• PH, Qatar agree to increase flights

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    THE Philippines and Qatar have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Air Services increasing the maximum number of flights for each country, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said.

    “The Philippines and Qatar signed on May 28 in Doha a new MOU on Air Services increasing the maximum number of flights for each country from the current 8 flights per week to 14, or an increase of 6,” Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message.

    “The parties also agreed on unlimited flights between Doha and other airports in the Philippines except Manila. Previously, the entitlements outside Manila were 14 per week to Clark and 14 per week to Cebu,” he added.

    The two countries last held air talks in 2009.

    Qatar Airways currently operates eight times per week to Manila and seven times a week to Clark. Cebu Pacific will start operations between Manila and Doha on June 5, 2015.

    There are about 250,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar.

    Qatar and the Philippines held a two-day meeting to discuss the request of Qatar Airways for 13 additional weekly flights to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, to be served direct from Doha’s Hamad International Airport.

    The Philippine air negotiating panel led by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) met with the Government of Qatar for air services talks on May 27 and 28 in Doha.

    Qatar Airways flies seven times a week from Doha to Clark International Airport (CIA), a service inaugurated in 2013 after the Qatari airline reduced its Doha-NAIA flights from 14 to eight times per week in November 2013 to comply with limits set by the Philippines-Qatar air pact currently in effect.

    It is not known if the Doha-Clark flights will continue should Qatar gain their desired additional frequencies to NAIA.

    However, the standing policy of the Aquino government as enunciated in Executive Order No. 29 is to encourage more liberal access to secondary airports in the country such as Clark, Iloilo and Cebu, while retaining restrictions on flights to NAIA which has reached saturation point.

    The Philippine air panel has not publicly confirmed whether it would stick to its previously stated position against granting additional NAIA flights to Qatar due to serious congestion problems at the NAIA and to preserve flights to Clark in line with presidential directives and E.O. No. 29.

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