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Local airlines oppose new air talks with UAE

MANILA, Philippines - Local carriers are strongly opposing the planned air talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) scheduled early next year as Middle Eastern airlines continued to dominate the Manila and UAE routes.

In a joint statement, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. and Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) said an imbalance has been created as Gulf carriers operate five daily flights between Manila and UAE as against the three daily flights of Philippine carriers.

PAL and Cebu Pacific added that holding new bilateral air negotiations with UAE by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) would favor Emirates that currently flies three times a day to UAE.

 “Negotiating any new agreement with the UAE at this time would only serve to reward Emirates, the UAE’s biggest airline, for having blatantly disregarded the authority of the CAB,” the airlines said. 

The airlines have asked CAB to stop Emirates from selling tickets to be flown beyond Dec. 26 this year.

 “Emirates has already been granted and unfair and unwarranted frequency advantage, by operating a third daily frequency beyond what is allowed by the UAE-Philippines agreement,” they added.

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The Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) concluded air talks with UAE last September 2012. The new air pact doubled the flight entitlements to 28 per week from 14 per week between the two countries.

Emirates and Etihad Airways have 14 flight entitlements per week while PAL has 14, PAL Express has seven, and Cebu Pacific has seven.

The airlines accused Emirates of influencing the Philippine Air Panel to hold air talks with the UAE in order to regularize its alleged illegal operations.

 “It is unfair for the Philippine government to capitulate to a foreign carrier when in fact the UAE authorities never prioritized the Philippine carriers when the Dubai International Airport was closed for repairs, with both PAL and Cebu Pacific being thrown to farther airports while Emirates kept on operating in their home base

PAL and Cebu Pacific argued that even airlines from the US and Europe have opposed expansion of Middle Eastern carriers that are government-backed and subsidized.

They added that even Japan that has been fairly liberal in opening its skies, has limited the expansion of entitlements with Middle Eastern carriers.

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