UAE carrier bullish on PH

    Busiest route. Emirates Airlines carries about a million passengers from the Philippines to destinations across its network.
    Busiest route. Emirates Airlines carries about a million passengers from the Philippines to destinations across its network.

    A United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier plans to increase flight frequencies from Manila to Dubai to address growing demand.

    Satish Sethi, Emirates country manager for the Philippines told reporters the airline initially requested for additional three flights per week in Manila where its load factor is at 90 percent leaving “little room for growth and little room for more travelers to choose us.”

    Emirates currently operates 25 flights per week out of the Philippines, of which 18 flights are from Manila and seven are from Cebu and Clark.

    Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific currently fly to Dubai from Manila.

    Emirates is asking the government to reallocate the unused frequencies for UAE.

    “We have recently seen a reduction in capacity from some other airlines into the UAE and that left some room for us to come in. We have requested the Philippine government to consider giving us part of those which were reduced so that it doesn’t really cost additional burden on NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) and it does not really go beyond the entitlements that UAE has from the government,” Sethi added.

    Emirates carried close to a million passengers in 2018, up 15 percent compared in the previous year, making the Philippines the busiest route in the Emirates network. In the last 20 years the airline carried 9 million passengers.

    “Our appetite is very large. The current demand can easily be taken care of by at least two more flights a day. We could be operating five flights a day without any commercial concerns but we do understand it’s not  realistic when it comes to NAIA given how busy the airport is,” he said.

    Emirates also intends to fly a larger aircraft, the Airbus A380, to accommodate more passengers.

    “We have been looking for more seats, more capacity, more flights in the form of either more flights or in the form of an upgraded aircraft,” Sethi said.

    “A380 has been the pillar of our fleet. We have a strong technical team that looks at all the safety standards before we decide where to fly. It’s not impossible but we understand that Manila airport has some concerns on the technical aspects and we are in discussion with the (Philippine government) to see how those can be mitigated,” Sethi said.

    “That also calls for the need for more capacity out of the Philippines. We know there’s a severe bottleneck here. We are trying to negotiate with the Philippine government … to see how we can bring them more tourists into the Philippines and give more options to the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) living not only in Dubai but also across our network.

    When there are more flights there is more connectivity, more trade, more cargo,” Sethi said.

    Two years ago, Emirates asked the Philippine government to conduct a new round of air talks with the UAE government  for additional seat entitlements.

    Air rights entitlements between the two countries have expanded to maximum of 70 flights per week (10 flights per day) between Manila and the prime UAE airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi — 35 flights per week for UAE airlines and 35 for Philippine carriers.