Tuesday, 14 February 2012 19:37 Lenie Lectura / Reporter
A BUDGET airline based in South Korea will cease mounting flights to Kalibo starting tomorrow.
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said Jin Air’s permit issued by the board is good only up to February 15. The permit allows Jin Air to service the Incheon-Kalibo route. Jin Air’s permit until February 15 is already an extension of its original permit issued by the CAB.
“We have extended their permit twice already. They did not apply for an extension anymore so their Kalibo-Incheon operation is good only up to February 15. These are charter flights,” said Arcilla in a text message.
The decision of Jin Air not to renew its permit has nothing to do with South Korean aviation officials’ earlier decision to thumb down Airphil Express’ request to service the same route. “That is the decision of Jin Air. It doesn’t have to affect our appeal about Airphil Express,” added the CAB official.
Philippine aviation officials are still trying to set a schedule with their counterparts in South Korea to discuss Airphil Express’ appeal to be allowed to resume flights to the gateway of the Seoul capital.
Airphil Express stopped servicing Kalibo-Incheon route six years ago but formalized last year its intention to resume servicing the route. South Korea, however, denied its application, citing the ban imposed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organizations (ICAO) on the Philippines.
The FAA had placed the country in “Category 2 safety status” in January 2008. This prohibits local carriers from expanding operations in the US. ICAO, meanwhile, cited the Philippines as one of the countries with “serious safety concerns.”
Airphil Express Senior Vice President for marketing and sales Alfredo Herrera, in a phone interview, said the budget airline of the Lucio Tan group can’t do anything but wait. “We appealed to our government to negotiate with South Korea on our behalf. We hope that there would be a meeting soon so that our appeal can be discussed and possibly allow us to fly there again,” he said.
Arcilla, for the Philippine government’s part, said his agency is also waiting for a schedule to firm up.
CAB’s decision to allow Jin Air into the country is based on the premise of equal opportunity in accordance with Executive Order (EO) 29, the policy implementing “open skies.”
Under the rules of the said EO, third, fourth and fifth freedom rights are allowed. This means foreign airlines can mount flights to and from any airports in the country, except the already congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport, without restrictions on frequency, capacity and type of aircraft.
The rules are meant to attract foreign airlines to operate to the country’s secondary gateways, which are largely underserved or totally unserved by both international and local airlines.
“AirphilExpress complained that there is no reciprocity and Filipino carriers are not given equal opportunity. We want to seek a dialogue with the South Korean government as soon as possible,” added Arcilla.