Scheduled flights between Taiwan and the Philippines were restored last month after the two sides forged a tentative agreement on new air services. It ends a dispute lasting more than four months.

The agreement was signed on 28 January in Manila, allowing for flights to resume from 31 January. Regular flights did not resume for two weeks, however, as airlines worked to rearrange schedules.

Scheduled services were halted from the start of October, when Manila unilaterally cancelled a three-year-old air services agreement over alleged violations of its terms by Taipei-based China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways.

The Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) accused the carriers of a number of violations of the 1996 agreement, with its main charge being that the airlines were carrying Philippines-Taiwan traffic onward to the USA - a so-called sixth freedom.

The CAB had demanded that a new agreement be drawn up to allow for just 3,000 passengers to be carried weekly between the Philippines and Taiwan by carriers from each side - down from 9,600 as allowed for in the 1996 accord. Taiwan refused, accusing the CAB of seeking to punish CAL and EVA to aid Philippine Airlines, which was put in receivership in mid-1998 under a debt of more than $2 billion.

Taiwan's CAA says that while the terms of the 1996 accord still officially apply, the interim agreement allows for 4,800 passengers a week to be carried between Taipei and Manila. It also allows for 4,800 passengers a week to be carried between other points, such as between Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Cebu in the Philippines.

The CAA adds that there are "no restrictions on sixth freedom" traffic in the interim agreement, and says further talks are to be held at a later date to work out additional unspecified details.

Source: Airline Business