Showing posts with label Airline News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Airline News. Show all posts

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cebu Pacific Considering Long Haul Aircraft and Network Expansion

The CAPA Centre for Aviation reports that low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific is eyeing more orders for long-haul, wide-body aircraft in order to facilitate expansion into the United States and other long haul destinations.  Among the options Cebu Pacific is considering are the Airbus A350, Boeing 787, and upcoming Airbus A330neo.

Copyright photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG

Cebu Pacific already has a presence in the United States with a flight to Guam.  However, it hopes to mount flights to the US mainland, particularly the state of California, one of the largest Filipino markets that is yet to be served by the low-cost carrier.  These plans have been put in the spotlight after the Federal Aviation Administration restored Category 1 status on the Philippines.  This status allows the addition of new flights into the United States and expansion of existing services.

The low-cost carrier now has seven Airbus A330-300s in its fleet with one more expected to arrive in the first half of 2017.  The aircraft seats up to 436 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.  

It also began its foray into long-haul flights in 2013 when it flew to Dubai's International Airport.  It has also made inroads into the Australian market with flights to Sydney, Australia.  There have also been plans to make Rome as its first European destination, although it is unclear how much of a priority this is even as the carrier has been removed from a European Union blacklist of carriers deemed unsafe to fly into the 27-member bloc.  

An increasing number of low-cost carriers have initiated long-haul flights or operated wide-body aircraft in recent years.  One of the most prominent examples is AirAsia through its brand Air Asia X, which operates Airbus A330s to Japan, China, India, and Australia.  

Source: CAPA

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Philippine Airlines and Etihad Ending Partnership?

The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) is suggesting that Philippine Airlines and Etihad might soon consider ending their partnership.  The Manila-based carrier has been reported to not have benefitted significantly from its partnership with its Abu Dhabi-based counterpart.  

Copyright photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG

Currently, both carriers have a codeshare agreement.  Etihad has its own flight numbers on domestic flights operated by Philippine Airlines, while Philippine Airlines also has a flight number on Etihad flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi.  

This suggestion comes as Philippine Airlines is considering a reduced presence in the Middle East in order to focus on expanding in other regions of the world .  Philippine Airlines reestablished its presence in the Middle East in 2013 amidst an ambitious expansion plan rolled out under the ownership of San Miguel Corporation.  In addition to Abu Dhabi, it has served cities such as Dubai, Riyadh, Doha, Dammam, and Jeddah.  In that same period, the flag carrier also received new Airbus A330s, including a high-density version with only regular or premium economy class seats.  This version was mostly utilised in the Middle East.  

A loss of a codeshare agreement with Etihad may also provide renewed opportunities for other Middle Eastern carriers to resume codeshare agreements with Philippine Airlines.  Previously, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Air had codeshare agreements with Philippine Airlines.

CAPA specifically reports that Philippine Airlines is specifically considering new flights in the United States and Europe, which will be priority regions once the Airbus A350 joins the carrier's fleet in 2018.  CAPA is also expanding into Australia by making its Manila-Brisbane flights completely nonstop, as well as into Chengdu, China.  This is as the flag carrier improved its profitability in spite of its rapid expansion.  Such a feat was one of the basis for Philippine Airlines winning the CAPA Asia Pacific 2016 Airline Turnaround of the Year Award. 

In addition to Etihad, Philippine Airlines has existing codeshare agreements with Air Macau, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, WestJet, and Xiamen Air.

Sources: CAPA, Business World , Inquirer

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Philippine Airlines Planning to Order 12 Bombardier Q400 Aircraft

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines has signed a Letter of Intent with Bombardier Commercial Aircraft of Canada to acquire twelve two-class 86-seat Bombardier Q-400 aircraft. Last March, the carrier revealed that it was studying options for the replacement of its existing fleet of regional aircraft operated by PAL Express. 

pal express q400
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
PAL Express currently operates a fleet of four Q300 aircraft and five Q400 aircraft. If the deal pushes through, it would increase the size and capacity of PAL's regional turbo-prop fleet allowing further expansion. In addition, the carrier will be the launch customer of the two-class variant of the Q400.

The 86-seat two-class variant will feature 10 "premium service" seats. According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, the Q400 will serve an integral role in helping the carrier to realize its vision of becoming a 5-star rate airline.

"As we strive to become a 5-star rated airline, the Q400 aircraft, featuring a modern and innovative configuration, will be instrumental in providing our travellers with a world-class, in-flight passenger experience," said Bautista. "We are proud that our continued fleet growth now makes us the first airline to launch service with the two-class, 86-seat Q400 aircraft." Bautista added that Bombardier aircraft have been instrumental in evolving the carrier's domestic network operations over the last decade.

Meanwhile, Bombardier praised the carrier's decision, noting that Philippine Airlines chose the right aircraft for reshaping its domestic air travel strategy. "With its perfect balance of passenger amenities and operational flexibility, the 86-seat Q400 aircraft will offer Philippine Airlines significant opportunities to differentiate itself in the region's fiercely competitive environment," said Fred Cromer, President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "We look forward to working with Philippine Airlines to reach a firm purchase agreement for Q400 aircraft."

The 86-seat variant Bombardier Q400 is the largest two-class turboprop aircraft available on the market offering the lowest seat-mile and operating costs in the regional aircraft market. This will support Philippine Airlines' efforts to develop its domestic operations from secondary hubs and increase intra-island connectivity, as it competes with budget-carrier Cebu Pacific, which recently introduced the ATR 72-600 into its fleet. Cebu Pacific is doubling its turbo-prop fleet as it seeks to increase inter-island travel and establish new bases.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Philippine Airlines Adjusts Flight Schedule Ahead of New Clark Flights

Philippine Airlines is acting on the government's request to shift flights to Clark International Airport in an effort to help decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. As the national flag carrier prepares to launch new flights out of Clark, PAL has revealed a list of domestic flight cancellations at NAIA, which will take effect in September. The cancellations are expected to support the decongestion of the airport.

philippine airlines a320
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The cancellations will affect flights from Manila to the following Philippine airports: Caticlan, Cebu, Calbayog, Kalibo, Laoag, Legaspi, Tablas, and Tuguegarao. Both Caticlan and Cebu will see the largest number of flight cancellations from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

In a statement released by Philippine Airlines, the carrier expressed support of the government initiative to reduce congestion at NAIA and shift some of the workload to Clark, which needs to be better utilised to help alleviate traffic at the country's primary international gateway. "These moves are being carried out in support of the government's thrust to decongest NAIA," stated PAL.

