Cebu Pacific and unit Tiger Airways Philippines have filed applications with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to fly to Myanmar following the conclusion of air talks between the two countries.
The two budget carriers are both asking for an allocation of 1,260 weekly seats between Manila and Yangon in accordance with the recently concluded Air Service Agreement (ASA) entered into by the Governments of the Philippines and Myanmar last month.
On May 20, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on air services allowing the designated airlines of each country a total of 3,780 seats per week, or about three flights per day, between Manila and points in Myanmar. Myanmar has three international airports.
The parties also agreed to unlimited traffic rights between all points in the Philippines, except Manila, and all points in Myanmar.
The MOU states the need to modernize and update the current air services agreement between the two countries that was originally signed in 1979.
Myanmar is a rapidly growing economy of about 60 million people, with a potential for development of direct connectivity with the Philippines.
The two governments held two-day talks from May 19 in Yangon. CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla earlier said seat entitlements were part of the discussions. At the moment, no local carrier flies to Myanmar.
CAB has said that flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Zest have plans to open routes to Myanmar to tap its emerging market and good tourism prospects.
The Philippines successfully concluded air talks with three other countries earlier this year — with France in January, Singapore in February and New Zealand in March.
Starting January 4 this year, Filipinos holding ordinary passports were allowed to enter Myanmar without a visa and stay there for up to 14 days.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said January 4 was the date the agreement between the Philippines and Myanmar on the visa exemption for holders of ordinary passports took effect. The deal was signed during the state visit to the Philippines of Myanmar President U Thein Sein on December 5, 2013.
The visa-free entry agreement is expected to boost tourism, trade, and investment between the two countries.
The Philippine government is pursuing air talks with various countries as part of its open skies policy. Under Executive Order 29, airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are to be opened to accommodate more foreign traffic.