THE Philippine Airlines said Kuwait should grant the country’s flag carrier the privilege of exercising the Fifth Freedom rights as Kuwait Airways, the flag carrier of that small Arab country, has been exercising it for almost 20 years on its Bangkok to Manila route.
Siegfred Mison, PAL Vice President for Legal, General Counsel and Corporate Communications, said the PAL is waiting for the Kuwaiti government to open up again and sit down at the negotiating table to talk about the Fifth Freedom rights.
“We are still waiting to open up again a negotiation with Kuwait government about the fifth freedom rights,” Mison, former Bureau of Immigration commissioner, said during Thursday night’s announcement of the airline’s forthcoming service to Saipan.
Fifth Freedom is an airline privilege to pick up passengers and cargo from a foreign country and carry them to a second foreign country which is supposed to be the airline’s final destination. The PAL said it has been prevented from exercising its fifth freedom after the Kuwaiti government disallowed it.
Mison’s statement on the exercise of Fifth Freedom rights came in the heels of the PAL’s launching of a four-time weekly service (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) between Manila and Kuwait via Dubai to serve the travel needs of Filipino workers in Kuwait using an Airbus A330.
Mison said the airline is expecting more than 100 percent Filipinos from Dubai to choose PAL rather than fly with foreign airlines to that Arab country if the State of Kuwait has allowed the Philippines to exercise its fifth freedom.
The Kuwaiti government prevented the flag carrier from exercising its right to avail of fifth freedom traffic rights, even if the Philippines-Kuwait Bilateral Services Agreement of 1997, as amended in April 1995 and February 2009, clearly granted with such a right.
PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista said the Civil Aeronautics Board last month suspended Kuwait Airways’ Bangkok-Manila fifth freedom privileges but the foreign airline was permitted to increase its flights to Manila from six to eight weekly.
Meanwhile, Bautista said PAL will fly to Saipan by June 15 this year to serve the needs of Filipino “kababayan” who have long considered the flag carrier their “airline of choice.”
“This coming June 15, Saipan will become PAL’s 44th international destination when we lunch twice weekly service using our Airbus A320,” Bautista said.
He added the service will benefit the more than 19,000 Filipinos who comprise more than 35 percent of Saipan’s residents.
The new PAL’s route will be the most convenient for Filipinos and other Saipan dwellers to Manila and 29 other domestic and 43 international destinations where PAL flies.
Saipan is the latest addition to PAL’s route network, which recently included Doha, Jeddah and Kuwait this year as well as Port Moresby, Cairns, Auckland, Jinjiang and New York last year.
The PAL has introduced the newest link to the US mainland via its Cebu-Los Angeles service which commenced last March 15, coinciding with PAL’s 75th year. Furthermore, the airline is also eyeing the expansion of its services on four European destinations — Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Hamburg, Germany; Rome, Italy; and Paris, France.