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9 April 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally restored the Category 1 rating of the Philippines after finding it compliant with international aviation safety standards, the Philippine Embassy announced today.

With the Category 1 upgrade, Philippine flag carriers can now operate normally and expand their operations in the US, said Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. who immediately reported the development to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario.

The FAA decided to restore the country’s Category 1 rating based on the recommendations from the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) report in March. It came six years after the Philippines was downgraded to Category 2 for failing to meet international aviation safety standards.

“Regaining Category 1 status has been one of our major economic diplomacy thrusts in the United States,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “With the Category 1 rating, we hope to see the expansion of flight routes in the US by Philippine air carriers.

“This means opening up more routes for business and tourism travel between the Philippines and the US as well as creating more opportunities for Philippine and American business,” he said.

For the past several years, the Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Embassy in Washington, D.C., has been working closely with the FAA and coordinating with the Civilian Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to restore the country’s Category 1 status.

The Embassy said the upgrade also followed the meeting between Ambassador Cuisia and FAA Associate Administrator Margaret Giligan in early February, where the former underscored the Philippine Government’s commitment to aviation safety and sustainability as well as the efforts undertaken by the CAAP under the leadership of Director General William Hotchkiss to address FAA concerns.

In that meeting, Associate Administrator Giligan noted the active engagement of the Philippine Government with the FAA to ensure compliance with aviation safety and standards, the Embassy added.

The FAA lowered the country’s safety rating to Category 2 in January 2008 upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which had found "significant concerns" over CAAP's ability to meet international safety standards.

A category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards or that its civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

As a result of the downgrade, local carriers such as Philippine Airlines were barred from expanding their routes in the US as well as in taking part in reciprocal code-share arrangements with American carriers.

However, with the Category 1 rating, Philippine carriers may now initiate or continue service the US in a normal manner and enter into code-share arrangements with American airlines. ###