Aquino orders CAAP to get PH airlines flying to US, Europe again

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10:13 PM March 25th, 2013

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By: TJ Burgonio, March 25th, 2013 10:13 PM

President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Get the country’s airlines off the watch lists of the United States and the European Union, and watch the Philippines soar, President Aquino told aviation officials, on Monday, during the fifth anniversary of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

“In the coming days, weeks and months, all of us will be working toward getting our country off the watch lists of the United States and the European Union,” the President said, adding that when this was  accomplished, hordes of tourists would be flying to the country’s famed resorts, “(ushering in) a golden age not just for Philippine aviation, not just for Philippine tourism, but for the entire country.”

Aquino said the aviation industry suffered “giant steps backward” beginning in 2007 when the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2, preventing the country’s airlines from expanding their flights to and from the United States.

The President said that in 2009, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) found “significant safety concerns” in the country’s aviation standards. This was followed in March 2010 by the banning of all Philippine aircraft by the European Union, which cited “serious and persistent noncompliance” by local aviation with aircraft checks.

“Today, I give you my marching orders. Let’s get this done. We have the momentum; we have the right people and have put the right systems in place. It is time for us to usher in a golden age not just for Philippine aviation, not just for Philippine tourism, but for the entire country,” Aquino said.

He added:  “Soon, all of our countrymen will finally be able to feel the full effect of having a country and a people predisposed to friendliness and fun: In the form of more tourists, more jobs and improved business for our souvenir vendors, tour guides, taxi drivers, hotel staff and those in so many other allied, and even divergent, sectors.”

The President praised the CAAP for installing a Civil Aviation Safety Oversight Reporting and Tracking System as its main database management system, and for implementing the Minimum Required Annual Inspection for all air operators.

The CAAP also revalidated the Air Operators Certificate of five international operators and other air taxi operators and domestic air operators, and established the Certificate Management Department to help local carriers, such as Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, meet international aviation standards, Aquino said.

In view of these, the ICAO lifted the Significant Safety Concerns previously issued to the Philippines, the President added.

“For those of you who have been working for CAAP since its inception and have endured its lowest points, doesn’t this truly make you feel much better?” Aquino asked.

He then reminded the CAAP staff and officials led by William Hotchkiss III how crucial their job has been in ensuring the safety of airline crew and passengers.

“As your President, I encourage you to remember the significance of your responsibilities: That  you are allowing our tourists,  our people and, ultimately, our country to soar to even greater heights. You are making certain that the theme of your anniversary today becomes an enduring truth: that indeed our future is in the skies,” Aquino said.

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