LOCAL trade players are calling the EU’s decision last Friday allowing all Philippine carriers to fly European skies after a five-year ban a vote of confidence, and expect the move to encourage more connectivity between the two destinations.
The ban has long been a bugbear for travel consultants, whose European customers could not obtain insurance for travel on blacklisted carriers, and is also thought to have affected inbound tourism.
But with Philippines carriers cleared for travel, it shows that the country is “committed to improving the travel and tourism industry in the country by recognising the importance of safety to travellers”, said AA Yaptinchay, general manager, Kirschner Travel Manila.
“Travel agencies can now assure EU passengers of insurance coverage with this lifting of the ban. This means our European visitors will no longer have second thoughts of taking a Philippine carrier and (there will be) definitely less work for consultants in terms of added information and documents provided to clients,” Yaptinchay added.
Yet, it is up to the airlines to “make the most” out of the ban lift, he said.
While Philippine Airlines (PAL) was exempted from the EU ban since 2013 under a partial lift of the EU ban, and Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) since last year, the seven LCCs now allowed to fly to Europe are still incapable of doing so as they lack the aircraft for longhaul routes.
Even flag carrier PAL flies only to London and has deferred its expansion in Europe, while CEB still has no services to Europe as it focuses more on longhaul services to the US and Middle East.
Nevertheless, Michelle Victoria, president, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), said the lifting of the ban will allow PTAA to showcase the Philippines as a worthy destination for leisure and business travellers.
“Airfares will be more competitive to the benefit of those travelling to Europe. Commerce will also benefit once Philippine carriers start flying to Europe as we will be able to transport Philippine-made goods and products directly to the European market,” she said.