Myanmar and Philippines Seeking Air Agreement, Visa-Free Access

Philippine carriers are considering mounting flights to Myanmar to take advantage of the country's extensive tourism opportunities after the government expressed an interest in establishing an air services agreement between the two countries that would even include visa-free entry for travellers from both countries for a defined period of time. 

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Local airlines including Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have already expressed interest in flying to Myanmar that has been described as one of the Asia Pacific region's final frontiers. There is currently no existing air agreement between the two countries and the Civil Aeronautics Board has confirmed that talks have been tentatively scheduled for the first or second quarter of 2014. 

"It is a potential aviation market, within the next three years one of our airlines can consider flying there," said Carmelo Arcilla, Executive Director of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Myanmar has been on the Philippines' radar since 2006 but previous talks were called off due to political turmoil in the country. According to Arcilla, conditions have improved considerably under the new leadership of the reform-minded President Thein Sein. "For a long while, Myanmar was the pariah of Southeast Asia so these talks are a long time coming," noted Arcilla. 

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific's Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Jorenz TaƱada, expressed support on behalf of the airline for the government's plan to boost tourism and trade with Myanmar.

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