Clark, Cebu routes offered to Middle East airlines
Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) - December 11, 2015 - 9:00am

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines- The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) is set to negotiate with Emirates and Etihad airlines to mount more flights from the Middle East to Mactan-Cebu and the Clark international airports.

In a press briefing here, CAD director Jose Victor Luciano said he would meet with officials of Emirates on Dec. 15 to tackle this triangular route from Dubai that would boost the two airports which, he noted, are the country’s only two secondary airports.

Luciano said the CAB, which is under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), has the power to impose airline routes at secondary airports. “Only political will is needed to do this,” he said, amid criticism over the government’s alleged failure to fully transform Clark into the country’s international gateway.

He said he would tackle initially with Emirates the proposal for the triangular flight system.

“Those flying from Dubai can land either in Cebu or Clark but the flights can not pick up domestic passengers in Cebu and fly them to Clark because that would be forbidden,” he said.

Luciano said once such flights are firmed up and implemented by Emirates, Etihad could follow.

“We have a bit of problem with Etihad, however, because of what happened at Clark last October. Etihad has filed a complaint before the CAB and we are set to hear the case,” he said.

Luciano was referring to the rerouting of Etihad Flight EY424 to Clark last October, with 399 passengers on board, arising from congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The passengers were not allowed to deplane, and stayed in the aircraft for over 10 hours. They were allowed to take buses to Manila only the following day.

However, he stressed that the triangular flight scheme would also be proposed to Etihad which has flights to Abu Dhabi.

Luciano noted that both Emirates and Etihad airlines still doubt the financial viability of operating at Clark. “It’s like the cycle of the chicken and the egg. Not enough passengers are at Clark because there aren’t enough airlines, and there is shortage of airlines because there aren’t enough passengers,” he said.

He stressed, however, that Clark airport has enough catchment area for passengers in the four regions north of Metro Manila.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president Emigdio Tanjuatco earlier said most folks in the northern region have yet to be made aware of the existence of international flights at Clark, although the number of international destinations is limited.

“Of course, those from Central Luzon who are flying in from the Middle East would prefer to land directly at Clark instead of stopping over in Cebu, but I suppose this could be remedied by offering them reduced fares,” Luciano said.

ABU DHABI ACIRC CEBU CENTRAL LUZON CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD CLARK CLARK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CORP EMIRATES AND ETIHAD ETIHAD LUCIANO MIDDLE EAST
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