DUBAI-based Emirates Airline is set to fly circle trips from Dubai to Cebu and Clark starting March 30, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the new route would strengthen international connectivity of the Philippines’ two emerging tourist hubs, the airline said.
“With this service, Emirates will enhance the choice for travelers in the Philippines, who will be able to conveniently connect to 39 cities in Europe, 16 in the Middle East as well as a number of destinations across our extensive network in Africa and the Americas, including Panama from February 1,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer.
The circular flights aim to offer travelers from Cebu and Clark convenient and fast connections to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas, via Dubai.
“This service will help to enhance the Philippines’ trade links with the rest of the world and boost incoming tourism to Philippines, supporting the Department of Tourism’s ‘Visit the Philippines Again 2016’ campaign,” Antinori said. “It will also expand travel options for Filipinos based in the Luzon region and Cebu and offer more flexibility for overseas workers departing Philippines or looking for options to fly home.”
Dubaiofw.com, an online community portal for overseas Filipino workers in Dubai, noted that there are currently over 900,000 Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates—most of them live in Dubai, according to a newspaper published in the UAE, The National.
Currently, Emirates fly two times daily from Dubai to Manila. It will be the first time the Middle Eastern airline flies directly to Cebu, the online OFW portal said, describing the development as “great news for Filipinos.”
“Emirates flights to and from the Philippines also cater to the needs of the Filipino market with Filipino-speaking cabin crew on board, and in-flight cuisine options with popular Filipino dishes,” the Emirates said.
“The opening of this service to Cebu and Clark will enable more international tourists to experience many new and exciting attractions that the Philippine islands have to offer.”
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said. “This perfectly complements our ‘Visit the Philippines Again 2016’ campaign, and we look forward to working with Emirates to continue to attract first-time and repeat foreign arrivals to the country.”
The two-class configured Boeing 777-300ER to be used on the route offers 42 seats in Business Class and 386 seats in Economy Class, according to Emirates.
In terms of cargo, up to 14 tons of capacity would be offered in the belly hold on this service, the Emirates said.
Popular Philippine exports on this route are expected to be perishables, such as dairy products, fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood and electronic equipment, the airline noted.
“Emirates flights to Cebu and Clark will depart daily from Dubai as EK338 at 02:55hrs, arriving at Mactan–Cebu International Airport at 15:50hrs,” the Emirates stated. “The service will then depart from Cebu at 17:25hrs and arrive at Clark International Airport at 18:45hrs. The return flight will depart Clark at 20:20hrs, arriving at Dubai International Airport at 01:25hrs the next day.”
Timings of the new service have been scheduled to allow for seamless connections to many European and GCC routes, via a convenient stopover in Dubai, the airline said.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the second busiest airport in the Philippines, with a capacity to handle 4.5 million passengers a year. The local airport’s capacity is seen surging by 13 percent to 12.5 million, once its new terminal opens around June 2018.
In a report released late December, the Center for Aviation (CAPA) noted that the Mactan-Cebu Airport is expected to be a hub for transit traffic while aiding the decongestion of the National Aquino International Airport in Manila.
Meanwhile, Clark International Airport is one of the largest aviation complexes in Asia, with two runways in parallel configuration that can be easily extended to 4kilometers to accommodate new generation wide-bodied aircrafts.
The airport serves the whole province of Pampanga and is in the Clark Freeport Zone, a redevelopment of the former United States Air Force base in the Philippines.
Emirates described Cebu as one of the Philippines’ most developed provinces, which continues to evolve as a key hub for furniture-making, business processing services, and heavy industries.
The international airline noted Cebu and its surrounding islands’ rich tourism offering, including white sandy beaches and picturesque diving spots.
Emirates noted that Central Visayas attracted a total of 1.6 million foreign tourists last year.
Cebu, it added, is also an ideal base for exploring the nearby Chocolate Hills of Bohol province and idyllic islands like Boracay.
Clark, noted Emirates, is a well-known hub for business processing services and tourism. Clark International Airport is based in the Clark Freeport Zone and serves the entire province of Pampanga.