87 percent of all Philippine Airlines flights currently arrive or depart at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. In 2015, the airport already breached its annual maximum capacity of 35 million passengers when more than 36 million travellers passed through the airport. 

Philippine Airlines is counting on the national government to build the necessary infrastructure at Clark International Airport to support expanded flight operations. According to PAL President Jaime Bautista, Clark Airport needs catering services, re-fuelling stations, and better bus service. Bautista believes that the government will set up appropriate infrastructure, once they are made aware that new flights will be coming. 

Meanwhile, any passengers affected by the Philippine Airlines cancellations are invited to contact the airline to re-book their flights or request a refund. Flights can be re-booked within 30 days of the original flight date by calling Philippine Airlines at (02) 855-8888. Alternatively, passengers may also visit the nearest PAL ticketing office.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Clark Airport Under Investigation After Security Breach

A full-scale investigation is under way at Clark International Airport after a man was able to board a flight to Singapore without a passport or even a plane ticket. Airport officials are now under scrutiny following the security lapse.

Image Source: Clark International Airport
According to initial findings reported in the Philippine Inquirer, the intruder, who allegedly claimed to be looking for his wife, entered the terminal at approximately 1:10pm on August 3 through the arrival exit lobby door, having passed all of the security measures in place to ensure efficient screening of passengers at the airport. 

In the Inquirer's report, it was revealed that an unknown source stated that the man headed to the second floor to cross the passengers' boarding bridge to enter the aircraft, after having gained access through the exit door for arriving passengers. He was eventually caught by a flight attendant that asked to see his boarding pass. 

It is rumoured that this may be the second security breach at Clark International Airport this year. The first incident occurred last June, allegedly involving a foreigner. It remains unclear if the intruders were held for questioning or charged in either incident. 

In a memorandum released by Clark International Airport, Emigdio Tanjuatco III, President & CEO of Clark Airport, stated that the incident is completely unacceptable. "Considering that Clark International Airport implements strict security and safety procedures, such incident should not have occurred," said Tanjuatco. "The incident is intolerable as it has created an alarming event that dispels absolute security of the passengers and safety of the whole airport grounds."

Cebu Pacific Expands Routes in the Visayas & Bicol

Cebu Pacific, the nation's largest low-cost carrier, has announced several new routes designed to cater to the needs of passengers in the Visayas and Bicol. In the last month, the budget carrier has announced a number of new or expanded routes including Kalibo-Seoul, Cebu-Ormoc, Cebu-Calbayog, Cebu-Roxas, and Manila-Virac.

cebu pacific virac flights
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Beginning October 1, Cebu Pacific will launch a daily flight between Kalibo and Seoul, Korea aboard its 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. According to Cebu Pacific officials, the new route is designed to create opportunities for travellers to explore some of Asia's most popular tourist destinations. 

"Cebu Pacific gears toward bringing travellers for business and leisure to magnificent countries at the lowest fare in the market," said JR Mantaring, Cebu Pacific's VP of Corporate Affairs. "The new Kalibo-Incheon route opens opportunities for passengers to explore must-see places in Incheon such as Wolmi-Do Island, Landing Memorial Hall, and Jeondeungsa Temple, among others."

The new non-stop flight between the Visayas and South Korea will complement Cebu Pacific's existing services to South Korea including daily flights to Seoul-Incheon from Cebu and Manila, and four weekly flights from Manila to Busan. The budget carrier recently revealed that South Korea is one of its largest short haul international markets.  "We will remain committed to exploring more routes to cater to more passengers and to beef up economic, trade, and tourism in this destination," added Mantaring.

Earlier this month, Cebu Pacific also announced the launch of three new domestic routes out of its hub in Cebu. Beginning on November 19, Cebu Pacific will launch new daily flights from Cebu to Ormoc and Cebu to Roxas. In addition, four-weekly flights between Cebu and Calbayog will be added. All flights will be operated by 72-seat ATR 72-500 aircraft. "With the additional routes in and out of Cebu, more guests can travel and visit scenic spots in the Visayas region," said Mantaring.

Meanwhile, travellers to Bicol will appreciate the added convenience of an additional frequency on Cebu Pacific's Manila to Virac route. The service, which is operated by a 156-seat Airbus A319 aircraft, will be increased to a total of five weekly flights. The new service is expected to boost connections in the Bicol region, complementing Cebu Pacific's existing flights from Manila and Cebu to Legazpi, and from Manila to Naga. 

Removal of Philippine Travel Tax Proposed

The Department of Tourism is exploring the possibility of removing or reducing the Philippine Travel Tax in an effort to make travel more affordable for Filipinos. At present, Philippine passport holders are assessed a tax of P1,620 for those seated in economy class, while first class passengers are charged P2,700. The tax is imposed on passengers leaving the Philippines irrespective of their destination. 
Image Source: The Poor Traveler
Citizens of the Philippines are required to pay the tax, along with foreign passport holders under special circumstances. However, the travel tax does not apply to all Filipinos and there are exemptions for overseas workers and permanent residents of other countries. In addition, a reduced travel tax is available to dependants of overseas Filipino workers.
According to Tourism Undersecretary Katherine De Castro, the Department is currently reviewing the travel tax system to identify if there is an opportunity to either reduce the tax or remove it altogether. 
"It still needs a lot of review. It's an ambitious part from the end of the DOT," said De Castro in an interview with the Philippine Star. "Travelling in the Philippines is not cheap. If we can't remove it totally, we want to at least lower it."
Proceeds of the travel tax are currently split between the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, the Commission on Higher Education, and the National Commission for Culture and Arts. "We're looking at the fact that a percentage of the travel tax goes to the Commission on Higher Education, which is in no way connected to travelling at all," added De Castro.
To date, the Department of Tourism has removed the P200 processing fee assessed for the issuance of Travel Tax Exemption and Reduced Travel Tax certificates, which came into effect on July 25. In addition, the Department would like to see the travel tax incorporated into airline tickets similarly to the passenger terminal fee at select airports in the Philippines.
De Castro noted that all carriers will be expected to incorporate the fee into their tickets, regardless if they are a full-service or low-cost carrier. "It's inconvenient in such a way that you think you're already checked in, but in fact, you are not, so you would still have to line up in another booth to pay for your travel tax."

