The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) has endorsed the urgent recommendations adopted recently by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) calling for Asia-Pacific governments to invest in aviation infrastructure and air traffic management systems to meet the projected growth in demand for air transport and avoid unnecessary congestion, delays, and inconvenience to the traveling public.
In its first ever Philippine Aviation Day, ACAP charter chairman and Philippine Airlines (PAL) president Jaime Bautista has urged governments to refrain from increasing the taxation burden on airlines and avoid unjustified or discriminatory taxes affecting aviation.
Bautista stressed the need for governments to strengthen multilateral cooperation on aviation security and coordinate with all stakeholders before implementing new border control measures and support the CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) measures to control aviation emissions.
“Local air travel continues to connect people around the world while providing ease of travel and cost competitiveness,” said Bautista.
ACAP is composed of PAL, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, CEBGo, Philippines AirAsia. “We compete aggressively in a healthy contest where there can be only one winner – the flying public. The result is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic domestic aviation networks in the world,” said Bautista.
At the summit’s conclusion, ACAP member airlines have pledged to work in partnership with Philippine government agencies and stakeholders for the advancement of Philippine civil aviation.
ACAP carriers recognize that the local air travel industry faces serious challenges. “We no longer enjoy the benefits of low fuel prices. Our ability to grow and generate revenues and jobs for the country continues to be susceptible to the fallout from external events, political turbulence, global terrorism and burdensome regulations,” said Bautista.
“We wrestle with infrastructure limitations, starting with serious limitations of our primary airport in Manila, and constraints in airports north and south of the capital.”
ACAP is seeking the support of the Philippine government to provide a regulatory environment that gives airlines the flexibility and latitude needed to do business and respond to market conditions.
Despite all the challenges, “we see an expanding market, and a healthy demand for tourist travel due to intensive promotions and the government’s push for better tourism infrastructure and a more enriching tourism experience.”
“We expect a more sophisticated and comprehensively improved air transport infrastructure under the government’s build-build-build program. A number of airport terminals have been upgraded, with more terminals and even greenfield airports in the pipeline,” said Bautista.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the Philippine government to maximize the economic and social benefits that aviation can bring to the country by addressing airport infrastructure deficiencies in Manila, scrap proposals for increased taxation on aviation and adopt smarter regulation principles.
“Aviation is vital to the Philippines which supports 1.2 million jobs and $9.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP). The domestic network binds the country across 7,000 islands. International links keep families and businesses connected and bring in tourists. But the social and economic benefits of air transport are at risk if the key issues of airport infrastructure, excessive regulation and taxation are not addressed,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
IATA recommends either to urgently enhance the runway and terminal capacities of NAIA or build a new airport near Manila.
“Excessively onerous regulation can be a huge burden on the ability of aviation to deliver its social and economic benefits.”
De Juniac cited new consumer protection legislation being studied in the Philippines that would cap airfares, prohibit overbooking and impose onerous consumer protections extra-territorially.
“Introducing government-imposed fare caps would likely have the unintended consequence of reducing deeply discounted fares. If airlines cannot charge a premium for ultimate flexibility, then covering costs will likely lead to a rise in average fares,” said de Juniac.
He also called on the Philippine government to avoid implementing a tourism tax and to abandon a proposed Green Fee.
“The proposed Green Fee is misguided and should be abandoned. Governments through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have agreed a global approach to climate change based on improvements in technology, infrastructure, and operations. “
“There is an agreed Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The cause of sustainability is best served by the Philippines supporting this global approach and volunteering to participate in CORSIA,” said de Juniac.