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US FAA upgrades Philippine aviation security rating

Publication Date : 10-04-2014


The Philippines finally bagged the long-awaited United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgrade to Category 1.

This developed hours before the expected announcement tonight by the European Union that Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific would be allowed to fly to Europe.

The US announcement, while expected by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), came as a surprise today as it was widely anticipated to be made by US President Barack Obama during his state visit to the Philippines later this month.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg made the announcement on Twitter saying, "Good news! Philippines' compliance with international aviation safety oversight standards earns Category 1 Safety Rating."

The upgrade paves the way for the expansion of Philippine carriers’ flights to the US.  Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, which was allowed to fly to Europe last year, already flies to the US although its operations are limited to the West Coast.

Cebu Pacific earlier said it was also keen on flights to the US destinations like Hawaii.
The US FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 in early 2008, signaling that the country “lacked laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards.”

In a statement today, the FAA said the restoration of the Philippines’s category 1 status was based on a March review of CAAP, whose current leadership also helped the country exit a European blacklist in July last year following its compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, standards.

“A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. With the International Aviation Safety Assessment Category 1 rating,

the Republic of the Philippines’ air carriers can add flights and service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers,” FAA said.

The Philippine Department of Transportation, meanwhile, noted that the upgrade means greater tourism and trade relations between the Philippines and the US.

“The upgrade cements a landmark era in the Philippine aviation sector.  From one major achievement to another in a span of less than two years, the country has made great strides in enhancing its aviation industry to one that is at par with the best in the world,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement today.

Philippine Airlines would immediately benefit from the FAA upgrade since it already flies to the US.  Apart from adding new routes, the upgrade would allow the airline to swap ageing aircraft currently being used to newer fuel efficient planes, like its Boeing 777s, allowing the carrier to save on operating costs.


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