Gokongwei: Reciprocity will bring in the tourists

Here’s a good speech by Lance Gokongwei (click here) on the Open Skies issue and the need for reciprocity. Excerpt:

"Examples of lack of reciprocity

Now, let me cite a few examples of the consequences of non-reciprocity:

  • Seat limitations skewed to favor foreign carriers over local carriers.

The existing agreement between the Philippines and Hong Kong limits local carriers to only 2,500 seats per week on the Hong Kong-Cebu route; Hong Kong carriers get the same number. Under EO 29, Philippine carriers will still be limited to 2,500 per week but all Hong Kong carriers can now fly this route without any limit.

  • Exhaustion of air rights in major destinations and routes.

An early EO in 2008 declaring "open skies" sans reciprocity in Clark resulted in Hong Kong Express flying into Clark without limitations. CEB was unable to compete because air rights to Hong Kong were fully utilized at that time. CEB could not use Clark unless it reduced its HK services from Cebu. This was solved only after subsequent bilateral air talks resulted in additional air rights. This undue delay in CEB’s ability to compete with a foreign carrier should not have happened if reciprocity was in place. CEB has been flying to HK every day since and offering the lowest fares out of Clark.

  • Inability to offer lower fares to potential high yield tourist markets.
Japan has always been considered a major tourism market. Currently CEB flies to Osaka three times weekly. We have been asking for additional flights to Osaka which the Philippines is entitled to under the current Philippine-Japan Air Services Agreement. However our request, to this day, has not been approved. In the meantime, All Nippon Airways (ANA) was recently allowed to come in and operate flights from Tokyo to Manila under the very same Air Services Agreement. This is another example of the lack of reciprocity."

The problem is, how can we now effectively negotiate for reciprocity when we’ve unilaterally opened up our skies already? Who would pay for something that they already got for free? A better way of making policy should be had rather than this.