Taiwan and the Philippines have signed a new air services agreement, ending a year-long dispute that had suspended flights between the countries since October last year.

The deal allows each country to fly 4,800 seats per week between Taipei and Manila, and 1,700 per week between Kaohsiung and Manila. The new agreement also allows 3,100 seats per week to destinations other than Manila and Cebu, plus another 450 seats to Subic Bay, making a weekly total of 10,050 seats. The previous agreement dating back to 1996 allowed a total of 9,600 seats per week between Taiwan and Manila

The Philippines reneged on the 1996 deal last October, claiming that China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Air were unfairly flying US-bound passengers from Manila, through Taipei and on to the USA. The new accord does not address the issue of US-bound Filipinos.

CAL is resuming flights in stages, starting with 10 flights between October 8 and October 27, then increasing to daily Taipei-Manila flights using a Boeing MD-11, and daily Taipei-Kaohsiung flights, using a Boeing 737-800, before adding four additional Taipei-Manila flights on December 1. EVA began daily flights with MD-11s on 9 October.

Taiwan bargained from a position of strength: the number of tourists from Taiwan to the Philippines has dropped 60% since the suspension of flights, and Taiwanese investment in the Philippines has declined more than 70%. But CAL and EVA have been little affected by the suspension, with both carriers posting record revenues and profits in July and August.

Source: Flight International