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tugade: Change is Coming to Improve, Develop, and Construct Philippine Airports

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade is eyeing development and construction of at least six airports at the beginning of President Rodrigo Duterte's term. In the short term, the government plans to develop Clark International Airport to address congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, as plans are developed for a brand new international airport.

Image Source: Wikimedia
According to Tugade, Clark International Airport has the space and facilities necessary to handle some of the traffic, while the Ninoy Aquino International Airport can still remain useful over the next seven years. 

"In Clark, you have the space," said Tugade. "The development must be pushed and pushed hard at the Clark International Airport. The remedy for Clark and NAIA is they can co-exist and therefore, they must be improved and developed."

The decision to develop the country's two major international airports is earning mass support across the country and in various sectors of government including the Philippine Senate where Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III stated that he would push the Senate to advocate for the development of NAIA and Clark International Airport. According to Pimentel, the nation needs the airports as its main international gateways. He added that NAIA could serve South Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to Bicol, while Clark International Airport can serve North Metro Manila and Northern Philippines.

Meanwhile, Tugade remains open and eager to develop more Private-Public Partnerships for other airports, similar to what was established for Mactan-Cebu International Airport. However, Tugade indicated that he will only support such initiatives if the companies do not ask the government for cash, sovereign guarantees, or obligatory transfer of aircraft from other airports. The Duterte administration plans to cut the PPP bidding process down to six months to help expedite infrastructure projects. 

Unlike his predecessors, Tugade is eager to create change and deliver results acting on previous plans that the previous administration failed to enact. Tugade has identified a number of priorities that he intends to carry out in his early days of office including:
  • Expediting the installation of ILS and night landing lights at a number of the nation's airports in order to enable them to handle night flight operations. This will give airlines greater freedom to schedule flights around the clock and minimise congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport during daylight hours. 
  • Making Clark International Airport a viable alternative to Ninoy Aquino International Airport by establishing transportation links to create seamless connectivity between Clark and Metro Manila. 
  • Enhance the quality and efficiency of operations at Ninoy Aquino International Airport by establishing another parallel runway, improving facilities, and improving services, while a brand new airport is constructed. 
  • Improve the experience in the various terminals at NAIA. Terminal 1 will see improvements to passenger comfort and safety including the removal of a steep ramp that arriving passengers were forced to use to access their vehicles. Terminal 2 will also be expanded. 
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, once voted the world's worst airport, will see a number of on-going improvements to create a better passenger experience. Secretary Tugade is promising better enforcement of traffic rules around the terminals and an overhaul of rules covering public transportation including taxis to help improve the flow of traffic. 

Inside the terminals, Tugade wants to remove the first x-ray check at the entrance of all terminals to help improve the flow of departing passengers. This is a practice that is not currently done at most international airports around the world. 

With the removal of private and civilian aircraft at NAIA, additional space will be made available to develop additional apron parking for aircraft and rapid exit taxiways, which will help improve the flow of air traffic on the ground and increase overall efficiency at the airport. The government will also implement strict flight scheduling and slot utilization rules. 

The Department of Transportation also intends to implement recommendations made by a British consultant on runway optimization and the regulation of general aviation during peak hours, which will help improve efficiency and reduce congestion. The potential of this initiative will be realized further once night landing capabilities have been installed at domestic airports. 

Tugade also intends to enhance services provided at Clark International Airport. With a pending plan to eventually shift turbo-prop flights to Clark, Tugade wants to ensure that Clark is equipped with the facilities to handle increased passenger traffic but also diverted flights from NAIA. This includes the purchase of stairs used by aircraft to disembark passengers. 

In addition, Tugade also intends to improve services at Clark for overseas Filipino workers to make the airport more user-friendly for arriving and departing OFW's. This will encourage more OFW's and airlines to use Clark as an alternative to NAIA.

Tugade also promised a review of the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, noting that keeping passengers inside diverted aircraft for lengthy periods of time is not only unacceptable but inhumane. He intends to revisit the rules, which government when passengers should be provided with meals and accommodations by airlines. 

However, one change that remains uncertain is if the government will rename the country's primary international gateway back to its original name as the Manila International Airport. In a recent survey conducted on the Philippine Flight Network website, 75% of respondents voted that the airport's name should be changed from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Manila International Airport. 

