Philippines and Russia Sign Expanded Air Services Agreement

The Philippines and Russia have signed a new air services agreement, which will facilitate the expansion of flights between the two nations. The new agreement will enable Philippine carriers to fly to as many as three destinations in Russia from any point in the Philippines.

philippines russia air service agreement
Copyright Photo: Maks Maydachenko/Flickr
The discussions were held in Moscow from July 22 to 23 with Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla leading the Philippine delegation, while Sergey Seskutov of the Ministry of Transportation headed the Russian counterparts.

An agreement between the two nations was last updated in 2009. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the new agreement has "enhanced civil aviation cooperation between the two countries."

Philippine carriers will now be able to offer more competitive fares as the new agreement permits the use of Russian airspace by Philippine carriers, which helps to shorten travel time and cut costs travelling between Europe and Asia.

Russian carriers including Aeroflot will now be able to market the Philippines as a holiday destination through their respective networks and alliances. The Philippine Department of Tourism is eager to increase the number of Russian tourists visiting the country.

According to Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr, approximately 40,000 Russians visit the Philippines each year. However, that is a far cry from the combined two million tourists from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which visit the other Asean countries annually.

The Philippines already plays host to a number of charter flights from Russia, which are primarily focused on bringing Russian travellers to Boracay Island. Last year, Philippine Airlines operated charter flights between Manila and Vladivostok.

According to a Russian current affairs website, the Philippines is rising rapidly as a popular destination for Russian tourists. Although most Russians currently prefer Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, many Russian travellers that have visited the Philippines believe that the country offers a lifestyle that is suited to Russian tastes.

In addition, Russian travellers have remarked that the Philippines is "culturally closer" to Russia than many other countries in Asia. While many tourists appreciate the positive attitudes of the Filipino people, public transportation in the country was described as "horrible, slow, and uncomfortable."

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