European Decison on Cebu Pacific Expected Thursday

Cebu Pacific will finally learn the decision on whether the European Union will lift the ban permitting the budget carrier to fly to Europe later this week. The Embassy of the European Union and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines distributed invitations for a press conference at the Civil Aviation Authority's office on Thursday evening where an announcement is expected to be made regarding the European ban imposed on Philippine carriers.

cebu pacific europe
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
While details of the announcement have not been made public, the invitation listed Lance Gokongwei, President of Cebu Pacific as one of the speakers. In addition to Gokongwei, the press conference will be attended by the European Union's Chargè d’ Affaires Dr. Julian Vassallo, CAAP Director William Hotchkiss, and CAAP Deputy Director John Andrews.

Speculation of a favourable announcement continues to rise as media attempts to draw parallels between the upcoming announcement and the announcement made nearly nine months ago when Philippine Airlines was given clearance to fly to Europe.When European Union Ambassador Guy Ledoux made the announcement last July that Philippine Airlines would be permitted to fly to Europe again, it was also made at the office of the Civil Aviation Authority and PAL President Ramon Ang was present. 

Philippine Airlines resumed flights to London's Heathrow Airport in November but Cebu Pacific was excluded from the lifting of the ban due to an accident that occured in Davao in June which highlighted "some weakness that needs to be addressed."

Last month, representatives from Cebu Pacific and the Civil Aviation Authority flew to Brussels to present their case citing that the airline had already complied with outstanding aviation safety concerns. However, Cebu Pacific officials remain cautiously optimistic that the airline will be removed from the European blacklist. "We are hopefully and cautiously optimistic," said Jorenz Tanada, Cebu Pacific's Vice President for Corporate Affairs. "No official announcement yet." He added that the airline's priority is "to get the EU to let us fly over there first."

Meanwhile, a twenty-three company French business delegation that is currently in the Philippines voiced their support for the lifting of the ban on Cebu Pacific indicating that France was one of the countries that favoured lifting the ban. "We're just one of the countries of the EU," said Philippe Matiere, head of the delegation. "The decision still has to be taken officially as a regional bloc. It hasn't been decided yet and hopefully it will go in the right direction." Matiere added that the lifting of the ban would benefit tourists from France that were having difficulty booking flights to the Philippines.

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