The Philippines amended an air service agreement with South Korea, the top source of international visitors, raising the flight entitlements between the two countries by 13,000 seats a week.
Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the two countries signed a new memorandum of understanding on air services that set air traffic entitlements between Manila and all international airports in Korea at 20,000 seats per week for each country from the current 13,500.
“It means that all airlines of the Philippines authorized to operate between Manila and all international airports in Korea can utilize a combined total of 20,000 seats per week,” Arcilla said.
He said the same number of 20,000 seats per week would also be available for all the Korean carriers authorized to operate between Manila and all international airports in Korea.
“The new MOU further provided for unlimited traffic rights for the authorized airlines of both countries between all international airports in the Philippines outside Manila and all international airports in Korea,” Arcilla said.
He said the expanded air traffic rights in Manila aimed to address the increased demand for air services between Manila and Korea, while the unlimited air traffic rights outside Manila was in line with the Philippine government policy to develop airports outside Manila and spur the economic development of new tourism, trade and economic centers outside Manila.
“The new agreement is expected to enhance air connectivity to support the vastly growing tourism, trade and investments between the two countries,” Arcilla said.
“Tourism arrivals from Korea have consistently been the biggest compared to arrivals from all other tourism source markets, with Korean tourists to the Philippines numbering 1,475,000 in 2016,” he said.
Eight Korean air carriers and five Philippine air carriers are currently operating between the Philippines and Korea.
Available data from the Tourism Department showed that Korea was the country’s top source of arrivals and accumulated 686,630 arrivals in the first five months of 2017 alone, with a market share of 23.82 percent..
This market has been producing more than 100,000 visitors in a single month since January, making it the top major source of visitors to the country.
Other big tourism markets of the Philippines were the United States, China, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia.
The government expects international visitor arrivals to reach a record 6.5 million this year.
Arcilla said the government was also planning to hold air talks with Papua New Guinea, Japan, Canada and India next year.