By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday welcomed a newly signed air services agreement that would double passenger flights between the Philippines and Türkiye.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said the deal would further position the Philippines as an ideal destination for international travelers, boosting the number of arrivals, especially during this summer season.
Under the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Frasco said the DOT has identified the improvement of connectivity as one of its core objectives to strengthen the tourism industry.
“Thus, we recognize and commend the efforts of our counterparts from the transportation sector led by the Department of Transportation for helping us improve our air services partnerships that would give our would-be visitors the improved tourist experience that they deserve,” she said in a statement.
Frasco said the Turkish Airline (TK), Türkiye’s flag carrier, has been Manila’s “longtime partner” in servicing European and Mediterranean source markets into the country.
Transportation Undersecretary Roberto Lim and Turkish Civil Aviation Acting Director General Dr. Kemal Yüksek earlier signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that improves the bilateral air services regime between the Philippines and Turkiye after air consultations between the Philippine and Turkish Air Panels in March 2023.
The air talks resulted in a doubling of passenger air service entitlements for the Philippines and Turkiye on the Manila-Istanbul route from the previous seven flights per week on each side to 14 flights per week.
Half or seven of the total Turkish entitlements to Manila will be on a co-terminal basis with Cebu, which Frasco sees as a recognition of the “services and sustainability efforts made in the award-winning Mactan-Cebu International Airport.”
Beginning the International Airport Association (IATA) Summer Season 2023, TK will be allowed to fly 12 times a week from Manila to Istanbul, five of which will also have a stop in Cebu as a co-terminal before flying back.
This will increase to 14 weekly flights in the IATA Summer Season 2024, seven of which TK should co-terminalize.
Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines will continue to code-share with TK on the latter’s Istanbul-Manila flights and vice versa.
To help stir the growth of direct traffic, both sides also agreed to allow third-country code-sharing.
This means the Philippine and Turkish carriers can put their airline code and sell flights on third-country carriers that have the right to operate and carry traffic on international routes that include the territories of the Philippines and Turkey.
The Philippines and Turkey first executed an air services agreement in 2010. (PNA)