References: Philippine Star

Philippine Airlines Studies Transfer of Flights to Clark Following Government Request

Philippine Airlines is now studying the possibility of transferring its turbo-prop flights to Clark International Airport, following a request from the Philippine government to consider the idea of transforming Clark International Airport into a hub for domestic flights in another effort to decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to evaluate the concept of using Clark International Airport as a domestic flight hub. According to Jaime Bautista, CEO of Philippine Airlines, the national flag carrier is considering the idea to prevent further frustration for passengers. 
"We are working on it," said Bautista. "The reason why the government wants us to move some flights to Clark is because we want to decongest Manila to prevent inconvenience to the passengers." However, Bautista reaffirmed that not all domestic flights would be transferred and that the airline still needs to study the proposal further to assess the impact on passengers and operating costs before making any decisions. 
"We will work with them," said Bautista. "We will present to them our position." However, Bautista added that the Philippine government needs to provide additional infrastructure prior to shifting additional flight operations to Clark. But Philippine Airlines is not the only carrier that has been asked to transfer flights. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told reporters that his agency plans to ask all airlines to transfer their turbo-prop flights to Clark as the government works to decongest NAIA.
PAL is currently eyeing to acquire new turbo-prop aircraft next year to replace its existing fleet of ageing regional aircraft. The company plans to make a purchase in 2017 or 2018. Philippine Airlines currently operates a fleet of nine Bombardier turbo-prop aircraft. 
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila is expected to exceed its maximum handling capacity this year, when the airport is estimated to serve 37.78 million passengers. However, the airport was only built to handle a capacity of 35 million passengers annually.
In response to Bautista's call for additional infrastructure at Clark prior to transferring flights, President Duterte added that the government will study the possibility of enhancing road or rail access to the airport in Pampanga to help facilitate the transfer of domestic flights. 
The President indicated that the use of Clark for domestic flights is only intended as a short-term measure, while the government studies construction of a brand new airport near the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport. "I don't know if we have the money to build an airport in Sangley," said Duterte. "If investors will come in, then go but for the meantime, we have to remedy the overcrowded sky of NAIA."
The President himself described his own experience of air traffic congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, when the commercial flight he was travelling aboard nearly ran out of fuel while waiting for its turn to land in Manila. "We have been turning around and we are in danger of running out of fuel," said Duterte. "I think it's only good for 17 minutes. Mabuti na lang pina-landing kami. I don't want special treatment."
President Duterte recently reaffirmed his solidarity with the Philippine travelling public shunning any special treatment and directing his cabinet to reject any special treatment. "I want this stopped. We should not be treated different from the other suffering Filipino passengers," said Duterte. "We should treat ourselves just like any other Filipino travelling."
Duterte added that he intends to take ordinary commercial flights and transfer the aviation assets of the Philippine President over to the military. "Akala siguro nila bibili ako. Kasi sabi ko 'yung lahat ng [planes] I am turning it over to the military pati 'yung mga assets ng Pangulo. Gawin na natin ospital 'yan. Put it to good use rather than allow it to rust to death," stated Duterte.

Meanwhile, the government plans to act on a previous recommendation to remove all cargo and private aircraft from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a further effort to decongest the airport. According to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, they will be transferred to Sangley Point in Cavite, Laguna Lake, or Fernando Air Base. Tugade's Department of Transportation plans to issue notice to general aviation operators within his first 100 days in office. 

Cebu Pacific Increases A330 Wide-body Fleet

Cebu Pacific, the nation's largest low cost carrier, is increasing the size of its long-haul division, with the addition of two A330-300 aircraft. The budget carrier placed a firm order with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to add two new wide-body aircraft to Cebu Pacific's existing fleet of six A330 aircraft. 
cebu pacific airbus a330
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to Lance Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Pacific, the A330 has established itself as the aircraft of choice for low-cost carriers. "The A330 has proven to be the right choice for our long haul low fare product," said Gokongwei. "The newly ordered aircraft will enable us to add more long haul routes, including the launch of our first flights to the US."

Although Cebu Pacific has not revealed which routes the new aircraft will be deployed on, there is strong possibility that the aircraft will be utilised on a new non-stop route from Manila to Honolulu, Hawaii, and a route to Melbourne, Australia, after the success Cebu Pacific experienced in the Sydney market. 

Cebu Pacific originally launched service to Sydney, Australia in September 2014. Although it took time for the new route to mature, the carrier carried a leading 138,793 passengers between Manila and Sydney in 2015, earning itself a dominant 41 percent share of the market. The carrier continues to fly four to five weekly flights between the two cities.

According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Cebu Pacific previously planned to launch flights between Melbourne and Manila by the end of 2015. However, delays were caused by the failure to secure a gate in Manila for the new route. 

The latest indications suggest that Melbourne and Honolulu remain possible destinations for 2016. The addition of the two new wide-body aircraft make this an even strong possibility. Although Cebu Pacific could redeploy one of its existing A330 aircraft to operate Melbourne flights, the carrier wants to continue utilising the aircraft on domestic trunk routes in order to maintain market share. With the acquisition of the new aircraft now complete, the launch of Melbourne flights hinges on the carrier's ability to secure the necessary gates and slots.

Meanwhile, Airbus expressed its gratitude for the order, re-affirming the efficiency of the Airbus A330 aircraft, which makes it an ideal fit for long-haul low-cost operations. "This order from Cebu Pacific is another endorsement of the unrivalled efficiency of the A330 for profitable long haul low cost services," said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operation Officer, Customers. "Combining low operating costs, proven reliability and a great passenger experience, the A330 is the clear preferred choice of airlines in this competitive market segment."

The A330 aircraft remains one of the most popular wide-body aircraft ever built having won more than 1,600 orders. Currently, there are more than 1,300 aircraft of its type flying around the world with approximately 120 different airlines. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Completion of Bicol International Airport Delayed to August 2018

Completing the Bicol International Airport remains a top priority for Former Albay Governor Joey Salceda as he takes on his new role as the newly elected representative of Albay's second congressional district. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in July 2017, but was delayed to August 2018 due to the failure of the previous administration to award contracts.

Image Source: Business World Online
Earlier this year, Salceda wrote to former Department of Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya requesting to expedite the awarding of the contract for phase 2A of the Bicol International Airport, which includes the construction of landside facilities. 

Lawmakers in Bicol have remained frustrated over the past months as on-going delays "due to technicalities" continue to cost the region billions of pesos in opportunity losses from what would be increased tourism and enhanced economic activity.

The new airport is expected to trigger economic growth in the Bicol region, as the new airport delivers a safe, economical, and faster way of reaching local and international destinations. The P4.7 billion project is currently under construction in Daraga, Albay. It will feature a 13,320 square meter two-storey passenger terminal and separate cargo facility. 

