Emirates denies claim it is seeking more flights to Manila

Philippines Airlines and Cebu Pacific called for their Civil Aeronautics Board to refrain from holding bilateral talks with the UAE, citing unfair advantages for Emirates.

Emirates Airline denied it was interested in additional flights to Manila, amid complaints from Philippine carriers over government talks with the UAE that could result in a new aviation deal between the countries.

In a joint statement, the flag carrier Philippines Airlines and Cebu Pacific, the country’s biggest budget carrier, called for their Civil Aeronautics Board (Cab) to refrain from holding bilateral talks with the UAE, citing unfair advantages for Emirates.

They also asked their authorities to expand their flights to the Middle East and offer more affordable air fares in a “fair and competitive environment”.

Since January last year, Emirates has operated a third daily flight between Dubai and Manila but said it was not seeking approval for any additional flights to Manila.

The Philippine carriers said that Emirates had already been granted an “unfair and unwarranted advantage by operating a third daily frequency beyond what is allowed by the UAE-Philippines agreement”.

The Philippine carriers also stated that their government should not give a foreign carrier priority, complaining that the UAE did not prioritise Philippine carriers during the runway closure at Dubai International Airport this year.

The airport underwent runway repairs for 80 days that limited capacity and forced some airlines to temporarily operate at Al Maktoum Airport at Jebel Ali.

“When the Dubai International Airport was closed for repairs, both Philippines Airlines and Cebu Pacific were thrown to farther airports while Emirates kept on operating in their home base,” the airlines said.

Emirates responded that its third daily flight to Manila was based on “a progressive and measured way, in line with market demand and authorisations granted by the Philippine authorities”.

Emirates said: “We of course fully respect the Cab and abide by its rules and procedures.”

Dubai is home to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, according to data from Emirates, and the carrier expects thousands more to take jobs ahead of Expo 2020. Etihad Airways operates two daily flights from the UAE capital to Manila and has a code-share and a commercial agreement with Philippines Airlines.

Selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Published: December 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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