jabber Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait.
No agreement was reached in respect to increase in passengers and cargo capabilities; the delegations discussed the acceptance of additional airline designation upon application which shall be approved by their respective aviation authorities; the delegates decided to review an agreement for additional flight frequencies.
RP-Malaysia –- Held in Clark on Oct. 29-30 and resulted in the following: For passenger services, Clark-points in Malaysia vice versa, 9,000 seats; Manila-Kuala Lumpur, 2,300 seats; Manila to Malaysia except Kuala Lumpur, 2,000 seats; RP (except Manila/Clark)-Malaysia, 5,000 seats.
All-cargo services-Manila-Malaysia, 250 tons/week; RP (except Clark/Manila)-Malaysia, 450 tons; Clark-Malaysia, 700 tons/week.
RP-Japan –- The negotiations were held Nov. 26-27 at the CAB. The designated airline(s) of either country will be allowed to operate up to 14 weekly rescheduled round trip frequencies between Manila and Osaka and/or Nagoya; six weekly frequencies between DMIA and Osaka and/or Nagoya; 10 weekly round trip frequencies between Manila and Fukuoka; 28 weekly frequencies between RP (except Manila-Tokyo)-Japan.
RP-Russia -– The air negotiation with Russia resulted in the signing of memorandum of understanding (MOU) providing for a new basic ASA and route annex. From an agreed route schedule in 1992 of one point in RP and one point in Russia, it was increased to three points in RP and three to Russia. It was held in Manila on Dec. 10-11.
RP-Yemen –- It was held in Manila on Dec. 16-17. No result yet.
Two ASEAN Multilateral Agreements on Air Services and Full Liberalization of Air Freight Services were signed by the ASEAN Transport Ministers at Malacanang last Nov. 6, during the 14th ASEAN Transport Ministers meeting. It was witnessed by the President.
The Multilateral Agreement on Air Services will facilitate air services and their related activities to complement the other transport liberalization efforts in ASEAN by removing restriction on a gradual basis, so as to achieve greater flexibility in the operation of air services in ASEAN.
The Multilateral Agreement on the Full Liberalization of Air Freight Services will facilitate air freight services, to complement the other transport facilitation and liberalization efforts in ASEAN by removing restriction on a greater basis.