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PH out of US blacklist

‘Category 1’ Status Allows Philippine Carriers To Expand Flights

The Philippines’ aviation security rating has been upgraded to Category 1 status by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), opening the door for Filipino airlines to expand their services to the United States.

The decision to remove the Philippines from the Category 2 air safety blacklist was announced in a letter by FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Margaret Gilligan to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General William Hotchkiss. The letter was personally delivered by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg yesterday.

The FAA put the Philippines on its Category 2 blacklist in 2008, saying it had failed to comply with International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA).

European Aviation Safety Agency, Manila Bulletin

FLYING HIGH – Some see a boost in the country’s economy and tourism coffers after the US Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the aviation security rating of this Southeast Asian nation to ‘Category 1’ status after the CAA of the Philippines met all requirements set by the US FAA as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Aviation Safety Agency. (Anjo Perez)

Ban Lifted

This resulted in Philippine carriers being banned from expanding services to the United States. The EU in 2010 banned all Philippine carriers from flying to Europe for similar reasons. But July, 2013, European Union lifted its own ban after the Philippines upgraded its aviation safety standards.

In the FAA letter, Gilligan noted that the Philippines was able to comply with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), based on the results of a January FAA review of CAAP.

A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards, while a Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.

With the Category 1 status, Philippine air carriers can now also carry the code of US air carriers.

Better Opportunities

Apart from more flights, the FAA upgrade will translate to tourism and economic opportunities for the country, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said. He also lauded the efforts of CAAP officials for ensuring the lifting of ICAO’s significant safety concerns in March 7, 2013, and the lifting of the European ban on Philippine carriers in July 10, 2013.

“We congratulate CAAP for a job well done in censuring the lifting of the ICAO’s significant safety concerns, the lifting of the European ban on local airlines, and now, the FAA upgrade to Category 1. Truly, your accomplishments prove that good governance and competent leadership will be the legacy of President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid,” Abaya said.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte commended Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and CAAP “for the commitment and hard work they have demonstrated in rectifying the lapses and inaction of the past.”

To maintain a Category 1 rating, countries with air carriers that fly to the US must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

Ambassador Goldberg noted that the FAA’s decision “is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of the CAAP,” adding that collaboration between the FAA and CAAP will help ensure the continued safety of air travel between the US and the Philippines.

At present, only the Philippine Airlines (PAL) operates flights to the US. With the upgrade, other Philippine carriers can now fly to the US, while PAL can now add new routes to and from the US, increase flight frequencies and use more fuel-efficient aircraft. (With reports from AFP, Emmie V. Abadilla, and Genalyn D. Kabiling)