Give us MNL and We Will Fly Davao!
3 May 2017
Air Bilateral talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has failed according to Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla.
The two-day talks between the Philippines and the UAE was held in Davao City on April 26 and 27 with the aim of expanding the air service entitlements between the two countries from the existing 70 flights per week.
Arcilla said the talks ended in deadlock after the UAE asked for seven (7) more landing slots in Manila without elaborating further.
“Our talks included the commitment of Emirates to operate out of Davao and additional flights to Manila, but the details could not be resolved as of yet,” Arcilla said.
CAB said UAE wanted to mount more flights out of Manila for a total of 42 flights a week to the objections of local carriers Philippine Airlines(PAL), Cebu Pacific(CEB) and Air Philippines(GAP).
The local carriers argued that there are still plenty of entitlements to the Philippines, other than Manila, that has not been taken by the UAE carriers since the latest air talks. In the agreement UAE airlines are required to invest in developmental gateways outside Manila.
Local airlines further argued during the meeting that giving in to the UAE request for more Manila flights would lessen the incentive for Emirates to continue flying to Clark and Cebu, or its contemplated new service to Davao.
Emirates on the other hand committed to launch Davao flights on a triangular service to Cebu in exchange for more entitlements out of Manila airport which the Philippine panel is not prepared to give on account of so many unused slots in the Philippines, among them Angeles, Cebu, Davao.
Arcilla said the Philippine panel would have wanted Emirates to used first the slots for Clark, Cebu and particularly Davao since its not being served yet, but the UAE group wanted Manila given first before committing to fly Davao.
“There are things they want, but it’s hard for us to give, there are things that we want, but its hard for them to give. Like, we want Davao for them to operate, they want Manila, so we negotiated along those lines, but we can’t iron out the differing positions,” says Arcilla.
ASA to the UAE has recently been expanded in 2015 granting UAE airlines 35 flights a week to Manila and 35 flights to the rest of the Philippines, from the old 28 flights a week ASA negotiated in 2012.
Emirates Airlines and Etihad has existing and unused landing rights to Clark (14x), Cebu(14x), Davao(7x). So far Only Emirates served Dubai-Cebu-Clark-Dubai triangular routes on daily flight, equivalent to single frequency. It has also stopped flying out of Angeles City in 2014 leaving 34 landing slots not utilized.
Emirates flies 18 weekly flights from Dubai to Manila, while Etihad flies 17 times weekly from Abu Dhabi to Manila, a total of 35 flights weekly. Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has 14 slots to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while Cebu Pacific(CEB) and Air Philippines(GAP) has daily frequencies to Dubai with a total used slot of 28 frequencies.
PAL and CEB earlier manifested no objections from UAE carriers to launch flights to Davao in a white paper released last week saying Clark, Cebu and Davao are still under serve markets.