4 local airlines seek Saudi flightsBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Four local airlines have asked for the rights to mount flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following a recently signed bilateral deal that increases flights between the Philippines and the Middle East’s biggest nation.
Documents filed at the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), its sister firm Air Philippines Corp. and budget carriers’ Cebu Pacific and Zest Airways have indicated plans to start flights to Riyadh and other Saudi cities next year.
PAL alone asked for a daily flight each to Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman, all from Manila, translating to 21 flights a week. The company said it wanted to start flights to Riyadh in March, Jeddah in May and Damman in July.
PAL has a choice to use either its Airbus A330 and A340 or its Boeing 777 planes for the Saudi routes.
Cebu Pacific asked for 14 weekly flights between Manila and Jedah or Riyadh. The company also wants a flight a week to Damman. Cebu Pacific wants to start its Middle Eastern service in the second half of 2013.
Air Philippines, which will be renamed “PAL Express,” said it wanted two flights a day between Manila and Riyadh or Jeddah.
Zest Airways said it wanted to be allowed to fly one flight a week between Manila and Riyadh or Jeddah. The company said it would use an Airbus A330 wide-body jet for the route.
At the moment, Zest Airways’ entire fleet is made up of narrow-body, short-haul Airbus A320 planes that are good for regional flights within Southeast Asia or nearby cities in China and South Korea.
Both Air Philippines and Zest Airways wanted to start Middle Eastern flights by next year’s winter schedule.
The four airlines will be fighting over a limited number of flights between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. The deal between the inter-agency Philippine air panel and its Saudi counterpart signed last September increased the number of allowed flights between Manila and Jeddah or Riyadh to just 21 a week from the previous 10.
In an order signed Oct. 18, the CAB asked the four airlines to file position papers this month. “The case shall thereafter be submitted to the board for resolution,” the order read.
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