MANILA, October 25, 2005 (STAR) (AFP)  Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said Monday it would start regular flights to the Chinese capital Beijing on November 11, ending a 16-year hiatus.

PAL will fly three times a week between Manila and Beijing, a company statement said.

The carrier flew to Beijing from 1979 to 1989, when services were suspended for commercial reasons.

PAL said Beijing provides a bigger platform from which to access a growing tourism market.

Beijing will be the Philippine carrier's third destination in China. It already flies to Xiamen and Shanghai.

AEDC amenable to government management of NAIA-3, but… By Sandy Araneta The Philippine Star 10/25/2005

A company vying for control of Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s new Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) is amenable to have the government operate the new facility as long as it doesn’t bid out the terminal to other parties.

Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. (AEDC), owned by beer and tobacco magnate Lucio Tan, may agree to such an arrangement as long as it is temporary and the company has control of the facility.

"We have no objections to the takeover by the government, only the bidding out. They can open and operate the terminal, that is okay. But they could not bid it out. If they do, we will have to enforce what we are seeking and that is a temporary restraining order," AEDC lawyer Perfecto Yasay told reporters in an interview.

AEDC claims it has the legal right to operate the terminal after the Supreme Court in 2003 nullified the contract of Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) for NAIA-3.

Last week, AEDC asked the Supreme Court to stop the government from entering into any contract with Piatco, which built the terminal and is currently locked in a legal dispute with the government for control over the facility.

AEDC said it made an unsolicited proposal to build the terminal in 1994 following a government invitation and was awarded the contract in 1996.

However, AEDC lost the contract to Piatco when the consortium made a better offer. AEDC argued that it now has legal rights over the terminal since Piatco’s contract was nullified by the court due to anomalies.

"Pending due consideration of the above-captioned petitioner and there being no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, petitioner AEDC is entitled, as a matter of extreme urgency, to the issuance of a temporary restraining order restraining or enjoining respondents from negotiating, re-bidding, awarding or otherwise entering into any concession with Piatco and other third parties" for the operation of the terminal, the company stated in its petition.

AEDC said the government, represented by the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Manila International Airport Authority, "(does) not have authority to take over the NAIA-3 to the exclusion of the AEDC or to award the project to third parties."

Instead, the government has refused to recognize the AEDC as the "legitimate and unchallenged original proponent" of the project.

"Instead, the DOTC announced that it would take over the unfinished airport facility and bid out the operation thereof to another entity, in flagrant violation and disregard of the exclusive, clear and vested statutory right of petitioner AEDC under the build-operate-transfer law," the company stated.

AEDC had earlier offered $300 million for the right to operate the new terminal.

The new airport terminal was completed in 2002 but its opening was delayed by a squabble between Piatco and its German partner Fraport AG.

The terminal was delayed further in 2003 when President Arroyo revoked Piatco’s contract with the government on the grounds that certain terms were illegally renegotiated by her deposed predecessor Joseph Estrada in 1998.

Last December, the government seized the terminal from Piatco following the Supreme Court order that nullified Piatco’s contract. The consortium is currently contesting the seizure.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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