Brent Hannon/TAIPEI

A long-running aviation dispute between the Philippines and Taiwan has escalated sharply, with the Philippines terminating the air service agreement between the countries, effective from 1 October. Air links between the countries will be banned from that date, says the Philippines aviation authority.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) says talks broke down as a result of the Philippines' insistence that Taiwan carriers should share profits with Manila whenever Taiwan airlines sell more than 4,000 seats per week. Taiwan airlines have a quota of 9,600 seats a week.

China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways will adhere to the ban, but hope the two governments can find a solution. The Taiwan CAA says it will resume negotiations only if the Philippines withdraws the suspension and if it agrees to keep the weekly allotment at 9,600 seats.

The dispute began in June, when the Philippines accused CAL and EVA of carrying passengers from Manila to Taipei, and on to the USA, which it called a sixth freedom violation. The dispute escalated in July, when the Philippines ordered CAL to ground flights between Hong Kong and Manila for one month, charging that CAL switched from an Airbus A300 to a Boeing 747-400 on the route.

CAL says it used the 747 when the Airbus was undergoing maintenance, but says it sold the same number of seats as before, to conform to the agreement. Nonetheless, CAL will suspend its Hong Kong/Manila flight indefinitely, says the airline. CAL flies 28 times a week between the two countries, seven flights from Kaohsiung, 14 from Taipei CKS Airport to Manila and seven from CKS to Manila via Hong Kong. EVA flies 11 weekly flights to Manila, using a 747-400. Philippine Airlines flies nine times a week between Taipei and Manila, using A330 and A340s.

Far Eastern Air Transport and TransAsia Airways, which operate charters to Philippine destinations, will also be required to terminate their flights from 1 October.

Source: Flight International