The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday welcomed the signing of Protocols 5 and 6 of the Asean Multilateral Agreement in Air Services (MAAS), which will allow local carriers to fly unlimited frequencies to and beyond the capital cities of other Asean nations.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said the signing of Protocols 5 and 6 by President Aquino last Feb. 3 was a major boost to the country’s growing tourism industry, opening up more opportunities for local airlines.
“It also allows airlines of other Asean countries to operate in the Philippines without restrictions as to air rights,” Jimenez said in a text message.
“This monumental signing is likewise a welcome development for tourism and travel in the Philippines, in time for the country’s hosting of Routes Asia 2016,” he added.
Routes Asia, slated from March 6-8, is an aviation event that will bring together a range of airlines, airports and tourism authorities, including some of the largest carriers from the whole Asian region.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said the MAAS was particularly significant for an archipelago like the Philippines, which relies almost entirely on air access to bring in visitors.
“The signing will pave the way for greater connectivity from Asean capitals into Manila. Greater connectivity will mean additional and more flight options for visitors to the country,” Bengzon said in an e-mail.
“More flights mean higher intra-Asean tourist traffic for the Philippines. This will help us achieve our visitor arrival and revenue targets,” he added.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that the MAAS is part of the Asean’s Roadmap for Integration of Air Transportation Services, which lays down the foundation for the envisioned Asean Single Aviation Market.
It also highlights the Philippines’ commitment to the realization of the Single Aviation Market, and in creating a unified Asean Economic Community with an efficient and fully-integrated transport network.
Moreover, it presents an opportunity for growth of the aviation sector, which will compete directly with other Asean carriers.
It will also encourage service upgrades among airlines, which have thus far proved to be competitive players in the Asean and other regional markets.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier lauded the development, saying that the agreement will enhance regional trade and investment opportunities for Philippine businesses that are looking to expand their markets.
He further said that it would also provide better access to Filipino individuals, such as professionals and students, who wish to explore job and educational opportunities in the Asean region.
“We expect it to benefit our local tourism and service industries, as the agreement allows foreign airlines to increase their flights to Manila and other cities as well,” Abaya said.
“Just as it will encourage more visitors to come to the country, Filipinos will also enjoy a wider array of flight options and ticket prices to the rest of the Asean,” he added.
Under the agreement, the DOTC and the Civil Aeronautics Board will assist Philippine air carriers in securing additional flight schedules with each of the nine other member states of the Asean.