Aviation execs see PH’s need for open skies policy

MANILA A Philippine Airlines (PAL) executive on Friday noted the country's need for the open skies policy, and the local industry's support for the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASAM).

An open skies policy is the easing up of the rules governing air transportation around the world.

ASAM aims to liberalize air transport services in the region, as well as highlight the importance of strengthening ASEAN connectivity in facilitating tourism and trade. ASAM also tackles the standardization of permits, language, and pilot licenses.

In a forum held in Makati City, Maria Socorro Gonzaga, PAL vice president for external affairs and partnerships, said the open skies policy would really enhance connectivity.

She explained that an enhanced connectivity would stimulate competition thus, would encourage airlines to offer lower fares.

Gonzaga, however, said the country will not fully enjoy the benefits of the open skies policy if it does not have the necessary infrastructure.

"We're talking about the level of readiness. This is a challenge. We need the technical expertise, the manpower, among others," she said.

To keep up with the market demands, Gonzaga said the country needs not just new and improved airports, but also better environment for the aviation business (safety, security), manpower support (pilots, air traffic controllers, support staff), and support industry like hotels.

The airlines and the government could work closely to achieve these and get better results, she said.

Meanwhile, in the same forum, AirAsia Deputy CEO for Digital Transformation and and Corporate Services Aileen Omar said air connectivity is essential to have more tourists coming in.

"How do we attract other countries not just for tourism but also for trade? That's the goal of ASAM," Omar said.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the Philippines is still in the stage of refining the agreements with regard to ASAM.

Edward Relucio, chief of staff of the House Committee on Transportation, said that for the Philippines to be ready with ASAM, it has to be ready with system and infrastructure.

Representatives from PAL and another local carrier, Cebu Pacific, said infrastructure is not just the Philippines' concern, but also a concern in other countries. They added that infrastructure is a challenge, and this needs to be addressed in order to offer the Philippines as a necessary gateway to other parts of the world. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency