Sep 062013

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Italy have agreed to increase weekly flights between the two countries, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said.

“We got 14 flights per week between the Philippines and Italy,” CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in a text message to reporters.

The agreement was reached during the air talks held in Italy on Wednesday and Thursday.

Under the previous agreement entered into in 1969, only one flight is allowed per week between the two countries.

Arcilla noted that there are 170,000 Filipinos in Italy.

“Rome and Milan can also be a jump off point for traffic between Southern Europe and the Philippines,” he added.

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The development comes as the European Union (EU) lifted in July a ban it imposed three years ago which prevented airlines from the Philippines, led by flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), from operating in Europe.

EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux said the ban was lifted as the European Commission and the Air Safety Committee were encouraged by the actions being undertaken by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and PAL to address outstanding aviation safety issues.

PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang announced after the lifting of the EU ban that the airline intends to fly to Rome as well as other popular European destinations such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid.

The air talks are being held in line with the open skies policy.

Executive Order 29 which was signed by President Aquino in March 2011 authorized government negotiators to grant access to foreign airlines to the country’s airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The policy is intended to support tourism growth and encourage foreign airlines to operate at secondary gateways.

The Philippines is scheduled to hold air talks with Japan from September 11 to 13.

The country has also set air talks with France in January of next year.

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