MANILA and Doha signed last Sunday a new air services agreement (ASA), increasing the total number of flights per week between the two cities by almost a third, a senior official said on Thursday.
Civil Aeronautics Board Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said the Philippine air panel, led by Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, signed a new memorandum of understanding amending the existing agreement between the Philippines and Qatar.
“The new memorandum increased the maximum number of flights between Manila and Doha, from the current total of 14 flights per week to a total of 18 flights per week for the airlines of each country,” he said in a text message.
Qatar Airways currently operates 14 flights per week between Doha and Manila, plus seven flights per week to Clark, while Philippine Airlines currently operates four flights between Manila and Doha.
The new memo will increase the flights of Qatar Airways to Manila by four additional flights.
“The new memo is a landmark agreement because it includes as a condition to the operation of the additional four flights to Manila by Qatar Airways, that it, likewise, operate between Doha and Davao within one year from commencement of the four additional flights to Manila,” Arcilla said.
He added that it is likely that Qatar Airways will commence the operation of the four additional flights to Manila by October 2017 or March 2018.
“It is perceived that the expansion of traffic rights between the Philippines and Qatar under the new memorandum will enhance the connectivity between the two countries that will enable the further expansion of trade, investment, services and people-to-people exchange between the two countries,” Arcilla added.
More important, he said, the inclusion of Davao in the route structure of Qatar Airways will provide much-needed connectivity for Davao to the major markets of the world, especially that Qatar is directly connected to 161 international destinations.
“This connectivity will support Davao’s emergence as a major economic and commercial hub of the Philippines,” the official said.
The said air talks was the culmination of the bilateral talks between Tugade and Minister Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Qatar Minister of Transport and Communications, held on occasion of the visit of President Duterte to the Middle East on April 16.