THE Maldives would like to sign an air-services agreement with the Philippines that spells out unlimited traffic rights between their capital cities, a move that may spur growth in tourism in the Southeast Asian nation.
Ibrahim Faizal, who chairs the Maldivian Civil Aviation Authority, said his group is keen on signing an open-skies deal with the Philippine government.
“We prefer open sky. It means everyone can fly without limits,” he told the BusinessMirror. “What we want is not based on seats per flight, as far as we are concerned, as the Maldives has an open-sky policy.”
According to Civil Aeronautics Board Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla, the air talks will be scheduled soon, and is targeted to be held in the second quarter of 2018 in Manila.
“We were trying to firm up the schedule, which will be within the second quarter,” he told the BusinessMirror. “This is going to be basic agreement.”
While demand for travel from the Philippines to the Maldives is quite low, Arcilla said, signing an agreement with the country may prove to be beneficial for the local tourism industry.
“Connectivity is always a catalyst to growth. There might be tourists coming from the Maldives who want to visit another destination, say the Philippines,” he said.
The Maldives is a small island-state famous for its beaches and rich marine resources. Tourism is the country’s main industry.
“We want to forge an aviation relationship with them. We have nothing to lose,” Arcilla noted.
There is no existing bilateral agreement with the Maldives, as such, people coming from Manila will have to catch a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Tokyo, to get to the Maldives, and vice versa.
For its part, legacy carrier Philippine Airlines is reviewing the possibility of launching flights to the Maldives from Manila. “The Maldives is still under review. Our focus is the introduction of new products and services, such as nonstop flights to New York and Brisbane. We are also looking at flights to India, as well as additional routes to China and Japan,” Cielo Villaluna, the company’s spokesman, told the BusinessMirror.