Monday, November 22, 2010



Philippines Airline to commence  flights in 2011
Philippine Airlines (PAL) will commence flights between the destinations in the Philippines and India next year.
"In 2011, PAL will launch a new route to New Delhi, India, opening up the Philippines to the potentially enormous market of Indian tourists," PAL mentioned in a statement it released on Thursday following the announcement the Aquino government's thrust to liberalize aviation.
The Philippine government will be adopting an "open skies" policy before the year ends, according to President Aquino.
The new aviation policy is part of an effort to increase tourist arrivals, which currently pale in comparison to neighboring Thailand and Malaysia.
The row between the management and labor unions of PAL was partly a reason why the government considered "open skies," an industry lingo for removing restrictions, which are defined in government-to-government negotiations of air rights.

EU aviation experts tell govt to back CAAP

MANILA, Philippines - Aviation experts from the European Union (EU) who visited the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for 5 days in October, called on the government to support the agency to expedite the reforms being made to get back to Category 1 status.

“Support from the government appears necessary in order to speed up and complete, as soon as possible, the transfer of personnel from the former Air Transportation Office [ATO], provided the necessary qualifications criteria are met,” according to an executive summary of the visit released to the media.

The EU was made aware of the lengthy deliberations at the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the budget department, determining who among the CAAP’s 3,500 personnel will get specific plantilla positions.

To accelerate the process, the CAAP came out with a “qualification standard” (QS), containing several criteria that a prospective employee must be able to reach, if they were to get the positions they have opted for.

As of now, all of the former ATO employees are on “holdover” capacity.

When Republic Act 9497 creating the CAAP was signed in 2007, the ATO was transformed from a line agency, into a corporate entity, but it had difficulty filling up various positions.

CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi said when the previous administration created the QS, “they set the bar so high that most of the ATO employees would not be able to make it.” There were accusations that the QS was made only to accommodate the consultants from the military, retired general and colonels, who numbered about 170 during the term of former Director General Ruben Ciron.

This state of affairs almost triggered the CAAP Employees Union to go on strike.

Cusi has asked the CSC to set the bar to “manageable standards,” so as to make room for organic ATO employees. Those who lack some qualifications, like a college diploma, but have been with the ATO for at least 10 years were to undergo training.

Of the 89 significant safety concerns (SSC) the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) had found, the CAAP had complied with 87.

The remaining two involve the qualification and training of technical personnel, and the resolution of safety issues.

The EU concluded its report by stressing that Cusi’s actions are positive steps toward a “well-structured and managed civil aviation administration,” but appealed to the different branches of government involved directly or indirectly in the CAAP processes to work toward such goals.

The EU team lauded the significant reforms made in the CAAP by Cusi in response to the safety concerns raised by the influential bloc.

Airport sources said this is “a seeming vote of confidence” that is positive toward attaining the lifting of the ban on all carriers registered in the Philippines flying in and out of the EU.

When the ban was issued early this year, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific were banned from flying over European airspace. Although the two carriers have no scheduled flights in Europe, the ban also included freezing of additional flights to the US or adding more destinations to existing ones.

A scheduled visit by the Icao next month is aimed at lifting those restrictions, enabling PAL and Cebu Pacific to be taken off the blacklist.

The EU team visited the Philippines through the initiative of the CAAP. The seven-man team, headed by Philippe Gaillard, is composed of experts from the European Commission, member- states of the European Union and the European Aviation Safety.

The Philippine Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (Patca), the country’s elite aviation group, meanwhile, expressed support for Cusi, endorsing his programs to fast-track CAAP’s professionalization, getting rid of red tape and addressing the speedy filling up of plantilla positions by qualified personnel.

The 1,000-strong Patca commended Cusi’s move to rid the agency of “numerous unqualified consultants, who allegedly made the CAAP their milking cow.”

Rudy Boctot Jr., Patca chairman, said Cusi booted unqualified personnel “to where they really belong,” and initiated the investigation of those who enriched themselves at the expense of the agency.”

“Being originally engaged in shipping business did not stop Cusi from completely understanding the aviation world as he did well as general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority for six years. After all, shipping and aviation belong to the same transportation genre,” Boctot said.

