In the bid to increase travelers from around the world to the Philippines, the country signed the amended air services agreement with Singapore. With a 7.1% increase in weekly seats—from 18,888 frequencies per week for each country from the previous 17,627 seats—this vital move strengthens the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) strategy in positioning the Philippines as a multiple gateway destination in Asia.
The new air services agreement was signed on 13 February 2015 in Manila with several officials from the DOT, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) representing the Philippine Air Panel. Also included in the agreement is the increase in co-terminal and stop over rights for Singapore carriers, which will now include Iloilo and Bacolod, in addition to Manila, Cebu, Davao, Puerto Princesa, Kalibo, Cagayan de Oro, Laoag, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga. We can expect that in the coming months, a Singapore carrier can travel to Iloilo, then to Davao, and back to Singapore, without exercising cabotage rights.
With increased flights, tourists and investors can expect to travel to and from the two countries with ease. The Philippines gains greater entry to a major hub such as the Changi International Airport, while Singapore residents and citizens can look forward to wider access to top tourism destinations in the Philippines. This agreement is integral to the twin marketing destination strategy of the Philippines and Singapore. In 2014, a total of 179,099 Singaporeans visited the Philippines—a growth of 3.71% from the previous year—making it the number one source market of tourists from the Southeast Asia region. With the expanded air services agreement between the Philippines and Singapore, the country expects to enjoy an increase in tourism arrivals not only from Singapore, but also from other parts of the globe.
“The travel business in Southeast Asia today is characterized by a phenomenon called coopetition—a cooperative, collaborative decision by all players to compete with each other so that the world will choose the region before choosing the country. As ASEAN invites the world to feel the warmth, this phenomenon finds one of its most exciting permutations in the travel exchange between the Philippines and Singapore. Our countries are, in very real terms, each other’s value extension,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., said.
The agreement also saw the increase of 5th freedom rights of Philippine and Singapore carriers to 10 weekly services, allowing a Singapore carrier to operate a route from Singapore to Manila then to Osaka or Seoul; whereas, Philippine carriers can take a Manila to Singapore route onwards to any point in India.
The parties also agreed to grant Third Country Code sharing to both Philippine and Singapore carriers, which will allow the existing air rights of both parties to be reallocated to a third country airline. This gives the Philippines added exposure and access opportunity to points not currently served by both local and foreign carriers with existing rights. The operation by a third country carrier under this agreement will greatly help the DOT in promoting the Philippines to the point(s) of origin of such cooperative operational arrangement.
“The more connected we become, the more value we add to each other’s offering. As we work towards our goal of achieving our visitor arrival, revenue, and employment targets, we need to greatly enhance our international air seats and connectivity,” the Philippine tourism chief added.