PH carriers seek flight entitlements to Russia

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THE country’s four local carriers are seeking flight entitlements to Russia following the signing of a new air services agreement between the Philippines and Russia in July.

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Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirPhil and ZestAir have filed with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) their respective applications for allocation of entitlements to Russia.

In a filing, Cebu Pacific said: “Pursuant to the provision of R.A., 776, as amended, notice is hereby given that Cebu Air Inc. has file with the Civil Aeronautics Board an application for designation as official Philippine carrier and allocation entitlements to Russia, in accordance to the July 23, 2015, RP-Russia Confidential Memorandum of Understanding (CMOU).”

Cebu Pacific applied for Manila to Moscow flights, vice-versa, three times a week, and Manila to Vladivostok, vice-versa also three times a week.

In a separate filing, Zest Airways Inc. (AirAsia Zest) also applied for Kalibo to Vladivostok, vice-versa four times a week.

“Siguro may market but I wouldn’t say ganun kalaki, but syempre there’s an opportunity [Maybe there is a market, but I wouldn’t say it is that significant, but of course there’s an opportunity],” Maria Elben Moro, CAB Legal Division chief and hearing officer, told reporters.

She said AirPhil and PAL have also applied but they still to schedule their applications for a hearing.

In a petition for frequency entitlements between Manila and Moscow, PAL said in a letter to the CAB, “In light of the recently concluded PH-Russia Air Talks and as a designated carrier between the Philippines and Russia, Philippine Airlines respectfully requests for the allocation of new frequency entitlements on Route 1 of the Air Services Agreement.”

PAL is applying for five times a week frequencies on the city pair between Manila and Moscow; three times a week frequencies on the city pair between Manila and Khabarovsk; and four times a week frequencies on the city pair between Cebu and Khabarovsk.

PAL said that as a designated carrier on the route, it has been promoting Russian tourist travel to the Philippines by operating Manila-Vladivostok, vice-versa and Kalibo-Vladivostok, vice-versa flights over the last two years. PAL said that it hopes to futher develop the Philippines-Russia tourist and travel market.

In a separate letter, PAL Express also requested for designation as official Philippine carrier to Russia.

PAL Express said, “On behalf of Air Philippines Corp. we write to request this Honorable Board for its designation as official Philippine Carrier to Russia under the Air Service Agreement between the Philippines and Russia on December 2009 as amended by the Confidential Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippines and Russia signed on July 23, 2015.”

Six years since the last air talks between Russia and the Philippines, the two governments met again on July 22 to July 23 and updated their air service agreement.

Earlier, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message, “We did air talks with them [government of Russia]six years ago. We hope to have capacity also. While Russia is encountering difficulties, it’s still a very strong market and people are traveling. It’s a very lucrative market.”

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