Emirates still keen on maintaining Manila-Dubai service
Emirates wants to keep its thrice daily flights from Manila to Dubai—a third of which are now being sought by domestic carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air as they plan to expand their business in the lucrative Middle East market.
Emirates Tuesday formally responded to a statement released by PAL and Cebu Pacific over the weekend, criticizing the government’s decision to allow the Gulf carrier more time to operate an “excess” seven of its 21 weekly flights from Manila to Dubai.
The excess flights were what remained of Emirates’ codeshare deal with PAL that had been recently scrapped.
The Manila slots are valuable due to congestion issues facing Ninoy International Airport. The concerns have been raised ahead of the busy Christmas travel season, marked by the return of Filipinos workers.
Dubai, which is Emirates’ main hub, is home to about 850,000 overseas Filipino workers.
PAL and Cebu Pacific took aim at the decision by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which gave Emirates another 30 days until Dec. 26 to use the seven weekly flights, which the carriers argued was unfair and went beyond the existing Philippines-United Arab Emirates bilateral air agreement.
The added time comes on top of another 30 day extension that should have ended on Nov. 26, but the board had to postpone its meeting last month, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in an interview.
Arcilla said the second extension was granted to maintain the “status quo” and their next meeting has been set on Dec. 11.
Emirates Tuesday said in its statement that it would “fully respect” the CAB and abide by its rules and procedures. But the airline maintained that it would want to keep its Manila-Dubai service at three times a day.
““Emirates is not seeking any additional flights to Manila over and above its current operations. Our third daily flight on the Dubai-Manila route was implemented in January 2013 and has since become an integral service which is extremely popular with travellers,” it said.
PAL and Cebu Pacific pointed out in their statement that in the Philippines-UAE agreement—which was expanded in 2012, allowing 28 weekly flights for carriers on each side—Emirates was free to mount Dubai flights out of Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
But Clark has struggled to draw traffic because of its distance from Metro Manila. Emirates had attempted to build up its Clark operations but abandoned the plan last May, after operating for just seven months, due to poor passenger load and high fuel taxes.
The remaining slots allocated to UAE-based carriers went to Etihad, which serves Manila-Abu Dhabi and is PAL’s current codeshare partner.
Emirates also pointed to its long history in the Philippines.
“For the last 24 years, Emirates’ flights between Dubai and Manila have been playing a significant role in facilitating trade and tourism, in addition to offering convenient travel options for overseas Filipino workers,” it stated.
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