The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) on Thursday announced the signing of the latest bilateral pocket “open skies” deal, in line with the administration’s air rights liberalization approach.

The number of allowed seats per week between Manila and the former South Vietnam capital Ho Chi Minh was increased by 32 percent to 2,650.

The new deal was signed at the end of two-day negotiations in Ho Chi Minh between the Philippine air panel and its Vietnamese counterpart.

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is the biggest city in Vietnam.

With nine million people, it is also the most densely populated city in the former French Indochina, made up of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

The Philippine air panel was composed of representatives from the CAB, the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Tourism, among others. Representatives from local airlines were also allowed to join meetings, but only as observers.

The provision for unlimited flights to all points outside Manila is in line with the government’s efforts to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while at the same time promote countryside development.

The country’s first “open skies” deal was signed with Malaysia, shortly after EO 29 was issued earlier this year.

By Paolo G. Montecillo - Philippine Daily Inquirer - September 16, 2011