A Double Treat: Cebu Pacific Cleared to Europe, FAA Grants Category 1

Only hours after the Philippines was granted the highly coveted Category 1 designation from the US Federal Aviation Administration, the industry earned another milestone: clearance for Cebu Pacific to restore flights to Europe. Nine months after the ban preventing Philippine Airlines from flying to Europe was lifted, Cebu Pacific has now earned the privilege to launch low-cost flights to Europe. 

cebu pacific a330
Image Source: RussAvia/Wikimedia
"The decision of the European Commission to lift the ban on Cebu Pacific shows the ability of Philippine authorities and business to work with the EU to raise standards and create economic opportunity," said EU Chargé d'affaires, Julian Vassallo. "Having demonstrated their commitment and capacity to adhere to international standards, we heartily welcome Cebu Pacific to European skies."

Cebu Pacific now becomes the second Philippine carrier permitted to fly to Europe after a ban was imposed in 2010 due to significant safety concerns.

"We welcome this development, a testament to Cebu Pacific's commitment to safety and full compliance with the international aviation safety standards," said Lance Gokongwei, President and CEO of Cebu Pacific. "This would not have been possible without the full support of the Philippine government, and especially the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines."

Gokongwei added that the decision now enables Cebu Pacific to continue flying to where Filipinos are. With nearly a million Filipino overseas foreign workers residing in the European Union, the carrier is eager to offer affordable budget airfares to Filipinos residing in Europe along with the most extensive route network in the Philippines.

Philippine Airlines was permitted to return to European skies in July of 2013, three years after the safety ban was initially imposed for failure to comply with international safety standards. Since then, Philippine Airlines has launched direct flights between Manila and London's Heathrow airport representing the carrier's return to Europe after an absence of fifteen years. Philippine Airlines has intentions to add more European cities later this year.

Cebu Pacific was unable to join Philippine Airlines last July as further significant safety concerns were raised after a Cebu Pacific aircraft overshot the runway in Davao last June. The carrier was supposed to present its case to European officials late last year but relief operations for Typhoon Haiyan took priority.

Although Cebu Pacific has not revealed any specific intentions to serve European destinations in the near future, it is possible that Russia or Israel may be considered soon. According to analysis by the Centre for Aviation, Cebu Pacific is unlikely to launch service to Europe in the immediate future as the carrier prefers long haul routes that are less than ten hours since the economics of longer routes are not attractive.

While Russia and Tel Aviv are not in the plans for 2014, both countries have been considered and Cebu Pacific has applied for rights to serve Moscow and Tel Aviv. Such routes would rely on inbound foreign tourist traffic rather than Filipino overseas foreign workers that have been the primary focus of Cebu Pacific's long-haul division.

For now, Cebu Pacific is likely to focus on routes where there is a stronger presence of overseas Filipino workers either in the Middle East, Australia, or even perhaps the United States after the recent upgrade to Category 1 status. Cebu Pacific has previously indicated a desire to launch direct flights from the Philippines to Hawaii and Guam.

Earlier today, the US Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the Philippines' aviation safety designation to Category 1. The upgrade now permits airlines in the Philippines to add new routes and increase the number of flights to the United States.

1 comment:

  1. What about other airlines in the Philippines such as AirAsia Zest, Air Asia Philippines, Tigerair Philippines, and others?


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