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Airline seeks seat rights to Middle East  Oct 07, 2008

Spirit Of Manila Airlines Corp. is seeking regulatory approval to fly to four destinations across Asia, as it takes advantage of recently signed agreements for seat rights between the Philippines and several destinations abroad.

In four separate filings, the Pampanga-based airline sought the Civil Aeronautics Board’s (CAB) nod to fly to Macau in China, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.

In its petition dated Oct. 2, the company asked the CAB to designate it as the official Philippine carrier to the four destinations and get allocations under air deals between the Philippines and these countries.

Since last April, negotiations with air panels from Macau, Hong Kong, Thailand, Iran and — most recently — Finland, have resulted in flight entitlements between these countries and the Philippines. Most of the flights will be through the international airports in Manila and Clark.

The company sought 1,036 seats to Macau, to where it now flies daily from Clark, Pampanga under a temporary permit.

The company also asked for 148 seats for Kuwait — equivalent to one flight — a route it now serves weekly also under a temporary permit.

Spirit of Manila, owned by businessman Juan C. Paraiso, also sought the right to fly to Bahrain. If granted, this will be the airline’s first direct flight to Bahrain, where it now flies to from Clark with a stopover in Dubai.

Meanwhile, the airline also wants to fly to Dubai twice weekly or an equivalent of 296 seats. Spirit of Manila now flies to Dubai using two Boeing 737-300 mid range aircraft also under a temporary permit. Hearings for the new seat entitlements will be held on Oct. 22.

Spirit of Manila Corporate Communications consultant Eric B. Apollonio noted that since January, the airline has been flying only with a temporary license from the CAB.

He said they are seeking the rights since "that is where the market is right now," referring to the Middle East

About 3,000 Filipino migrant workers leave the country daily, and more than two-thirds are bound for the Middle East.

He said once the rights are granted, the company would lease more aircraft, particularly long-range Boeing 747s and 767s, which are more capable of handling the nine-hour Middle East flights.

The DMIA in Pampanga is being primed as the next premiere international gateway.

Clark International Airport Corp. is planning to build a P6.5-billion terminal in the former US naval base that can accommodate seven million passengers yearly.

Airline seeks seat rights to Middle East

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