Abu Dhabi: Filipino expats can fly with ease from the UAE to the Philippines — and at potentially cheaper rates — when Philippine Airlines (PAL) resumes flights to Abu Dhabi from October 1 and Dubai from November 1 through low-cost affiliate PAL Express, XPRESS can reveal.
The move follows San Miguel Corp’s takeover of the airline’s parent, PAL Holdings, and the “open skies” policy embraced by the current Manila government.
“We will start Manila-Dubai flights from November 1 in time for the high season,” said a senior PAL official who asked not to be named. PAL advertised the flight in Gulf News, but did not make a formal announcement. PAL, which ordered $7 billion (Dh25.71 billion) worth of Airbus aircraft last year, will begin Abu Dhabi-Manila flights from October 1.
Lack of capacity on the Dubai-Manila route hurt millions of overseas Filipino workers and stunted tourism, but the situation is set to change soon.
“The playing field is now level for all players involved, and we hope to see better service and more competitive rates,” said Frank Cimafranca, the Consul General in Dubai.
While the Philippines had always been well connected with the rest of Asia, it lacks sufficient links to Europe, a tourism official said.
“This is a dream come true for those promoting the Philippines to the world as a tourist destination,” said Mohammad Ebrahim Al Masri, head of Dubai-based tourism consultancy Bizgate Services.
“The tourist traffic from Europe and the rest of the world passing through the UAE is huge. The Philippines will now be a good option for them. The more direct flights, the better for tourists and Pinoys (Filipinos) abroad,” said the official.
There are an estimated 600,000 Filipinos working in the UAE. The Filipino diaspora is estimated at 10 million, including over 1 million in Saudi Arabia.
PAL Express’s Dubai launch caps a flurry of announcements this year by UAE and Philippine flag-carriers following the opening up of Manila’s aviation sector, which will see a doubling of seats between the two countries.
Emirates will launch daily flights between Dubai and Clark International Airport, one hour north of Manila, from October 1.
This brings to 35 the number of weekly flights operated by Etihad and Emirates between the Philippines and the UAE.
Manila-based Cebu Pacific also plans to offer a daily Dubai-Manila flight from October 7.