The European Union (EU) has finally decided to lift its five-year ban on all the remaining Philippine carriers.
The decision was arrived after a five-man team conducted a review and series of inspections of the Philippine aviation scene in April.
Under the ban, most Philippine carriers were not only barred from mounting flights to any point in the EU but they were also prohibited from merely flying through the 28-nation bloc's airspace enroute to other destinations.
However, the EU has gradually lifted the ban for several carriers over the past two years. It started with Philippine Airlines in July 2013. Last year, Cebu Pacific was also released from the ban. Eric Apolonio of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) says that this effectively means that the remaining seven Philippine carriers can fly to or through the EU. This includes AirAsia Philippines and AirAsia Zest.
|Copyright photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG|
Lubomir Frebort, EU charge d'affaires in the Philippines expressed the significance of this decision. He said "This is truly breaking news since it is the first time that the entire aviation sector of one country is removed from the European Air Safety List".
Currently, Philippine Airlines has been the only Philippine carrier to take advantage of the lifting of the EU ban. Within five months of its own ban being lifted, the flag carrier reintroduced its London service after an 18-year absence. But Apolonio reiterated that even Philippine carriers that do not fly to the EU directly also stand to benefit from this. This is as EU residents are expected to feel more encouraged to use local carriers. EU residents who fly with carriers subject to the ban will not be covered by their insurance in case something happens.
This move also culminates two years of major international aviation bodies expressing confidence in the Philippine civil aviation system. Last year, the United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally restored a 'Category 1' rating on the Philippines. With this, Philippine carriers can introduce new services to the US and use more modern aircraft on existing US services. Shortly after the restoration of 'Category 1', Philippine Airlines started deploying its flagship Boeing 777-300 aircraft to San Francisco and Los Angeles. In less than a year, the flag carrier also restored service to New York via Vancouver. Cebu Pacific is currently considering the introduction of flights to US cities such as Honolulu.
Source: ABS-CBN News