Last week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in America restored the Philippines civil aviation status to a category 1 rating after it was demoted to category 2 six years ago amidst safety concerns. The FAA first banned all carriers from the Philippines in 2008 from flying into its airspace or adding to pre-existing routes between the Philippines and the United States. National carrier Philippine Airlines continued to fly to the United States under the FAA ban but it has been limited to 28 flights a week to four U.S. destinations and only with certain aircraft. The lift of the FAA ban means any carrier from the Philippines is now able to fly in American airspace and for carriers like Philippine Airlines it allows it to increase capacity and routes between the two countries.
In an encouraging day for aviation in the Philippines, the European Union (EU) also lifted a ban on Cebu Pacific (the country’s second largest airline) on the same day as the announcement by the FAA. According to Julian Vassallo of the European Commission “the good news doesn’t end there…The European Commission is likely to mount another assessment mission to the Philippines later in the year to assess Philippine aviation as a whole, including internal aviation, with the prospect of lifting the ban on Philippine aviation as a whole.”
Philippine Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement that the FAA upgrade “cements a landmark era in the Philippine aviation sector”.
As a result of these changes by both the FAA and the EU, AirlineRatings has also made changes to its safety ratings of airlines based in the Philippines. Cebu Pacific which previously scored only a 2/7 for safety has increased to a more respectable 4/7 for safety and Philippine Airlines, the country’s largest carrier has gone from a 5/7 to an impressive 6/7. Philippine Airlines low cost off-shoot PAL Express now rates as a 4/7 and AirAsia Zest a 3/7.
See our safety rating criteria and the importance of FAA and EU endorsement.