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Apr

China Eastern Airlines bags temporary permit

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By Cliff Harvey C. Venzon | BusinessWorld Online

SHANGHAI-BASED China Eastern Airlines Corp. has bagged a temporary permit to operate in the Philippines, an official of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said in a recent phone interview.

“We gave them the TOP (Temporary Operating Permit) last Thursday. It is good for one year,” CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said on Monday when asked about the status of the application the carrier filed in February.

“It (TOP) is as good as the FACP (Foreign Air Carriers Permit), it’s just that they (China Eastern) need to complete some documentation.”

An FACP is a permit given to foreign airlines to enable them to operate in the country. Like the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which is issued to local airlines, FACP is renewable every five years.

Mr. Arcilla, however, noted that China Eastern still needs to get a “technical permit” from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and an “airport slot” so that it could start operations.

Officials of China Eastern, which eyes operations in Manila, were not immediately available for comment.

Jose Angel A. Honrado, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he has not seen the carrier’s application for an slot at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“I have not seen their application. But the slot for peak hours is already full,” he said, referring to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. “They have to get flight schedule beyond those hours.”

A check with the CAAP’s Flight Operation Division showed that China Eastern has not applied for any permit.

If the carrier gets the CAAP permit and airport slot, China Eastern will join other China-based carriers already operating in the Philippines namely: Air China Ltd. and China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd.

China Eastern started operations in 1957, according to the company’s Web site.

In 1997, it became the first Chinese airline listed simultaneously in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets, it added.

As one of the three major airlines in mainland China, it operates in 50 overseas and 11 domestic hubs, the Web site showed.

The company also “holds controlling shares of over 24 subsidiaries including Shanghai Airlines, China Eastern Yunnan Airlines, China Cargo Airlines Co. Ltd and China United Airlines,” it said.

The company, which has “a fleet of more than 400 long-haul and short-haul aircraft with an average age of less than seven years,” serves “nearly 70 million travelers annually.”

Including the Chinese carriers, 39 foreign airlines were operating in the Philippine as of end-2012, CAB records showed. International passenger volume went up by 6.83% to 16.74 million last year from 15.67 million the year before, according to CAB records.