The Civil Aeronautics Board has granted the request of flag carrier Philippine Airlines and low-cost airline Cebu Pacific to fly between Manila and Moscow, the capital city of Russia, under a new bilateral air service agreement.
CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the aviation regulator had allocated five frequency entitlements to PAL and three frequency entitlements to Cebu Pacific.
PAL was requesting for five-times weekly flights between Manila and Moscow; three times weekly between Manila and Khabarovsk; and four times weekly between Cebu and Khabarovsk.
PAL, as a designated carrier on the route, has been promoting Russian tourist travel to the Philippines by operating Manila-Vladsvostok flights and Kalibo-Valadivostok flights over the last two years.
“We now hope to develop the Philippine Russia tourist and travel market,” PAL vice president for external affairs and partnerships Maria Socorro Gonzaga earlier said.
Cebu Pacific was also requesting to fly three times weekly between Manila and Moscow and between Manila and Vladivostok.
Vladivostok is the nearest major Russian city to Asia.
The CAB also designated PAL Express and AirAsia Inc. as official Philippine carrier to Russia, under the air service agreement between Manila and Moscow.
The Tourism Department said about 40,000 Russian tourists visited the Philippines each year in the past, a number that was expected to rise following the signing of a new air service agreement.
Russia along with the Middle East, Europe and Japan are considered as high-yield tourist markets for the Philippine, with $1,000 spending per visitor.
The Tourism Department said the Philippines would likely meet its 5.2 million international visitor arrivals target this year, after the actual number reached more than 4 million in the first 10 months.
The Philippines recorded 4.39 million foreign visitors in the January-October period, up 11.3 percent from 3.96 million a year ago.
The top markets for the Philippines in the 10-month period were Korea with 1.1 million visitors; the United States, 636,658; Japan, 417,147; China, 415,868; Australia, 188,971; Singapore, 150,405; Malaysia, 129,120; the United Kingdom, 123,414 and Canada, 120,903.
Other high growth markets were Spain with 19,208; New Zealand, 15,724; France, 37,135; Saudi Arabia, 44,339; Netherlands, 22,620; Hong Kong, 104,075.
The Tourism Department said international visitor arrivals were expected to hit 6 million in 2016.