PH, NZ increase cross-border flights

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The governments of the Philippines and New Zealand have signed an agreement increasing the frequency of flights between the two countries to 21 flights from three flights a week.

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“The delegations [governments of the Philippines and New Zealand]also agreed to improve the 5th freedom exchange such that Philippine carriers can operate 5th freedom (flights) to Australia, while NZ carriers can operate 5th freedom to China,” Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message to reporters.

The 5th freedom, under commercial aviation rights, grants the right for an airline to fly between two foreign countries but the flights must originate or end at the carrier’s own country.

Arcilla said that although there are no immediate plans from any carrier to operate direct flights between the Philippines and New Zealand given the small size of the current market from New Zealand, the 5th freedom exchange can provide opportunities for airlines to support start-up operations between the two countries.

This early, Cebu Pacific has expressed an interest in such exchange arrangement.

“Yes, Cebu Pacific is interested in operating flights to and from New Zealand. We will make a request for entitlements with the Civil Aeronautics Board,” Lawyer Jorenz Tanada, vice president for Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific, said.

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 in Pasay City would be opened to more foreign traffic.

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