Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) president Atty. Emigdio Tanjuatco III is backing flag carrier Philippine Airlines and budget carrier Cebu Pacific in opposing air talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, especially giving additional seat entitlements to Emirates Airlines.
Tanjuatco, who is also CIAC chief executive officer, said in a statement that “CIAC fully supports the position of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific opposing the granting of additional seat entitlements to Emirates in Manila and that the air talks should no longer be held,” as the grant will be “detrimental to the country’s aviation industry.”
PAL and Cebu Pacific both criticized the Philippines’ planned air talks with UAE scheduled for the end of August, saying giving additional capacities to UAE will only hurt local airlines.
And should the air talks still proceed, Tanjuatco said “the Philippine Air Panel should appeal to UAE carriers to consider putting up flights in airports outside Metro Manila, particularly at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.”
“We are happy that both PAL and Cebu Pacific have that position. Hopefully, the RP air panel will take into consideration the position of the local carriers,” Tanjuatco added.
The Philippine air panel was scheduled to hold air talks with its UAE counterpart on August 27 and 28 and touch on the Emirates’ request to increase its entitlements to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
In a joint statement on August 25, PAL and Cebu Pacific urged the Philippine government to “resist any and all pressure to grant unfair advantage to the airlines of the UAE in the form of unjustified and unnecessary disruptive additional rights to serve Manila.”
The two Philippine carriers “challenged UAE and other Middle Eastern airlines to put up direct flights to emerging new gateways in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.”
Emirates Airlines previously operated daily flights from the Clark airport to Dubai until it pulled out in 2013, which contributed to the decrease in passenger numbers at the international airport in Pampanga, CIAC said.
Air Asia Philippines also pulled out from Clark in the same year.
Gilda Padua, president of the Greater Clark Visitors Bureau (GCVB), likewise expressed the group’s support for the position of PAL and Cebu Pacific, adding that the Emirates should consider airports outside Metro Manila to decongest NAIA.
“Emirates should fly out of other airports, especially at the Clark airport in Pampanga,” Padua stressed.
She pointed out that Clark facilities are ready to cater to the needs of Middle East carriers and that Emirates should consider going back to Clark.
Padua said the GCVB supports the development of Clark airport and leveraging on the hub’s advantage over other airports in the country.
At the same time, Department of Tourism-Central Luzon director Ronaldo Tiotuico said the agency supports the efforts of CIAC, PAL, and Cebu Pacific to harness the full potential of Clark by encouraging more airlines to fly out of the Northern and Central Luzon air hub.