MANILA, Philippines – United Arab Emirates-based carrier Emirates Airlines continues to gain support amid steps to remove its 3rd daily flight between Manila and Dubai after the Philippine aviation regulator says the carrier violated a Presidential order.
Its backers now include a lawmaker, who said that Emirates’ long-haul services help thousands of oversees Filipino workers (OFW) in Dubai visit their home country frequently.
“The third daily flight of Emirates is helping our thousands of OFWs there who want to come home more often to visit relatives, and is promoting trade and tourism between the two countries,” said OFW Family party list representative Roy Señeres Sr. on Friday, December 19.
Señeres was an Ambassador to the UAE from 1994 to 1998 before moving to the Philippine Consulate General in Washington DC as Labor Attache.
An estimated 850,000 OFWs live in Dubai and across other emirates in the UAE, Señeres said in a statement.
Aside from the party list representative, a group of travel agents have rallied behind the foreign carrier. On December 16, the Philippine IATA Agents Travel Association (PIATA) said the CAB decision to remove Emirate’s 3rd daily flights would jack up ticket prices of the long haul route.
Reducing daily Manila-Dubai routes would mean less travel options, creating a high-demand, limited supply situation which could impact ticket prices.
“Emirates’ three daily flights from Manila are very important for tourism,” said Ark Travel president Maria Alberto.
Alberto said the the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) could not afford to lose its current capacity for the Dubai-Manila flights due to the high-value visitors it caters.
“With the Visit Philippines 2015 campaign of the Department of Tourism, we expect a lot of incoming high-end tourists,” said Alberto, whose travel agency is a member of PIATA.
The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) slapped Emirates a P1.8-million ($40,197.73*) fine for selling tickets for the Manila-Dubai route without prior approval from the regulator.
This came after local carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air complained to CAB for allowing Emirates to increase its Dubai-Manila flights despite exceeding its allowable capacity.
But Emirates Airlines stressed it is not seeking additional capacity to Manila. It clarified that its third daily flight which was implemented in January 2013 has long been an integral part of its service “which is extremely popular with travelers.”
Emirates has been operating the Dubai-Manila service since 1990, employing at least 4,300 Filipinos based in either Manila and Dubai, according to the carrier. – Rappler.com