The two leading Philippine carriers expect to see the strengthening of the local aviation industry compliant with stricter air safety standards as required by its upgraded Category 1 status just granted by United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific agree that consistent with the country’s robustly growing economy, the aviation industry needs efficient carriers and a strong regulatory environment for progress to be sustained.
“We look forward to an even brighter and even stronger Philippine aviation industry,” Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer, told reporters on Friday.
After six years, the Philippines exited the American air safety blacklist and obtained the FAA’s Category 1 status, as announced Thursday, paving the way for Philippine air carriers to open new direct flights to the US.
The upgrade is expected to have positive economic implications as well, as direct flights to and from the US could boost the country’s tourism, help airline companies expand their operations, and improve trade and business relations between the two countries.
“I think the health of the regulator and the health of the leading carriers such as Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are all well and good for the Philippines because the Philippines is a growing economy,” Gokongwei said.
PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang said: “I think for PAL definitely, we will be able to use our new aircraft from now on, going to Los Angeles, San Francisco or the West Coast.”
“And this will mean $100 million a year savings on fuel and $60 million a year further savings on maintenance. With that, our long-range aircraft will have a reach of up to the East Coast, and of course, our new Airbus 330 will be flying to Honolulu and Guam,” he added.
In 2008, the FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 status for failing to comply with international aviation safety standards. Category 2 prevents airlines from the Philippines from adding new routes to the US.