Monday, April 5, 2010

European No Fly Zone for Philippines-based Airlines

I can't believe what I read in the newspapers that the European Union (EU) blocked all airlines based in the Philippines to fly in its member countries because of "serious safety deficiencies" as assessed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). I think that this is a more political issue rather than whether airplanes being operated by our local airlines are really on their brink of health. We might all agree that the problem is not with the airlines operating in this country but with the regulating body and the government.

Although there no Philippines-based airlines currently flying in any European destinations, given the current state of the industry, flag carrier Philippine Airlines is the only local airline which could anytime launch a flight in Europe if it so desire as its closest competitor does not have the type of aircraft that could make European flights viable and practical. In the defense of Philippine Airlines, its aircraft (comprising of more than 30 Airbus Industrie-made aircraft and a couple more Boeing types) are very well maintained by Lufthansa Technik Philippines. What do you know... Airbus and Lufthansa sounds European right? I am also very sure that Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and even Zest Air to that extent are all using newer aircraft compared with a number of airlines in the U.S. and Europe.

Philippine Airlines cited two events led to the inclusion of Philippine carriers in the European Union ban. The first one is the decision of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to downgrade the safety rating given to the Philippines and the other one is the safety alert issued by the ICAO against the local aviation safety regulators.

I hope this issue will be solved the soonest possible time because this is such a negative publicity for the local airline industry.

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