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Philippines, Japan agree to increase flights

Kyodo

The Philippines and Japan have agreed to increase commercial flights between their countries to boost tourism and business, a Philippine official said.

Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board, said the agreement to increase “the traffic rights or total maximum flight frequencies for the airlines” of both countries to 400 flights per week between Manila and Narita was signed Friday in Tokyo.

The maximum flights allowed was previously 119 per week.

The new deal also bumps up traffic at Haneda airport in Tokyo.

“We also agreed on new traffic rights between Haneda airport and Manila at 14 flights per week for each side, and unlimited traffic rights between airports in the Philippines except Manila, and points in Japan, except Haneda,” Arcilla said in an email message sent Saturday to Kyodo News.

“This is a major breakthrough, especially that Japan is a major (economy), in fact, the third biggest tourism market for the Philippines,” he said.

The Philippines tourism department logged 209,813 visitors from Japan in the first half, up 7.32 percent from the same period last year. For the whole year, it drew 2,143,506 tourists.

In July, Japan relaxed its visa policy for Filipinos as part of a wider effort to lure more Southeast Asian tourists to Japan.

Noting that talks for expanding Japan-Philippines flights were last held in 2008 and that the current Philippine entitlements are almost fully utilized, Arcilla said the new agreement is “one of most liberal increases that we have concluded so far.”

He attributes the positive development to the “current liberal aviation policies of both countries.”