Salceda expects that the development of the new airport will bring approximately five million tourists to the region by 2025, investments totalling nearly US$1 billion, and 235,000 jobs within the next decade.

The Bicol International Airport, coupled with two other infrastructure projects, the South Luzon Expressway extension and the South Luzon Railway, are all expected to transform Bicol into a new investment haven in southern Luzon.

The City of Naga has also faced delays with improvements to its airport. Naga is not expected to see completion of an airport expansion project until 2019. Last year, the National Economic and Development Authority approved an expansion of the terminal building and runway re-orientation to accommodate larger jets. 

However, the airport expansion project caused the demise of another project originally announced in 2012 to install a P50 million airfield lighting system that would have enabled Naga Airport to conduct night flight operations and expand the current number of flights to the city. The decision cost the city millions of pesos in lost economic activity and tourism growth as Naga has been forced to wait until 2019 before it can realize any growth through its airport.

Meanwhile, as the seventeenth Congress is slated to begin on July 25, incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel has placed the development of the country's two major international airports at the top of his agenda. Pimentel stated earlier this week that he will push for the development of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Clark International Airport. 

"We need the two airports as our main international gateways," said Pimentel. "NAIA to serve South Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to Bicol, and Clark to serve North Metro Manila and Northern Philippines, to ease travel and flow of logistics."

Philippine Carriers Fail to Impress at World Airline Awards

Long considered the "Oscars of the aviation industry," the World Airline Awards highlight the best airlines across a number of categories representing the global benchmark in airline excellence. Dubai-based Emirates clinched the top spot as the World's Best Airline for 2016, while Philippine Airlines finished in 83rd place.

air asia best low cost airline
Image Source: Skytrax
Although Philippine Airlines improved its ranking from the 2015 World Airline Awards where it finished in 87th place, Philippine carriers failed to impress in any of the categories at the 2016 ceremony. 

At the 2016 World Airline Awards, two Gulf carriers claimed the top two places, while Singapore Airlines finished in third place.

The World's Top Ten Airlines in 2016
  1. Emirates 
  2. Qatar Airways 
  3. Singapore Airlines 
  4. Cathay Pacific 
  5. ANA 
  6. Etihad Airways 
  7. Turkish Airlines 
  8. EVA Air 
  9. Qantas Airways 
  10. Lufthansa
When rated according to region, Philippine Airlines did not make the list of the Best Airlines in Asia for 2016 either, while Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and All Nippon Airways claimed the top three spots.

The Best Airlines in Asia
  1. Singapore Airlines 
  2. Cathay Pacific 
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways 
  4. EVA Air 
  5. Garuda Indonesia 
  6. Hainan Airlines 
  7. Thai Airways 
  8. Asiana Airlines 
  9. Bangkok Airways 
  10. Japan Airlines
In the category for "Best Transpacific Airline," which assesses carriers operating routes between Asia/Australasia and North/South America based on the quality of their product and staff service, Taiwan-based EVA Air clinched the top spot, followed by ANA of Japan and Cathay Pacific of Hong Kong.

The Best Transpacific Airlines
  1. EVA Air 
  2. ANA All Nippon Airways 
  3. Cathay Pacific
Meanwhile, in the best low-cost airline category, AirAsia clinched the top spot for the eighth consecutive year, while Norwegian was named best long haul low-cost airline. The awards are based on a customer satisfaction assessment of product and staff service.

Best Low-Cost Airlines in Asia
  1. AirAsia 
  2. AirAsiaX 
  3. Indigo 
  4. Jetstar Asia 
  5. Scoot 
  6. Peach 
  7. Tigerair Singapore 
  8. SpiceJet 
  9. Spring Airlines 
  10. Nok Air
According to Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, in spite of receiving the coveted award for an eighth consecutive year, his airline intends to continue improving its customer service, while introducing new technologies that make flying easier. "We can be better," said Fernandes. "We want to improve our customer service, including how we communicate with our customers." Air Asia has affiliates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and the Philippines.

Although Cebu Pacific did not place in the top-ten low-cost airlines in Asia, it did place in fifth place in the Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia/Pacific category.

Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia/Pacific
  1. Jetstar Airways 
  2. AirAsiaX 
  3. Scoot 
  4. Tigerair Australia 
  5. Cebu Pacific
Each year, travellers from around the world participate in the world's largest airline passenger satisfaction survey to determine the winners. With more than 19 million customers from 104 nationalities surveyed around the world, assessing standards in 41 key performance indicators, the Skytrax world airline awards are widely considered the Passengers Choice awards for airline performance.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Air Asia Orders 100 Airbus A321neo Aircraft

AirAsia and Airbus have announced a firm order for 100 Airbus A321neo aircraft at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow. The move represents a shift away from AirAsia's exclusive fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft as the carrier attempts to meet growing demand at congested airports in Asia.

airasia a321
Image Source: Airbus
AirAsia is currently the largest operator of Airbus single aisle aircraft. With the announcement of an additional 100 aircraft, AirAsia has ordered a total of 575 A320 family aircraft from Airbus. Currently, Airbus has delivered more than 170 A320 aircraft to the AirAsia family including its affiliates in Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines. However, this is the first order for the 240-seat Airbus A321 aircraft placed by the Asian budget carrier, recently voted World's Best Low-Cost Airline for the eighth consecutive year.

AirAsia plans to use the aircraft to increase capacity, while enjoying the lowest operating costs in the single aisle aircraft category by leveraging the increased efficiency and higher capacity of the A321neo on high-density routes. Currently, AirAsia's A320 fleet seats 180 passengers. The new version of the A321neo has the ability to seat up to 240 passengers, which will provide AirAsia with 33% more capacity that will enable the carrier to optimise service on high-density routes.

According to AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, the carrier  recorded a robust load factor in the first quarter of 2016 and it is believed that the positive momentum will continue well into the future. "AirAsia Group currently operates close to 1,000 flights per day to more than 120 destinations in 24 countries. The A321neo will help us to meet ongoing strong demand as well as further reduce our cost per Available Seat Kilometre across the group, which will translate to lower air fares for our guests," said Fernandes. 

