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RDC Endorses Open Skies Policy for Southern Luzon International Airport

Southern Luzon International Airport (Bicol International AIrport) under construction
Southern Luzon International Airport (Bicol International AIrport) under construction

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 24  -- The Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) on Wednesday endorsed to President Benigno Aquino III the adoption of “pockets of open skies” once the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA) in Albay province becomes operational in 2013.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, concurrent RDC chairperson, said during a full council meeting officially endorsed to President Aquino and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) the adoption of an open sky policy for SLIA to promote competition in the airline industry.

Salceda said the open sky policy would indeed perk up the civil aviation industry, and is designed to boost tourist arrivals in the country.

Salceda cited the experience of Clark where international traffic virtually soared from 7,880 to 600,000 after open skies was applied in 2004.

"An open skies should equalize the opportunities for regional destinations vis-a-vis the more developed incumbents like Manila, Cebu and Davao,” he said

The resolution says the Southern Luzon International Airport Project will become the only international airport located in Southern Luzon Philippines and the open sky policy will open up routes to competition for the Southern Luzon International airport that will boost its competitiveness and long term feasibility.

The resolution added that an open skies in Daraga should further accelerate the tourism growth of Bikol which Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim acknowledged as one of the fastest growing destinations for foreign tourists with Legazpi serving as the gateway to a well-diversified portfolio that includes Misibis, Caramoan, Mayon, CWC and Donsol.

The SLIA is targeted to serve the needs of 7.1 million people with 5.4 million in Bikol and 1.65 million in the three provinces of Samar island.

The adoption of the open sky policy for SLIA is seen to expand the contestable markets in both domestic and international routes and it will put pressure on the airline industry to lower their costs of fare and to pass cost savings on to passengers prompting low cost carriers to play more prominent position in a liberalized environment that will provide stimulus for serving more markets and will put pressure on existing airlines to perform well.

An open skies policy would hugely benefit OFW movement within such population base of 7.1 million by affording them more options and competitive costs, particularly by eliminating the current requisite for connecting flight or travel to Metro Manila.

The RDC resolution said the adoption of the open skies policy will greatly enhance the prospects of tourism development where the region enjoys comparative advantage by way of its iconic endowments and new investments in destination.