Clark eyes Emirates restart
Recent air talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Manila restored hope that Clark will regain some flights to and from the Gulf territories.
Emirates, a UAE airline, is considering restarting flights to Clark with the Philippines’ restoration of seven additional weekly flights to the UAE, a member of the local panel said.
This, as the Philippines restored the seven weekly flights (or one additional flight per day) of UAE carriers starting March 2016.
In case all seven entitlements get allocated to UAE’s official flag carrier Emirates, that could lead to the airline’s return to Clark, said Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) director Jose Victor I. Luciano in a phone interview.
He was part of the Philippine panel for the air talks.
“Basically, we really considered to grow the traffic and because of additional flights, if Emirates gets them, they are taking a serious second look at Clark,” Luciano said.
Emirates has indicated it may consider a direct Dubai-Clark flight about three times a week if it gets all the seven newly approved UAE entitlements come March 2016.
“If they get less, they may still consider, but the odds will be higher if they get all seven,” Luciano said.
Emirates’ direct service to Clark was inaugurated on Oct. 1, 2013 but already stopped after several months on May 1, 2014 mainly due to low passenger traffic.
“Qatar (Airways), which kept up its service to Clark despite the initial challenges, already enjoy high load factors in Clark,” Luciano said.
However, Clark is not the only international airport outside Manila that is gunning for the fresh set of weekly flights allocated to UAE airlines.
Cebu and Davao are possibilities open to UAE carriers.
The Philippines agreed to restore seven weekly frequencies to UAE. Currently, the UAE has 28 weekly frequencies split between Emirates and Etihad Airways. With the air talks concluded favorably, they will soon have 35 weekly frequencies.
The restoration of flights Luciano referred to was the seven weekly flights that Emirates used to have via code share with national carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).
The code share arrangement expired on Oct. 26, 2014.
The CAB extended it several times up to Jan. 26, 2015. Since that time, Emirates has had 14 weekly (twice daily) flights instead of the previous 21. Another UAE airline, Etihad, has 14 weekly flights.
“Our talks are between countries and we cannot say which airline will get the frequencies. The UAE will decide how to allocate the frequencies,” he said.
UAE, in regaining seven weekly flights to the Philippines, also get fifth freedom rights for destinations outside Manila (that means Clark, Cebu, Davao, and other international airports) except to major markets such as Japan, the United States and Canada.
That means an Emirates flight to Clark can unload and take new passengers bound for, say, Singapore but not to Japan, the United States and Canada.
Luciano said the negotiating team for the bilateral air talks considered in their negotiations the high load factor (95 percent) claimed by UAE airlines, which use Boeing-777 airplanes with capacity of about 430 passengers per flight.
Tourism promotion and flight options for 850,000 Filipinos in Dubai were also considered.
On concerns of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific that more flight entitlements by UAE airlines will drive out competition, Luciano said the local panel imposed several conditions that should address them.
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