Congestion at airports in Southeast Asia remains a major problem for carriers that are trying to meet growing demand. This is especially evident at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, where slots are at a premium due to their limited availability. This has triggered both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, the nation's largest low-cost carrier, to also place orders for the larger A321 aircraft. 

Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines faces a similar problem in that the only way it can expand capacity in Manila is to increase the size of aircraft it utilises on existing flights, as increasing the number of flights out of Manila is not possible at this time. That makes it highly likely that some of the new A321 aircraft ordered by AirAsia will be headed for the carrier's Philippine unit.

"The A321neo will be operated on our most popular routes and especially at airports with infrastructure constraints. It will allow us to bring higher passenger volumes with the same slots, therefore providing immediate benefits to the airports. These include, among others, more efficient operations, higher revenues from passenger service charges, and more airport retail purchases. We will also continue to maintain our 25-minute turnaround with two or three-step boarding where permitted to ensure on-time performance," added Fernandes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Change is in the Air: Philippine President Flies Economy

Maintaining his simplistic lifestyle, President Duterte set yet another example as the country's chief executive when he boarded a commercial flight from Manila to Davao last week. The new President of the Philippines shunned all special treatment at Ninoy Aquino International Airport including the use of the Presidential private jet as he walked through security just like a regular passenger.

president duterte
Photo Credit: Presidential Photographers Division/King Rodriguez
In an article published in the Philippine Star, photos released by the Presidential Communications Office showed President Duterte seated in Premium Economy Class aboard a Philippine Airlines flight bound for Davao. Duterte sat at a window seat aboard flight PR1825 that departed Manila at 9:00pm last Thursday night.

Other photos showed Duterte walking through the x-ray and metal scanners, raising his arms for inspection, just like a regular passenger as he walked to his boarding gate at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2. 

duterte humble president
Photo Credit: Presidential Photographers Division/King Rodriguez
Passengers at the airport cheered as they observed Duterte enter the building, passing through the regular security check as a common Filipino citizen. In his first cabinet meeting following his inauguration on June 30, Duterte instructed all of his Cabinet members to shun priority treatment at the airports. "We should treat ourselves just like any other Filipino travelling," said the Philippine President. 

In addition, Duterte made it clear that he does not want any government officials, especially Cabinet members, flying Business Class while travelling. Duterte also plans to remove the presidential no-fly zone when he flies in and out of the country's main gateway. In the past, the no-fly zone has caused disruption and delay at the airport to the frustration and inconvenience of passengers.

philippine government aircraft
"The Presidential Jet"
Image Source: Global Aviation Resource
Duterte's special assistant Christopher Go and members of the Presidential Security Group accompanied Duterte on the Philippine Airlines flight. The President was on his way to attend the Hari Raya Festival in Davao.

President Duterte intends to split his work week between Manila and Davao City. Duterte is the nation's sixteenth President. He is known for his simple living in spite of serving as Mayor of Davao for twenty-three years.

References: Philippine Star

New Transportation Secretary Seeks Support of Airlines for Airport Maintenance

The Duterte administration is beginning to make changes at the country's primary international gateway as it seeks to shed its reputation as one of the world's worst airports. The nation's new Transportation Secretary, Arthur Tugade, has sought the help of airlines operating at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila to maintain the public restrooms at all terminals.

Image Source: Inviva Link
According to Tugade, the company that originally won the bidding to maintain the airport's utilities has been performing below the standards necessary to maintain a quality service, which triggered the new Transportation Secretary to make changes.

"One of the basic problems which irritated the community is the issue of maintenance of the washrooms and utilities inside the airport. So it has come to me that one way to approach this is to remove the activity from government and give it to the people that are operating in the airport," Tugade said. The plan now is to remove the existing company from government service and transfer maintenance of the facilities to the private sector, led by the nation's top airlines.

On July 7, Philippine carriers were asked to sign a memorandum of agreement indicating that they would accept responsibility for improving and maintaining the airport's toilets and utilities. The airlines welcomed the decision, which came as a surprise to Tugade given that it would mean increased costs for the nation's carriers.

"I asked Mr. Lance (Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Pacific), sabi ko, 'Sir puwede ho bang humingi ng tulong?' At sabi niya, 'You know Art just ask for help and my company and group of companies will extend our support and cooperation,'" Tugade said. "That was the same situation when I talked to other airlines." he added.

The airlines that signed the Memorandum of Agreement include Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia Philippines, PAL Express, Cebgo, and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions. The signatories included the following:

  • Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei
  • Philippine Airlines President and COO Jaime Bautista
  • AirAsia Philippines COO Capt. Dexter Comendador
  • PAL Express President Bonifacio Sam
  • Cebgo President and CEO Michael Ivan Shau
  • Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions AVP Leah de Guzman Jore.

Tugade added that the entire experience was positive as it demonstrated cooperation between the airlines and the new government. "Napakaganda nitong experience at ceremony na ito because it shows how far the business community is willing to show the support and cooperation to the Duterte administration," Tugade said.

NAIA remains a 'worst airport'

The premier gateway of the Philippines was listed as one of the world's worst airports ranked by the online website, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports from 2011 to 2013. The airport significantly improved its ranking in 2014 finishing in fourth place, while in 2015, it was knocked off the list entirely. However, it is still remains the eighth worst airport in Asia.

Image Source: Wikimedia
"Passengers remain annoyed by the poor customer service, the long queues, the sub-par food selection, the lack of restrooms and the crowded seating areas. There is definitely a long way to go but we're thrilled to see improvements come along bit by bit."  stated the Sleeping in Airports website.