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Aquino cites role of Air Force to effect reforms

MANILA, Philippines (PNA) - President Benigno S. Aquino III said the Philippine economy is ready to soar stable and high as he appreciates and recognizes the unified stand of Filipinos to fully effect change and achieve progress.

In his speech during the Philippine Air Force Aviation Cadet and Officer Candidate Alumni Association (PAF-ACes) awarding ceremonies at the Manila Hotel on Saturday night, the President said the strong showing of the peso, the restored investor confidence and the country's positive march towards economic progress were the results of a unified effort to bring about genuine change.

President Aquino said he saluted and joined the dedication, patriotism and sacrifices of the men and women of the PAF who continued to provide quality public service and did their best despite their outmoded air assets and equipment.

He also cited other graduates of the PAF flying school now in the private sector who also help the country's tourism efforts while showcasing the world-class caliber of Filipino pilots here and abroad.

The Chief Executive has directed a study to implement an open-sky policy to strongly promote tourism and increase the inflow and outflow of goods and services that will open up other economic opportunities for the people.

To complement this, the President said the public-private partnership program (PPP) included the renovation and modernization of the tourism airports in Bohol, Puerto Princesa City, Legazpi City and Laguindingan airport in Mindanao.

Aside from acquiring new air assets and surveillance equipment as part of the AFP modernization program, the PAF would also be provided soon with more modern engines and assets such as combat utility helicopter and basic trainer aircraft, President Aquino said.

The President said the AFP, the Government Service Insurance System, and the Department of Budget and Management were collectively finding ways to fast track the release of pensions and ensure the provision of other benefits to the retirees and enlisted personnel of the AFP.

”Fasten your seatbelt Pilipinas, tuloy-tuloy na ang arangkada natin sa tuwid na paliparan,” the President said.

The President also led in honoring 17 PAF aviation cadets that included Rona Guevarra, the first Filipina military pilot to join the civilian air industry.

The President also awarded the Golden Eagle Merit Medallion to PAF pilot Arnold Ando for his heroism in the rescue of seven wounded comrades during an encounter with Communist terrorists last May despite difficult weather and terrain conditions in Davao del Sur.

Assisting the President were PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, PAF-Aces president Maj. Gen. Artemio Orozco and PAF-Aces chairman Rolando Capacia.

In behalf of the PAF-Aces and as responsible citizens, Orozco and Capacia pledged their support and joined the President Aquino's vision for change, citing the President's effort in fighting corruption and poverty for the common good as an example of professionalism and patriotism demonstrated by the son of their honorary member, the late President Corazon Aquino.

Also present during the event was former PAF chief retired Brig. Gen. Antonio Sotelo, one of the heroes of the 1986 people power revolution, who restored the PAF's high professional standards by instituting the "no flight, no pay" policy for all rated officers that revived the merit system as the basis for promotion and laid the groundwork for the re-modernization of the PAF.

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PAL welcomes Aquino's aviation sector proposal

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines declared support of President Benigno Aquino III’s vision for "a strong Philippine-based aviation industry."

“We firmly believe this is indispensable to the development of Philippine tourism, trade and economic progress,” confirmed PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista.

PAL has always led the way in promoting RP tourism, by being the most aggressive airline in pioneering new routes, serving key tourism markets, and making necessary investments to put the Philippines on the tourism map as a destination for the world, he stressed.

In 2011, PAL will launch a new route to New Delhi, India, opening up the Philippines to the potentially enormous market of Indian tourists, in the same way that we've done in past years by pioneering new routes from Korea, Japan, China, Canada, and the United States.

PAL is the only airline flying between the Philippines and Canada, Tokyo (to/from Cebu), Western Japan, Las Vegas, Melbourne, and nonstop from the US West Coast - all rich sources of tourist traffic.

The flag carrier flies 2.9 million seats into RP every year, more than any other airline operating to and from the Philippines. It operates more seats and more flights from China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the United States to the Philippines than any other airline.

“As the national flag carrier, we at Philippine Airlines will continue to work in partnership with government to attract more foreign visitors from both existing and new markets overseas,” Bautista concluded.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL) posted modest gains of US$28.2-million for the second quarter of its fiscal year (July-September, 2010), amidst uncertainties from a looming fuel price hike and a new case of bird flu in Hong Kong.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), PAL reported revenues of US$399.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal year 2010-11, up by 33% from the same period total of US$299.7 million in 2009.

