'Aviation safety status update likely in June'
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will likely get an aviation safety status update this June, an aviation expert said.
Veteran aviation industry player Benjamin Solis said that the Philippines' Category 2 status with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) may finally be lifted so local carriers can expand their operations in the United States.
"Most likely, if things go well and the reports reflect positive results, we can expect a status update either by the end of May or early June," Solis said in a phone interview on Friday, March 1.
He was referring to the report of the safety auditors from global agency International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that will be the basis of FAA's next steps.
"The upgrade will depend on the FAA as they were the ones who gave the downgrade in 2008. This is hopefully after ICAO releases its full report and file a recommendation," Solis said.
FAA downgraded its peer industry regulator Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to Category 2 status in 2008 for failing to meet global aviation standards as it regulates local aviation players.
The US aviation agency's decision was based on an ICAO report in 2008 citing significant safety issues including CAAP's safety and oversight structure and the revalidation of airline carriers, among others.
Following the ICAO audit, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya expressed optimism that the Philippines has passed the aviation safety audit and that a recommendation to lift all safety issues is at hand.
In a February 23 statement, Abaya said that the team will recommend to ICAO headquarters in Montreal the lifting of the Significant Safety Concerns issued to the Philippines and will officially announce the good news in two to 3 weeks time.
A favorable ICAO audit and a positive FAA review have been long awaited especially by local airlines that would like to bring more tourists from the huge markets of the US and EU.
Early in 2012, the government admitted that the country's aviation safey status is dragging the potential growth of tourism behind. - Rappler.com