U.S. Grants Philippines Category 1 Safety Rating
The U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reinstated a Category 1 rating to the Republic of the Philippines following the agency’s determination in March that the country meets international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The country held a Category 1 rating until January 2008, when the FAA downgraded it a Category 2 due its failure to meet certain safety criteria. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority exhibits a deficiency in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.
With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, Filipino airlines can add flights and service to the U.S. and carry the code of U.S. carriers. As a result, Philippine Airlines can add routes and flight frequencies to the U.S. as well as fly different airplanes. By issuing a Category 2 rating, the U.S. effectively prevents an airline from adding any further service and blocks it from flying any airplanes other than those it operated into the U.S. at the time of the downgrade.
Flying 26 weekly flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Guam and Honolulu with Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340-300s, Philippine Airlines now plans to deploy six Boeing 777-300ERs for service to the U.S. mainland. Expansion plans include new routes to New York and Chicago. It said it would use Airbus A330-300s and A320s for service to Honolulu and Guam.
Meanwhile, also on April 10, the European Commission lifted flight restrictions into Europe for Filipino carrier Cebu Pacific Air, which had been on the European Union’s so-called safety blacklist.