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PH airlines buck gov’t move on Emirates

Extra 7 flights seen to hurt local firms
/ 03:19 AM December 01, 2014

Rivals Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific took a common stand and jointly opposed the government’s decision to allow Emirates more time to operate an “excess” seven weekly flights between the crucial Manila market and Dubai, alleging it was unfair and would hurt their business.

Philippine Airlines, PAL Express, Cebu Pacific and its unit Tiger Airways Philippines announced in a statement on Friday their “grave concern” that the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board allowed Emirates a 30-day extension to continue using frequencies in excess of its maximum entitlement.

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The extension allows Emirates to operate until Dec. 26, 2014, which is in the midst of the busy Christmas travel season marked by the return of Filipino workers overseas, many of whom are flying in from the Middle East.

CAB officials did not immediately return calls seeking its comment on Saturday. An Emirates spokesperson was also unable to immediately reply over the weekend.

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In the statement, the Philippine carriers said the seven weekly flights went beyond the maximum under the existing Philippines-United Arab Emirates bilateral air agreement.

They said their objections started as early as Oct. 13 when the CAB granted Emirates a 30-day extension through Nov. 26 to operate those seven weekly flights “presumably by virtue of its authority to grant extra frequencies to any foreign carrier for a period of not more than 30 days.” They said counting the further extension, CAB has granted Emirates an extension of 60 days now.

At stake is a bigger slice of the Filipino overseas market based in the Middle East and especially Dubai, where Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific mount direct flights. The United Arab Emirates is also a major source of remittances, which rose 6.1 percent to $17.64 billion in the nine months through September this year.

“The Philippine carriers believe that the issuance of the extended grant to operate additional 7 flights only worsens the current injurious situation, as Emirates had long been selling seats on these flights without prior CAB approval as required by RA 776,” the statement read.

“This constitutes blatant disregard of the CAB’s authority and thus the Philippine carriers respectfully appeal to the CAB to take the immediate and necessary action to cause this foreign carrier to cease and desist its defiance of the Philippine government, in the interest of fair competition and the growth of the Philippine aviation industry,” it added.

The carriers also claimed that the CAB has no authority to grant extra frequencies in Manila under Section 3 of Executive Order No. 29, which deals with the CAB’s right to add frequencies in airports outside of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“If Emirates truly wants to expand its service into the Philippines, it has every opportunity to put up new flights to Clark, Cebu or other Philippine international airports outside of Manila,” the carriers said in the statement.

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TAGS: Airline industry, Business, Cebu Pacific, economy, News, PAL
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