MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday met with Brussels Airport chief executive officer (CEO) Arnaud Feist to discuss the possibility of launching nonstop flights between Belgium and the Philippines.
Marcos, who is currently in Brussels, met with Feist on the sidelines of his participation in the commemorative summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU).
The plan to set up flights between Brussels and Manila is meant to allow passengers to enjoy “hassle-free” travel, the Office of the President (OP) said in a Facebook post.
“During the meeting, they discussed the setting up of direct flights from Brussels to Manila, allowing Filipinos, Europeans, and Southeast Asians to travel and enjoy hassle-free flights to and from the Philippines and Belgium,” the OP said.
The President said opening non-stop flights 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 the center of that. And that is something of great interest," he said.
Marcos pointed out that air travel has increased “more quickly” than any had expected and 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 explore in terms of making the areas more accessible. I think there's a great deal of opportunity that would be advantageous for the both of us," he added.
Feist, meanwhile, 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," he said.
Philippine Airlines president and chief operating officer Stanly Ng said their airline is "really interested" in providing accessibility in connecting Filipinos to the whole of Europe, 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," Ng said.
To date, no airline offers direct flights between the Philippines and Belgium.
Feist serves as a Board Member of the Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI) since 2011 and Airports Council International (ACI) Europe since 2018.
Brussels Airport, one of Europe’s largest airports, accommodated an estimated 9,357,221 passengers and transported more than 843,000 tons of cargo in 2021, according to the data released on its official website.
The airport connects Brussels to more than 200 destinations worldwide.
After his meeting with Feist, Marcos is set to participate in the 10th ASEAN-EU Business Summit.
With the Philippines as the current Country Coordinator on ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations, the President will conclude the Business Summit as he delivers his remarks before fellow leaders of the ASEAN and EU Member States. (PNA)