Since taking office, the Duterte administration has wasted no time in making changes at the country's top airport, acting on the feedback of both passengers and airlines. The decision to transfer control of airport maintenance to the private sector represents a shift from the previous administration, which preferred government control and oversight of the nation's airports rather than cooperating with private companies. In 2014, San Miguel Corporation presented a P10 billion proposal to construct a brand new airport for Manila. However, the Aquino administration refused to acknowledge unsolicited bids. Meanwhile, following the success at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, there is a stronger desire to shift management of the nation's airports to the private sector.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Air New Zealand Postpones Manila Service

Air New Zealand has announced that it will be postponing the launch of its non-stop service between Auckland and Manila. In a statement released to travel agents, Air New Zealand cited administrative reasons as the cause for the delay.

air new zealand manila
Image Source: Wikimedia
"Administrative delays in being able to make the new route available for sale, coupled with the traditionally longer booking window for this market, have led to the deferral decision," said Air New Zealand. "The service was to launch in December 2016, but has now been deferred until further notice."

Earlier this year, Air New Zealand made an announcement that it was growing its network in the Pacific Rim by launching the only non-stop flight between New Zealand and the Philippines.  The service was to begin in December with three weekly flights operated by a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. The carrier was hoping to begin ticket sales by the end of the first half of this year. 

Last April, Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon indicated that the carrier had great confidence in the new route. "The Filipino population in New Zealand has more than tripled since 2001 and is now the third largest Asian ethnic group with around 40,000 Filipinos resident in New Zealand," said Luxon. "The number of visitors from the Philippines is also continuing to grow rapidly, up more than 20 percent in the past year alone so we're anticipating that demand for this service will be steady in both directions."

When Air New Zealand begins flying to Manila, it will be the fastest flight between the two nations at approximately 10.5 hours. "As the only non-stop service between New Zealand and the Philippines, our flight will be quicker and more convenient for travellers than the fastest current option, which flies indirect, potentially saving up to two and a half hours each way," added Luxon.

Although no specific details were given regarding the administrative delays, it is highly likely that the cause can be attributed to the limited supply of slots available at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which would make it challenging for Air New Zealand to obtain their preferred schedule.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand-Philippines market continues to be served by one-stop products including the Philippine Airlines service from Manila to Auckland via Cairns. The national flag carrier launched the service last December with Airbus narrow-body aircraft.

References: Australian Aviation

Monday, July 4, 2016

Caticlan Airport Construction Continues, SMC Plans Bridge to Boracay

Although construction of the Caticlan Airport runway extension has been completed, the new gateway to Boracay Island remains far from completion. Work on the airport's new apron seems nearly complete, while construction of the brand new terminal building has yet to begin.

caticlan airport
Image Source: CAZA
According to Ramon Ang, President of San Miguel Corporation, which controls the Caticlan Airport through its affiliate TransAire Development Holdings, the upgrade of the existing airport has been completed, while the new terminal is all the remains to be constructed. 

caticlan airport
Image Source: CAZA
In an interview with the Philippine Inquirer, Ang stated that, "The Caticlan Airport could already accommodate big jets." He added that a temporary terminal is being set up that would be able to accommodate the increased volume of passengers travelling through Caticlan. The temporary terminal is expected to be completed within the next six months. 

caticlan airport
Image Source: CAZA
A number of local and foreign carriers are already lining up to shift their A320 and Boeing 737 flights to Caticlan Airport. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, this may lead to over capacity in the Manila-Caticlan market, while Kalibo Airport may suffer from under-capacity as airlines switch flights to Caticlan.

caticlan airport
Image Source: Skyscraper City Forums
In addition to the construction of a larger airport passenger terminal and the extension of the runway, San Miguel Corporation plans a complete rehabilitation that includes improvement of road networks, air traffic control aids, and an upgrade of the airport facilities. It is envisioned for Caticlan Airport to be on par with some of the best airports in the region. 

caticlan airport
Image Source: Skyscraper City Forums
However, San Miguel Corporation recently unveiled an even bigger plan for Caticlan as it proposed to construct a 1.9 kilometre toll bridge that would connect the tiny community with the world-famous Boracay Island, which is presently only accessible by boat. 

According to Ang, the project would cost an estimated $100 million at current exchange rates and it would be up to the local government unit to award the contract to a private sector firm. "We proposed the idea for them to bid out," said Ang. "For us, it's okay if there are other bidders."

Ang believes that the new project would enhance connectivity and convenience for tourists. "They can all live in Caticlan and enjoy the view in Boracay, which is now so congested and has a lot of sewage problems." Ang intends to develop Caticlan to help decongest Boracay Island, while also providing services such as a hospital, retail complex, convention centre, hotels, and restaurants. "It would be possible for tourists to find cheaper accommodations in Caticlan," added Ang. "We think what's best is if everybody will stay and eat in Caticlan, and then go to Boracay to enjoy the beach."

The Caticlan Airport upgrade is expected to transform Boracay into a more affordable holiday destination as the increase in regional and domestic flights drives down airfare costs. But not everyone is convinced that this expansion is good for the community or the environment. 

Caticlan residents have asked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and San Miguel Corporation to provide a clearer picture on how they intend to expand the airport and surrounding area. In an interview with the Manila Bulletin, an official from Barangay Caticlan revealed that the Department of Transportation and TransAire Development Holdings have yet to present an actual master development plan for expansion of the airport. 

caticlan airport
Image Source: CAZA
Although the last round of inter-agency dialogue took place in March of this year, no concrete answers have been provided to the estimated 8,000 local residents that will be heavily affected by the airport's expansion. 

A protest was held last year over the low amount that was offered by TransAire for residential lands that will be impacted by expansion of the airport. According to a barangay official, low-income families were left with no choice but to accept the low payment of P1,000 per square metre when market values ranged from P5,000 to P10,000 per square meter. 

Barangay Caticlan residents have expressed frustration with the "unjust" manner in which the Caticlan Airport expansion has been implemented. Residents claim that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines fast-tracked the process to allow TransAire to begin the initial phase of expansion. 

