Budget carrier Cebu Pacific has chosen Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the first destination for its long-haul operations out of Manila, with flights starting Oct. 7 this year.
Cebu Pacific Long-Haul Division General Manager Alex Reyes announced on Thursday that Dubai would be the first of many planned destinations for the airline in the Middle East, a region that hosts one of the world’s largest concentrations of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
Once the daily service begins later this year, Cebu Pacific will be the only local airline with a direct flight to anywhere in the Middle East.
“With Cebu Pacific’s direct service to Dubai, Filipinos overseas can look forward to going home more often. Their relatives and friends can also visit them in Dubai more often,” Reyes said in the briefing.
Reyes said of the three million Filipinos in the Middle East, 700,000 are in the United Arab Emirates.
He said Dubai was also the busiest long-haul market for airlines, local or foreign, operating out of the Philippines.
Traffic between Dubai and Manila is 75 percent heavier than the second-biggest long-haul market for the Philippines, the route between Manila and Los Angeles.
“Dubai is a tremendously underserved market and it is the perfect entry point for Cebu Pacific’s long-haul operations,” Reyes said.
Apart from Dubai, Reyes said the company was looking at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as another possible destination in the Middle East.
The airline plans to use Airbus A330-300 planes for its long-haul services. With a single-class configuration, the planes will be able to carry over 400 passengers each, Cebu Pacific said.
Cebu Pacific said it may lease as many as eight Airbus A330s, which will give the company the ability to fly to destinations in Europe, Australia, and North America. Two of these planes are set to arrive this year.
Cebu Pacific currently operates a fleet of 41 planes, made up of 10 Airbus A319s, 23 Airbus A320s, and eight ATR 72-500 turboprop planes.