RP-US TALKS: UNEQUAL RIGHTS

Manila, July 16, 2003 By ELLEN TORDESILLAS (MALAYA) AS the global airline industry continues to reel from the damage caused by SARS, terrorism and economic slump, competition has become more intense.

Against this backdrop, the second round of Philippine-US aviation talks starts today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel prior to the implementation of the "open skies" policy on Oct. 1.

Philippine Airlines said there are onerous provisions in the RP-US air transport agreement.

PAL's primer on the RP-US air talks states that under the ATA US airlines have free access from an unlimited number of points in the Philippines. There are no routing restrictions, no mandatory stopovers or gateway service restrictions.

The ATA, however. gives only Philippine carriers limited access to US points and subject to restriction.

The ATA also bars Philippine carriers from carrying local domestic (cabotage) traffic on flights within the US, whereas US carriers have extensive rights on RP-Asia routes.

PAL says it's bad enough that many of the provisions in the ATA are disadvantageous to the national airline, the US wants more such as the right to operate independent flights between the Philippines and third countries, known in aviation industry as 7th freedom.

PAL says the ATA allows unlimited all-cargo flights between RP and US, with US carriers enjoying rights to establish cargo hubs in the Philippines.

It does not grant 7th freedom privileges which the Americans have been asking.

Yet, PAL said "US cargo airlines are currently, continuously and significantly operating 7th freedom services top and from the Philippines.

They cite the following violations:

* United Parcel Service and Federal Express are operating freestanding Asian hub networks out of the Philippines at Clark and Subic.

* The UPS Clark-Asia flights are completely independent as they are not hooked up to any RP-US trunk flights.

* Many of the FedEx Subic-Asia flights are also completely independent from the comparatively fewer RP-US trunk flights.

***

At the July 4 reception at the US. Embassy everybody was congratulating and bidding goodbye to Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, professor of De La Salle University-Manila and founding president of the Yuchengco Center who has been appointed one of the deputy secretaries general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He will be based in Jakarta.

The other Asean deputy secretary general is Pengiran bin Pengiran Ahmad from Brunei Darussalam.

It is an honor for the Philippines to have another Filipino in a high-ranking position in Asean following the end of Rodolfo Severino's term as secretary general. It's worth mentioning that the first Asean secretary general was Ambassador Narciso Reyes.

DLSU announced that Dr. Trinidad Osteria has been named president of the Yuchengco Center. She was formerly director of the Social Development Center and was regional adviser at the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.

Email address: ellen@i-manila.com.ph


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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