If there were reason to rejoice, the Philippine travel industry would. Specifically, the country’s two flag carriers – Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific – should be happy that the European Union removed the Philippines from its aviation safety blacklist this week.
The lifting of the ban means that our planes can now fly directly to any of the 28-member countries of the EU.
Sadly, it’s been a long, long time since PAL has been flying to any country in Europe. As for Cebu Pacific, the newer of the country’s two “international” airlines, it has never flown to any European destination.
The lifting of the ban is therefore pretty meaningless from our end. It’s like saying that a person on a strict diet for medical reasons is now allowed entry to an all-you-can-eat restaurant.
The door to the European market may be open to PAL and CebuPac, but they don’t appear to have any plans of entering the regions in the near future.
But at least the various European airlines can now bring their tourists and business travelers directly to the Philippines legally. Prior to the lifting of the ban, any European who wanted to fly to the country had to go about it the roundabout way.
He or she had to purchase tickets online, from non-EU travel agencies.
The one good thing for local travelers is that the EU agrees that the country has done much to upgrade the safety situation, for the airlines as well as the country’s various international airports. Europeans and Filipinos can take heart in the fact that travel within the country is much safer now compared to a few years ago, when security was generally deemed lax.
Sadly for us, however, advisories issued by various countries against travel to the Philippines remain, specifically in parts of Mindanao. But that’s another matter altogether.
The end of the ban also means that the Department of Tourism can now aggressively market the country in the EU, and insist that it’s really more fun in the Philippines.