EU lifts air ban on Philippine AirlinesBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) has partially lifted the air ban on Philippine Airlines (PAL) paving the way for flights to European countries as early as September or October.
EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux made the formal announcement of the lifting of the air ban along with PAL President and CEO Ramon Ang and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director William Hotchkiss III.
“Today the EU has decided to lift the air ban for Philippine Airlines. The decision will be effective starting Friday, July 12, 2013,” Ledoux said.
“This decision is very encouraging and is a first success for both CAAP and Philippine Airlines,” he said.
Ang said that they are planning to establish direct routes to Paris, London, Rome, and Amsterdam, among others. He cited their recent purchase of new long range aircrafts that can serve direct flights to Europe.
“I think we are entitled to seven flights a week to London, six to seven times a week to Paris and we will have to review our agreement with other countries,” he said.
The first flights to Europe by PAL could begin in September or October, Ang added.
Philippine airlines were banned from flying to countries in the EU after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) found “significant safety concerns” in the aviation standards of the Philippines.
Philippine carriers have been blacklisted from the EU since 2010.
“Corrective actions were progressively undertaken by CAAP, particularly after the appointment of [Hotchkiss] in June 2012. An assessment by ICAO in October 2012 showed improvements,” Ledoux said.
“In February 2013, a further ICAO audit found that the Philippine aviation authority undertook sufficient corrective actions to meet international norms. This led the UN organization to remove all remaining significant safety concerns in April 2013,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the United States (US) lowered its rating of the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2 last 2008 preventing the country from expanding its routes to the US.
Present during the announcement are French Ambassador Gilles Garachon, Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq, Romanian Ambassador Valeriu Gheorghe, Czech Republic Ambassador Josef Rychtar, and other Ambassadors from EU member countries.