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Manila-Brussels direct flights to start soon after PBBM, Belgium execs agree to enhance air travel ties

MANILA -- Europeans visiting Asia may soon use Manila as an entry point to other neighboring Southeast Asian countries, while Filipino visitors entering Europe may fly directly to Belgium to access other destinations particularly in Western Europe.

This comes after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Brussels airport officials on Tuesday agreed to work on mounting direct flights between Manila and Brussels.  The meeting was on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations- European Union (ASEAN-EU) commemorative summit.

The proposal to open the Manila-Brussels direct flight came from Brussels airport officials who showed great interest in gaining a foothold in the Philippines.

Arnaud Feist, chief executive officer of Brussels Airport Company, said the Manila-Brussels direct flight is a "win-win" for both countries. 

"We are working on the opportunity to have a direct flight between Manila and Brussels… And we think that basically there is a win-win for both countries to be connected directly," Feist said. 

President Marcos, for his part, said opening a non-stop flight to Brussels serves as an opportunity for Filipinos who want to explore what Belgium and the rest of western Europe have to offer. 

"When we talk about Brussels in our mind, it's really Western Europe because, very clearly, Brussels is very much at the center of that. And so that is something of great interest," the President pointed out.

"The pent-up demand over the pandemic is now beginning to show itself, and the demand for air travel has actually increased a great deal more quickly than I had expected," the President said.

During the meeting, President Marcos pointed out that all capitals in Southeast Asia are within a few hours from Manila.

"That's something that we would like to take advantage of and exploit in terms of making the areas more accessible… I think there's a great deal of opportunity it will be advantageous for the both of us," Marcos said. 

Philippine Airlines (PAL) officials said they are "really interested" in providing accessibility in connecting Filipinos to the whole European nation as well as bringing more tourists from Europe to the Philippines.

"That's really the vision that we are excited to see. We want to improve the economic activities in the Philippines and also here," said Stanley Ng, PAL president and chief operating officer. 

Among those who attended the event were officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and PAL. 

Also in attendance were Speaker Martin Romualdez and Senator Mark Villar. (PND)

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Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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