PAL seeks DFA help in Kuwaiti air dispute
Philippine Airlines of bilyonaryo Lucio Tan has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to intervene in an ongoing dispute with the Kuwaiti government over fifth freedom rights.
“We respectfully request for the support and assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs in taking the appropriate measures and initiatives that would help PAL secure the needed Kuwaiti authorization for our Dubai-Kuwait fifth freedom rights, including diplomatic protests and special representations with the government of the State of Kuwait, as may be warranted,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said in a letter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
The national carrier’s plea for government assistance came after Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation prevented PAL from exercising its right to pick up passengers and cargo from a foreign country and carry them to a second country, which is the final destination.
The rights are granted under the Philippine-Kuwait Bilateral Air Services Agreement of 1977, as amended in April 1995 and February 2009.
PAL flies four-times weekly service between Manila and Kuwait (via Dubai) on Jan. 17 this year primarily to serve Filipino expatriate workers using a 414-seater Airbus A330 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Kuwait, however, only authorized PAL to carry passengers and cargo traveling solely between the Philippines and either Kuwait or Dubai.
Bautista said Kuwait’s disapproval undermined the principle of reciprocity in availing the grant of aviation rights to level the playing field among parties in air services pacts.
Kuwait Airways, on the other hand, had been availing of fifth freedom traffic rights between Bangkok and Manila for close to 20 years. This right has been suspended last month to address the imbalance.