MANILA – Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific are opposing any new air talks with the United Arab Emirates, saying it will only benefit Emirates Airlines.
"We, the Philippine air carriers operating to the Middle East, strongly appeal against the holding of a new round of bilateral air negotiation talks with the UAE in the near future," they said in a joint statement.
"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 Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) by continuing to offer and sell flights without the approval or authorization of the CAB. Defiance of our regulatory authorities should be appropriately penalized rather than handsomely rewarded."
PAL and Cebu Pacific claimed Emirates Airlines is proposing the air talks to allow it to continue operating additional flights, which they said were illegal.
The Philippine carriers had earlier issued a statement, criticizing the Civil Aeronautics Board's decision to give Emirates another 30 days or until December 26 to operate an additional 7 weekly flights on the Dubai-Manila-Dubai routes, after the first 30-day extension had expired.
PAL and Cebu Pacific said Emirates should face penalties and stop selling tickets to be flown beyond December 26 on the third daily flight.
"Emirates has already been granted and unfair and unwarranted frequency advantage, by operating a third daily frequency beyond what is allowed by the UAE-Philippines agreement. An imbalance has been created: Today, UAE airlines operate 5 daily frequencies to and from the Philippines, whereas Philippine carriers only operate 3 daily frequencies between the Philippines and UAE," they said.
In the last 14 months, the airlines said PAL, Cebu Pacific and PAL Express have added 21 new weekly flights to/from the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), a 75 percent increase in the number of authorized Manila-UAE weekly flights.
The airlines noted that given this increase in capacity, there is no need to prioritize air talks with the UAE.
They also said they are capable of immediately mounting direct flights to the UAE.
"If Emirates truly wants to expand its presence in the Philippine market, it has unlimited rights to fly to Cebu, Clark, Davao or any other Philippine cities outside Manila. Emirates should make use of these opportunities before adding flights to the congested Manila airport," they said.
Emirates had earlier defended its additional flights on the Dubai-Manila route.
"Emirates is not seeking any 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 travellers," the airline said.
The Middle Eastern airline had said it was looking forward to the continued operation of its three daily flights from Manila to Dubai.
"Emirates looks forward to its continued operations of three daily services to Manila. We are confident that the positive effect of these services will continue to ensure widespread and sustained benefits to all stakeholders," Emirates said.