The Philippines has earned a Category 1 upgrade from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after complying with international safety
standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The Category 1 status was confirmed by Thursday by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg when he delivered a letter from FAA’s Margaret Gilligan to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General William K. Hotchkiss.
In a statement, the CAAP said the upgrade “will allow Philippine carriers to mount and add new routes to the United States.”
Gilligan’s letter cited that the FAA conferred the upgrade after the Philippines passed an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) earlier this year.
Last January, the FAA’s Flight Safety Service made an audit to determine CAAP’s compliance with ICAO standards.
Goldberg said the FAA’s decision “is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of the CAAP.”
He added that collaboration between the FAA and CAAP will help ensure the continued safety air travel between the United States and the Philippines.
The FAA downgraded the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2 in
air safety and security in 2008 on ICAO’s recommendation.
The FAA found the Philippine aviation facilities lacked basic infrastructure, logistics and systems.
The downgrade prevented the country’s airlines from opening new routes to the United States. The US government only allowed Philippine carriers to maintain existing service to the US.
The FAA reminded CAAP that “In order to maintain a Category 1 rating,
countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere
to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nation’s technical agency
for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended
practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.”
Foreign and local airlines operating in the country welcomed the announcement of the upgrade.
The Airline Operators Council said a return to Category 1 “is good for
the airline and for the country.
The upgrade also benefits Philippine Airlines, which was planning it expand its flights in the US.
Cebu Pacific Air also welcomed the “great news” since it can now fly to the United States and Europe.
BENJIE L. VERGARA