MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are protesting the decision of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) allowing Emirates Airlines to continue flying Dubai-Manila-Dubai routes in excess of its maximum entitlement.
"We believe that the grant of these unwarranted extra flights to Middle Eastern carriers distorts competition and undermines the investments of Philippine air carriers in building a truly competitive air route to the UAE," the two airlines said in a joint statement.
PAL and Cebu Pacific cited Section 3 of Executive Order No. 29 stating “the CAB may grant any foreign air carriers increases in frequencies and/or capacities in the country’s airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, subject to the conditions required by existing laws, rules and regulations.”
The EO, issued by President Aquino, states that "all grants of frequencies and/or capacities which shall be subject to the approval of the President shall operate as a waiver by the Philippines of the restrictions on frequencies and capacities under the relevant air service agreement."
However, PAL and Cebu Pacific noted that Philippine airlines are capable of mounting direct flights to the United Arab Emirates.
"Indeed we are operating these flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi today. We look to the CAB to work with the Philippine air carriers in growing the Philippine aviation industry and to allow us to compete with foreign carriers in a level playing field," they said.
CAB had earlier given Emirates another 30 days or until December 26 to operate 7 weekly flights on the Dubai-Manila-Dubai routes, after the first 30-day extension had expired last November 26.
PAL and Cebu Pacific claimed Emirates' request for extra flights is unwarranted because EO 29 allows foreign carriers to operate unlimited flights to Clark, Cebu and other airports in the Philippines.
"If Emirates truly wants to expand its service into the Philippines, it has every opportunity to put up new flights to Clark, Cebu or other Philippine international airports outside of Manila," they said.
They also noted that UAE airlines should not be allowed to operate more than 28 frequencies which is the same number allowed for Philippine carriers.
"Emirates should not be allowed to make a mockery of Philippine regulations. As good citizens of the aviation world, Philippine carriers play by the rules. We adhere to the limits set by bilateral aviation agreements," the airlines said.
The Philippine aviation industry, they said, will suffer from the CAB's decision to give another 30-day extension to Emirates.
"So, far the CAB has granted a total of 60 days in favor of Emirates or until December 26.The Philippine carriers believe that the issuance of the extended grant to operate additional seven flights only worsens the current injurious situation," the airlines said.
PAL and Cebu Pacific also accused Emirates of allegedly selling tickets for the Dubai-Manila-Dubai routes until October 2015, even without CAB approval.
"This constitutes blatant disregard of the CAB’s authority, and thus the Philippine carriers respectfully appeal to the CAB to take the immediate and necessary action to cause this foreign carrier to cease and desist its defiance of the Philippine Government, in the interest of fair competition and the growth of the Philippine aviation industry," they said.
PAL and Cebu Pacific said they are not asking for special favors, "just a level playing field."
"If the benefits of air services liberalization are granted in favor of foreign carriers, then we are discriminated against in our own country," they said.
Emirates has yet to issue a statement.