Iran, Philippines Ink Air Agreement

A02029289.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Philippine air panel has sealed the country’s first ever air services agreement with Iran in anticipation of an increase in demand for Mideast-bound flights.

Under the basic agreement signed Tuesday evening in Pasay City, Manila-based airports were allocated four flights a week to Iran.

The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark was allowed seven flights and 700 tons of cargo a week.

Airports outside Manila and Clark – particularly those in Iloilo, Subic, Zamboanga and Davao City – will share five flights a week.

The main beneficiaries of Mideast-bound flights are overseas workers, although air travel authorities acknowledge that the new route will only make a small impact initially since no Philippine carrier has plans to fly to Iran.

But Mahan Air of Iran has expressed interest to operate immediately through Manila and, eventually, via Clark.

“The market at this stage is small, but having the agreement is the first step in developing a growing market between the two countries,” Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said.

According to the Center for Strategic Initiatives, a nongovernment organization, there are around 1.5 million overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East and 960,000 in Asia. But until recently, there were only 30 weekly flights between the Middle East and the Philippines, and 324 weekly flights between Asia and the Philippines.

Recent air services agreements between the Philippines and the rest of Asia are expected to address the service gap.

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