The Philippines and Rwanda sealed their first ever air service agreement, opening up the prospect for commercial flights between the two countries. By Miguel R. Camus

The Philippine air negotiation panel, a multiagency body, signed on July 25 a memorandum of understating that contained the air service agreement with Rwanda, an African country known for its lush forest parks and gorilla trekking tours.

Under the deal, both countries will get seven weekly flights for designated airlines and cargo operations of up to 400 tons.

Moreover, the air agreement allows these airlines to market services on third-country carriers provided that the latter have the appropriate route rights and are registered to a state that allows such operations.

The agreement marks the fifth air deal with an African country. The Philippines had previously signed air agreements with Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya and South Africa.

It was not immediately clear if local carriers planned to mount flights to any destination in the African mainland. So far, Ethiopian Airlines has direct flights to the Philippines.

The Philippines’ negotiation panel is chaired by Undersecretary Jose Eduardo Malaya of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The panel’s members include Transportation Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo, Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras, Tourism Undersecretary Edwin Enrile, Civil Aeronautics Board Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla, OTLA Executive Director Igor Bailen and Trade and Industry Director Joan Karen Riola.

Arcilla earlier said the Philippines was eyeing air talks with Morocco and Jordan within 2019.

He said those planned talks were mainly for diplomatic purposes. The Philippines recently held diplomatic discussions with Chile and Timor-Leste, he added.

Arcilla said those talks were aimed at strengthening relations and served as a way of exploring potential trade and investment opportunities.