LOW-COST carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) and Philippine Airlines (PAL) said they welcome healthy competition that benefits the travelling public, but this should not mean allowing foreign carriers like Dubai-based Emirates Airline to disregard Philippine laws.
The local carriers are opposing Emirates’ third unauthorized daily flight between Manila and Dubai, saying that Emirates is selling tickets for this flight without any government approval.
PAL and CEB said that Emirates and all other foreign carriers should not be allowed to disregard Philippine laws and regulations to the detriment of Philippine carriers and in defiance of national interest and a fair and stable competitive environment.
Emirates is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates along with Etihad Airways.
In a joint statement, PAL and CEB said, “As the guardian of national interest, the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has shown courage and principle in its decision last week to shut down the illegal sales and penalize Emirates accordingly.”
They added: “We respectfully ask the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board and the Philippine Air Consultations Panel to refrain from holding any bilateral talks with the UAE and giving any kind of legitimacy to an anomalous and unjustified operation.”
CEB and PAL said “Emirates Airlines has asked the CAB for another extension of its 30-day authority to fly a third daily flight between Manila and Dubai, citing so-called national interest. This means Emirates wants to be able to fly up to January 26, 2015.”
This request is a direct insult to CAB and the Filipino people since it is in effect asking for authority to legitimize its sales practice that was shut down and for which it was fined P1.8 million by CAB last week precisely because it was illegal,” CEB and PAL added.
On top of this requested extension, Emirates has also asked the Philippine Government to conduct air talks next month with the United Arab Emirates, ostensibly for the two countries to agree on more flights per day, which again is another camouflage to legitimize its third daily flight, the two local carriers said.
Under the existing air agreement between the two countries, Emirates can fly only two daily flights. It is flying three daily flights and it is this third unauthorized flight that it was selling tickets for without any government approval, CEB and PAL noted.
‘Important for tourism’
For its part, Emirates said it is “not seeking any additional flights to Manila over and above its current operations.”
It said that its third daily flight on the Dubai-Manila route “was implemented in January 2013 and has since become an integral part of the service which is extremely popular with travellers. Emirates has operated flights between Dubai and Manila since 1990, and remains firmly committed to the Philippine market.”
It said that industry players “representing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and tourism interests have spoken in support of Emirates’ three daily flight operations to the Philippines.”
Commenting on the issue, former ambassador and Rep. Roy Señeres, party-list congressman representing OFWs, said: “There are at present an estimated 850,000 OFWs in Dubai and across other emirates in the UAE. 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.”