Open Skies Policy: A Boon to Laoag

LAOAG CITY, July 23 — Laoag is set to benefit from the Aquino administration’s open skies policy.

Lawyer Jose Claro Tesoro, former board member of the Civil Aeronautics Board said the open skies policy enables the Philippine government to sign new air deals with foreign air carriers which will fly using secondary airports in seven secondary gateways including the Laoag International Airport.

He said Laoag stands to benefit from new air deals with the entry of more tourists that will create more economic activities.

The Aquino administration’s open skies policy will help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) by making use of secondary airports outside of Manila and, in the process, spur tourism and economic activities in the provinces.

Tesoro said the NAIA runway is congested having a 97 percent utilization of its runways for departures and arrivals of domestic and international flights.

“Congestion of NAIA runways is a problem. Aircrafts are often unable to land immediately and would have to circle around the airport until the runways are clear,” he said.

He said the air services agreement covers low cost foreign carriers or budget airlines which will be granted access to any airport within the country other than NAIA.

The open skies rule is pursuant to Executive Order 29, promoting the Philippine government’s civil aviation liberation policy which Aquino signed in March.

“These foreign carriers will not be allowed to fly in through NAIA. They are only allowed to fly using the secondary airports,” he said.

Tesoro said NAIA could no longer afford additional flights and is not capable for expansion.

Tesoro was in this city on Friday and met various groups involved in the tourism and airline industries.

“But if we are to accommodate more air traffic, we need to improve our airports. The problem is not in the air, it’s on the ground,” he said. (JCR/CCA-PIA)