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Emirates to stop Clark-Dubai flights

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Intense competition and high tax costs prompt the international airline to suspend its Clark operations

NO MORE CLARK FLIGHTS. Emirates will cease flying direct to Dubai from Clark due to intense competition and high tax costs. Photo courtesy of Emirates

MANILA, Philippines – Emirates announced on Monday, March 24 that it would stop flying to the Clark International Airport from Dubai starting May 1, barely a year after launching the route.

In a statement, Emirates, one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, said it was stopping its daily, direct flights between Clark and Dubai.

It said it was having difficulty filling up the flights due to intense competition.

It also complained about the controversial excise tax imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on jet fuel used for international flights.

“The decision was made after a review of the airline’s operations to ensure the best utilization of its aircraft fleet for its overall business objectives,” the airline said.

Emirates however said it would continue to operate out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila to Dubai.

“Emirates will continue to operate its three daily, non-stop flights between Manila and Dubai and is taking all necessary steps to accommodate affected passengers on alternate flights,” it noted.

The airline launched its Clark-Dubai route in October 2013 using Boeing 777 aircraft, with 42 Business Class flatbed seats and 216 Economic Class seats.

At the time, Emirates was bullish about the route as it targeted overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East. There are about 1.5 million OFWs in Saudi Arabia and 680,000 in United Arab Emirates.

Competition, high taxes

Emirates would be the second airline to suspend its Clark flights. Philippines AirAsia, a unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad, ended its operations at the former US military naval base last year.

AirAsia PH suspended domestic and international flights via Clark and transferred them to NAIA after buying into Zest Airways Inc. The acquisition resulted in the establishment of the AirAsia Zest brand. The decision to stop the Clark flights was also a result of intense competition from legacy carrier Philippine Airlines and budget carrier Cebu Pacific, which are flying directly to Dubai.

Victor Jose Luciano, president and CEO of Clark International Airport Corporation, confirmed that Emirates was ending its Clark service. He said the airline cited the excise tax being imposed by BIR on jet fuel for international flights.

The imposition of the tax stemmed from a Supreme Court decision involving oil retailer Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.

Shell was asking for a refund of excise tax paid for jet fuel sold to international carriers, but the SC denied its petition. With the decision, Shell would have to pass on the tax costs to the carriers. –

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