Cebu Pacific gears up for EU, US flights

MANILA, Philippines – Local budget carrier Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) is keen on flying to Europe and the United States as soon as it hurdles regulatory and safety issues.

It is currently not allowed to fly to both destinations since it has yet to pass the safety standards set by the European Union, while the country has yet to be upgraded by the US Federal Aviation Authority to Category 1.

Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said at the arrival ceremonies of its Airbus A330-300 aircraft on Thursday, September 12, that the airline officials are set to present its safety credentials to the European Union’s transportation body in November.

“In November, we are going to make a formal presentation to EU authorities and we are likewise working towards a certification to be able to fly to Europe,” Gokongwei stressed.

Only rival Philippine Airlines (PAL) has been given the green light to fly to the EU after the safety ban on the country was lifted on July 10.

WATCH: How Philippines got off EU’s safety blacklist

Gokongwei expressed confidence that the airline has complied with the recommendations of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) following two incidents involving its aircraft in Davao International Airport and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Both June incidents were cited as reasons why the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) did not support the Gokongwei airline’s bid to fly to Europe.

“Based on that we continue to work towards to going to Europe in cooperation with the CAAP and the other EU governments to make our case to the EU aviation sector this November,” Gokongwei said, stressing the training of their pilots, as well as the review of its flight operating system by experts from Airbus.

He declined to name the countries in Europe they are currently eyeing.

PHOTOS: Inside the long-haul, budget flights of Cebu Pacific

US flights

He added that Cebu Pacific is also looking at mounting flights to the US once the country’s status is upgraded by the US FAA back to Category 1 within the year.

“For the US, there have been some pronouncements that Philippines expects to get out of Category 2 in the 4th quarter. At that point, we will probably look at certain routes in the US including Guam and Hawaii,” Gokongwei stressed.

The FAA downgraded the safety rating of the CAAP in 2008 based on the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body. The ICAO said the local aviation regulator failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.