MANILA, Philippines – It has been more than a month since Emirates Airlines sought Malacañang’s intervention regarding the fate of its third Manila-Dubai flight, but to date, they have not yet heard from the Office of the President.
The Dubai-based airline again asked the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to reconsider its decision rejecting its application to increase the frequency of its flights from the current two to 3 flights daily.
“We encourage CAB to reconsider its decision and to allow the resumption of our third flight as soon as possible for the sake of tourism and the business community,” Emirates Philippine Country Manager Abdalla Al Zamani said in a press conference March 20.
CAB decided to end Emirates’ third daily flight for the Manila-Dubai route.
On December 11, 2014, CAB slapped a P1.8 million ($40,120.76) fine on Emirates for violating Republic Act No. 776 (also known as the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines) since it was selling tickets for a third daily flight for the Manila-Dubai route until October 2015.
Emirates paid the fine and appealed again to CAB, but the board denied the Gulf carrier’s petition to extend its third daily flight, which expired January 26, 2015. Thus, the airline sought the intervention of President Benigno Aquino III on the matter.
Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla earlier said that Emirates should have gone to the Court of Appeals for its petition instead of going to Malacañang – an administrative route for its plea.
National flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and budget airline Cebu Pacific strongly opposed the extension for the 3rd daily flight of Emirates for the Manila-Dubai routes, as well as the holding of the air talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates.
Emirates executives said they are continuously pushing for bilateral talks between the governments of United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.
“We firmly believe that this exceptionally strong and growing route actually requires more, not less flights,” said Barry Brown, Emirates’ divisional senior vice president for commercial operations in the East.
3rd flight’s importance
Zamani stressed that the connectivity between Manila and Dubai should increase.
Zamani said Filipinos in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman are continuously growing in number and they deserve efficient connectivity that Emirates provides.
It is estimated that about 910,000 airline seats are needed annually to serve the consumer demand for the Manila-Dubai route, or an equivalent 41 flights weekly via a large aircraft like Boeing 777.
A total of 50 weekly flights for the route would be needed if the demand from corporate, entrepreneurs, or international travelers is to be considered, Emirates said.
Also, the Dubai 2020 Expo also estimates an increase in overseas Filipinos in Dubai, from 850,000 to 1 million, thus again, the need for a better flight service for them.
The expo is estimated to generate 275,000 jobs – a wealth of opportunities for Filipino professionals in the engineering, Information Technology, hospitality, and medical services industries.
The third flight is also needed since Emirates is supporting the country’s “Visit the Philippines 2015” campaign. To jumpstart the airline’s initiative, they flew in about 10 journalists from UAE who stayed in the Philippines for a week this month and visited Boracay, Cebu, and Palawan.
From Dubai, the third flight also connected with Emirates’ 34 European and 22 African cities, bringing in valuable inbound traffic to the Philippines, the airline said.
“We would love to bring more tourists here to experience the beautiful Philippines for themselves,” Zamani said.
While the fate of the 3rd flight remains unknown, Emirates stressed that it will continue to invest in the country. Emirates started its Manila operations on June 17, 1990.
In 2013 alone, it invested nearly $100 million through direct expenditures in the Philippines.
In February 2015, the Skyview Lounge ran by dnata opened. A member of the Emirates group, dnata’s lounge is open 24/7 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 3 to serve the airline’s passengers, as well as bank premium cardholders. In September 2014, dnata opened its contact center facility in Clark.
Emirates’ 3 daily flights also supported over 4,300 jobs in the country through direct employment, including catering, ground handling, and other associated services.
For 2015, Emirates is eyeing to hire additional 11,000 talents to beef up its workforce. – Rappler.com
U$1 = P44.86
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