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PAL nixes more flight entitlements to UAE carriers

PAL president Jaime Bautista said the airline is hopeful the government would promote fair competition and support local airlines during the air talks between the Philippines and the UAE on Aug. 27 to 28. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is urging the government to refrain from granting additional flight entitlements to United Arab Emirates (UAE) airlines during the air talks to be held next week.

In a statement yesterday, PAL president Jaime Bautista said the airline is hopeful the government would promote fair competition and support local airlines during the air talks between the Philippines and the UAE on Aug. 27 to 28.

“We call on the Philippine panel to the PHL-UAE air talks to refrain from giving Mid-East carriers undue advantage by granting more capacity and frequency beyond what the market requires,” he said.

He said the grant of additional capacity to Middle East airlines that get government subsidies would further hurt the local carriers.

Middle East carriers have been lobbying for more flights into the Philippines to be able to carry passengers to destinations beyond the country.

In its call to the Philippine air panel, PAL also cited developments in the US where Middle East carriers are being investigated for unfair competition.

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The US government is looking into allegations of unfair practices of carriers from the UAE and Qatar that are are receiving subsidies amounting to as much as $42 billion from their respective governments.

Amid claims of abuses being committed by UAE and Qatar’s airlines, US carriers United, Delta and American Airlines have formed the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies coalition to call on Washington to enforce the open skies agreement.

The coalition has asked the US government to put a temporary block on new US-bound services by Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways.

The last air talks between the Philippines and UAE were held in September 2012.

During the last air talks, the two countries agreed to double the flight entitlements to 28 per week from 14 per week.

Emirates and Etihad Airways have 14 flight entitlements per week.

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

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