PAL, Cebu Pacific oppose new air talks with United Arab Emirates
MANILA, Philippines – Rival carriers Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air (Cebu Pacific) joined forces to oppose the planned new talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) set for early next year.
It was in September 2012 when the Philippines and the UAE first concluded air talks with UAE. The air pact doubled the flight entitlements to 28 per week from 14 per week between the two countries.
The Gulf carriers operate 5 daily flights between Manila and UAE as against the 3 daily flights of Philippine carriers.
Philippine carriers are protesting the Civil Aviation Aeronautics Board’s decision (CAB) to allow Emirates to increase its Dubai-Manila flights despite exceeding its allowable capacity.
“Emirates has already been granted an unfair and unwarranted frequency advantage by operating a third daily frequency beyond what is allowed by the UAE-Philippines agreement,” they added.
PAL and Cebu Pacific added that holding new bilateral air negotiations with UAE would favor Emirates that currently flies 3 times a day to UAE.
Emirates and Etihad Airways have 14 flight entitlements per week while PAL has 14; PAL Express has 7; and Cebu Pacific also has 7.
“Negotiating any new agreement with the UAE at this time would only serve to reward Emirates, the UAE’s biggest airline, for having blatantly disregarded the authority of the CAB,” the airlines said.
The airlines also asked CAB to stop Emirates from selling tickets to be flown beyond December 26 this year.
The local carriers even accused Emirates of influencing the Philippine Air Panel to hold air talks with the UAE in order to regularize its alleged illegal operations.
They added that it is unfair for the Philippine government to capitulate to a foreign carrier when the UAE authorities never prioritized the Philippine carriers when the Dubai International Airport was closed for repairs. They said both PAL and Cebu Pacific were thrown to farther airports while Emirates kept on operating in their home base.
PAL and Cebu Pacific also said that even airlines from the US and Europe have opposed the expansion of Middle Eastern carriers that are government-backed and subsidized. Even Japan, they said, which is fairly liberal in opening its skies, has limited the expansion of entitlements with Middle Eastern carriers.
“Philippine carriers who do not receive the same government subsidies will then be forced to compete on a playing field so skewed to the advantage of Middle Eastern carriers,” PAL and Cebu Pacific warned.
The carriers also accused Emirates of violating Republic Act 776, also known as the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines, for allegedly selling tickets for the Dubai-Manila-Dubai routes until October 2015 without CAB’s approval.
The CAB is set to hear the case on December 11.
Dubai-based Emirate Airlines stressed “it is not seeking 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 travelers,” Emirates said.
The airline also pointed out that it would continue to abide by the rules and regulation of the CAB. – Rappler.com