MANILA, Philippines - Emirates on Tuesday emphasized the importance of a third daily flight between Manila and Dubai, after it was fined by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).
"We currently operate 3 daily flights between Dubai and Manila, which not only serves the growing demand for travel between both countries, but also connects the Philippines with over 800 flights a week to other key cities in our global network – cities which are currently not served by airlines of the Philippines. Our flights and network enables travellers from the GCC, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, to easily reach the Philippines with just one convenient stop in Dubai," Barry Brown, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations East, said in a statement.
The statement comes after the CAB ordered Emirates to stop selling tickets for the third daily flight beyond December 26. CAB also slapped Emirates with a P1.8 million fine for selling tickets for a third additional Manila-Dubai route without first getting its approval.
For its part, Emirates said that if the third daily flight is cut, the Philippines' business and tourism sectors, as well as overseas Filipino workers, would be badly affected.
It noted the third daily flight was implemented in January 2013 and that it was not asking for new flights.
"Removing one of Emirates’ 3 daily flights ultimately means reduced travel options for Filipinos, not only to Dubai and Middle Eastern destinations, but also to Africa, Europe and Latin America during the peak season month of travel. Thus, creating a high-demand, limited supply situation that could impact ticket prices as well," Marilu Q. Ngo, President of Philippines IATA Agents Travel Association, was quoted by the airline as saying.
More flights needed between Manila and Dubai
Also, Emirates cited strong demand for flights between Dubai and the Philippines, and said this is expected to grow with new developments in the UAE. For instance, the Dubai Expo 2020 is expected to generate 275,000 jobs and offer opportunities for Filipinos in the hospitality, engineering, IT and medical services sectors.
Emirates also noted the growing number of OFWs based in Dubai. There are currently about 850,000 OFWs based in Dubai, and this is seen to jump to over 1 million by 2020.
The airline estimated some 910,000 airline seats a year is needed to serve the consumer demand between Manila and Dubai, equivalent to 41 flights a week on a large aircraft like the Boeing 777. The number does not include travel demand from other sectors such as corporates and international travelers, which would boost projected capacity required to 50 flights a week.
"Emirates' 3 daily flights to Manila are very important in helping make the Philippines more accessible for international tourists. We have excellent tourist attractions, and increased international flight connections mean more international visitors and greater success for Philippine tourism as a whole," Raymund Glen A. Agustin, chief tourism operations officer at the Department of Tourism, said.
"Right now, if you look at the flights that serve the routes between the Middle East and the Philippines, the majority of passengers onboard are OFWs. The very high demand from OFWs means that only a limited number of seats are allocated to leisure tourists. We believe that more seats, additional frequencies and destination points would only benefit Philippine tourism," he added.
Emirates also noted the 3rd daily flight from Manila provides Filipino businesses with connections to 15 key cities in the Gulf and Middle East, and from Dubai, connections to 34 European and 22 African cities.
The UAE is the Philippines’ 3rd largest trading partner in the Middle East.
Emirates, which has been operating flights between Dubai and Manila for the last 24 years, said that its three daily flights from Manila supported over 4,300 jobs in the Philippines last year. The Emirates Group also employs over 4,300 Filipinos across its business.