According to residents, no public hearing ever took place on what seems to be a non-inclusive development project that is likely to leave poor families behind. "Families have already been evicted and have become squatters to give way to the airport expansion project," said Barangay Caticlan Secretary Hazel De Los Reyes.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fixing NAIA (Part 1): The Case for Privatised Airports in the Philippines

The future growth of the Philippine economy will depend heavily on reliable and affordable air transportation. With the introduction of low-cost carriers to the Philippine market, commercial aviation is no longer a luxury reserved for the elite but rather a service that is now available to a wide segment of the Filipino population. But by the same token that the Philippines is estimated to lose P2.4 billion daily due to traffic congestion in Manila, the same can be said for the nation's primary international gateway where airlines cannot open new routes or increase service due to congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Image Source: Live Philippines
Air transportation plays a major role in the economy as it fuels tourism, business travel, and trade. But growth of air transportation relies heavily on the nation's aviation infrastructure. At present, the nation's major commercial airports are virtually all owned and operated by the Philippine government with the exception of Caticlan and Cebu Airports, which are operated by the private sector.

Many analysts have already written reports indicating that the demand for air travel in the Philippines is expected to surge. However, the nation is not presently equipped to handle the growth with the current aviation infrastructure in place. In addition, there is a shortage of air traffic controllers in the country as many have been lured to work overseas. Major change is necessary as the increased air traffic will one day prove to exceed the limits of the present air traffic control system in the Philippines.

The Philippines has been slow to embrace the types of reforms necessary to address these issues. Such reforms include the privatization of airports and the commercialization of air traffic control services, which have already been adopted in many countries around the world and been integrated successfully.

Unlike the Philippine government, commercialized air traffic control agencies and investor-owned and operated airports such as the Mactan-Cebu International Airport are in a much better position to respond to changing market conditions. In addition, they are able to freely tap debt and equity markets for capital expansion to satisfy growth in demand.

In a report published in the United States and authored by Robert Poole, Director of Transportation Policy for the Reason Foundation, Poole advocates that such enterprises are also better equipped to address workforce issues and complex technology implementation as a result of greater management flexibility.

Poole highlights vast foreign experience that can be used as a model in the pursuit of reforms for the aviation industry including the privatization of airports in Europe and the commercialization of air traffic control in Canada. Although the majority of commercial airports in the Philippines are owned by the Philippine government, the trend around the world is for airports to be viewed more as a business enterprise, rather than a monopolistic public service. 

Even former Philippine Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya came to the realization that airports perform better when operated as a business enterprise. "It should be run like a hotel," said Abaya. "There should be an attention to detail, and the importance of customer service and efficiency should be a main priority." Consequently, governments in developed and developing nations are now looking to the private sector for airport development and management. 

An entrepreneurial approach to airport management will increase operating efficiency, improve passenger amenities, and lead to rapid expansion to reduce congestion. Ultimately, all major stakeholders from passengers to airlines and taxpayers benefit from this commercial approach to airport management.
Poole notes in his report that the simplest form of privatization for existing airports is to contract out management of the airport on a short-term basis. However, long-term leases are more likely to provide incentive to private operators to invest more in the development of the airport, shifting responsibility from the government to the private sector.

In terms of the development of new airports, the private sector can either be granted a long-term contract to finance, design, and operate the facility, or they can be granted full private ownership and management as is seen in many airports throughout Europe. Britain led the way in 1987 as the British Airports Authority was privatised. Some other examples of privatised airports include London, Rome, Sydney, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. In the case of Australia, most of the nation's major airports have been privatised or contracted out under long-term leases.

Another benefit of airport privatisation can be derived from the deregulation of the airline industry. As deregulation occurs, new airlines enter the market, prices fall, and the volume of air traffic increases significantly. This enables more people to travel and consumers to save money.

Unfortunately, under the existing system, existing airlines operating in the Philippines are unable to expand and new entrants are unable to enter the market as Ninoy Aquino International Airport is already too congested and there are limited slots available for new entrants, which stifles the growth of air traffic and competition. Most recently, this issue led the President of Philippine Airlines to ask the Duterte administration to prioritise addressing congestion at the nation's airports to enable the national flag carrier to expand.

Since its inception, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has been run in an old-fashioned and bureaucratic manner. However, investor-owned airports are operated like businesses with the goal of making profits and tailoring services to meet the varying needs of customers including passengers and airlines. In his report, Poole cites detailed research performed by scholars at Oxford University, which demonstrates that the management approach of privatised airports is significantly more "passenger friendly" than that of traditional airports.

Meanwhile, air traffic control in the Philippines is predicted to face challenges as air travel demand outpaces the ability of the existing system to expand capacity. One issue is whether future projected system funding will be in line with the rising air traffic, as the system already faces shortfalls in labour due to poor remuneration in the industry.

The best way to address this issue is to remove the Air Traffic Control system out of the hands of government and to create a self-supporting entity that would be funded directly by its customers. Instead of charging aviation related taxes, fees for air traffic control services would be paid directly by customers to a new self-sustaining Air Traffic Control organization. This would enable revenue to grow at a consistent pace with increased flight activity. In addition, commercialization would also address management problems such as the labour shortage, enabling a new organization to attract the best skilled labour necessary to adequately satisfy the demands of the industry.

Canada was one of the first countries to pioneer the commercialization of the ATC system. In 1996, a private, not for profit ATC corporation was set up by the Canadian government called Nav Canada. The system has earned worldwide praise for its sound finances, solid management, and investment in new technologies, which are all self-supporting and funded by charges levied on aviation users.

Overall, studies have determined that the commercialization of air traffic control has typically resulted in improvements to service quality, better management, and a reduction in cost. More importantly, air safety has remained the same in countries that have pursued such reforms.

Airline competition can expand, which would benefit consumers, if the Philippines reformed the antiquated ownership and management structures of Philippine airports. As the world shifts to operating airports as a for-profit enterprise as opposed to a government subsidised service, the Philippines must adopt a similar paradigm that is more consistent in fostering a dynamic and competitive airline industry.

References: Airports & Air Traffic Control