Philippine Budget Carrier Eyes Flights to New Zealand

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | April 22, 2014 12:01 PM EST

A month after air pact between New Zealand and the Philippines was signed in March, one of the latter's budget carriers has applied to mount flights to the Kiwi nation.

In an application filed before the Philippines' Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Cebu Air Inc (Cebu Pacific) sought to be recognised as the country's official air carrier to New Zealand. Moreover, it sought approval to operate seven weekly flights.

In March, New Zealand and the Philippines forged an agreement to increase the frequency entitlement to 21 flights per week, a significant jump from the current three flights per week between the two countries.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), one of the country's carriers, is expected to follow suit to its rival's application.

Cebu Pacific's application comes after the Philippines regained in April, after six long years, its much-coveted aviation rating upgrade from U.S. authorities.

The Philippines was given a Category 1 rating by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for complying with international safety standards set by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

"The return to Category 1 status is based on a March 2014 FAA review of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). A Category 1 rating means the country's civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards," the FAA said.

"With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, the Republic of the Philippines' air carriers can add flights and service to the United States and carry the code of US carriers," it added.

The Cebu Pacific application could prove positive news to the Filipino population that's increasing in New Zealand.

Based on the latest 2013 data released by the New Zealand census office, the Filipino population has reached 40,000, up from over 11,000 in 2001.

Read: New Zealand 2013 Census Showed Number of Overseas Born Kiwis Hit 1M

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