Papua New Guinea thumbs down Philippine request for additional flights means BUSINESS

MANILA - Citing unused capacity among Philippine carriers, Papua New Guinea has junked Manila's request for additional seat entitlements, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said on Friday.

In a telephone interview, Carmelo Arcilla, CAB executive director, told that Papua New Guinea dropped the Philippines' request for 720 additional seat entitlements per week mainly because local airlines have yet to maximize the existing 600 seats. The air talks were held in Manila on April 23-24.

Last year, CAB allocated 300 seat entitlements to Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the remaining 300 seats to Cebu Pacific.

Arcilla said PAL wants additional seats so it can fly four times weekly, while Cebu Pacific is aiming for three times a week flights.

Niu Guniea, the flag carrier of Papua New Guinea, is the only carrier servicing Manila, flying three times a week.

Arcilla said the government of Papua New Guinea however committed to give additional seat entitlements once PAL and Cebu Pacific use up the existing allotted seats.

PAL and Cebu Pacific are awaiting approval of their permits from the government of Papua New Guinea.

Arcilla said 25,000 Filipinos are domiciled in Papua New Guinea, which has a population of seven million.

Last week, the Philippine and Australian governments agreed to adding seven frequencies or seven flights per week between points in the Philippines and Avalon Airport in Melborne.

Last year, the Philippine air panel held talks with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Singapore and South Korea.

The Aquino administration is pursuing air talks as part of its open skies policy. The government aims to generate six million tourists, three million jobs and $4.6 billion in tourism revenues by 2016, allowing the sector to contribute 6.35 percent to gross domestic product.