Despite positive numbers in the last two quarters, PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said he remains cautiously optimistic about the airline's growth prospects.

"The global airline industry remains vulnerable to volatile market conditions. Take fuel, for example. If the upward trend continues, it could wipe out all our recent gains," he noted.

While there was a huge reduction in maintenance expenses by 36% as a result of the company’s cost savings initiatives, fuel costs have gone up as a result of higher jet fuel prices from an average of US$79.06 per barrel for the quarter ended September, 2009 to an average of US$97.73 per barrel for the same quarter period in 2010.

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Report: Qantas oxygen tank blowout 'unique'

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An oxygen bottle explosion that tore a hole in a Qantas jumbo during a flight two years ago was a unique event that is extremely unlikely ever to happen again, investigators said Monday in their final report into the incident.
But the investigators concluded the exact cause of the incident would never be known because the key piece of evidence — the oxygen tank — fell into the South China Sea and was never recovered.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the July 2008 incident is unrelated to the blowout of a Rolls-Royce engine on a Qantas superjumbo earlier this month, but both events are part of a string of safety incidents in recent years that have tested the Australian airline's reputation as one of the world's safest.
The latest incident also involves parts not likely to be recovered, with some of the Airbus A380's engine parts still lost after the blowout over an Indonesian island. However, safety bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said he did not expect a similarly inconclusive result for the superjumbo investigation. A preliminary report on that investigation is due next week.
"We've got most of the necessary engine when it comes to the 380 and we've got significant components that have given us enough information already to establish reasonably clearly what's going on there and that will be reflected in our interim report," Dolan told reporters.
On the Boeing 747 oxygen bottle explosion, investigators had been unable to replicate that rupture in experiments with similar U.S.-manufactured steel tanks.
"Given the widespread and long-term use of this type of cylinder, it was clear that this occurrence was a unique event," Dolan said. "It is our view that the risk of a similar rupture and consequent aircraft damage remains extremely remote."
Investigators speculated that the tank's flaw lay in the manufacture of the steel with which it was made, and that that fault could have been impossible to detect, Dolan said.
Qantas welcomed the report's finding that the emergency was unique and without precedent.
"Importantly, the report makes no findings in relation to Qantas' engineering and maintenance operations," the airline said in a statement.
The Boeing 747 was flying across the South China Sea carrying 369 passengers and crew from London to Melbourne, Australia, when the oxygen bottle — one of a bank of seven stowed in a cargo hold to supply passengers' oxygen masks in an emergency — split in two.
The lower part blew a gaping hole 79 inches by 60 inches (2 meters by 1.5 meters) in its fuselage, while the top shot through the passenger cabin floor and sheared off an emergency door handle before it bounced off the ceiling and ricocheted back through the floor. The explosion caused rapid cabin decompression and damaged navigational instruments.
No one was injured and the jet landed safely in the Philippines, but questions were raised about the much-lauded safety record of Qantas, which has never lost a jet airliner in an accident.
It was among a series of high profile incidents that prompted Australian air safety regulators to order Qantas in September 2008 to improve its maintenance system.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said it found deficiencies and "signs of emerging problems" in the way Qantas manages and delivers maintenance to its planes.
Questions over Qantas safety flared anew when one of the airline's Airbus A380 superjumbos was damaged by an engine explosion over Indonesia on Nov. 4. Qantas' fleet of six A380s remain grounded while the airline swaps out some parts of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine they use and conducts safety tests. Other airlines using the A380 with Trent 900 engines are still flying the planes.
In its report Monday, the transport bureau said the cylinder design was "inherently robust" and there was no evidence suggesting Qantas' handling, operating or maintenance procedures had contributed to the failure. It said it has found no record of any other related instances of aviation oxygen cylinder rupture.
The jet involved has returned to service, but has continued to attract unwelcome attention for Qantas. After it was repaired in Manila, it collided with another 747 on a Melbourne airport tarmac in November 2008 while airline staff were towing it. There were no passengers aboard either jet and no one was injured.
The same jet was diverted during a flight from Singapore to Sydney in September 2009 when cockpit instruments registered a fuel leak. The jet landed safely with 290 passengers aboard in the western Australian city of Perth.

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