Stock - Manila Airport
Manila Airport is back to busier times, and flights from the UAE are certainly doing their part well. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Flights between UAE and Philippines are now back to full frequency, resulting in a significant increase in demand – and air fares. Current rates indicate a 20-30 per cent spike over January and February ticket prices.

A flight from Dubai to Manila can cost up to Dh2,800, while on certain days these can cost over Dh4,000. Abu Dhabi-Manila flights comes to Dh3,000, with some airlines charging close to Dh5,000.

“This route is in huge demand because people had postponed their trips due to travel restrictions,” said a Dubai-based booking agent. “The fares are still on the higher side – a one-way ticket right now costs about the same as a round-trip during pre-Covid times.“ any Filipinos have already begun flying to UAE in search of better jobs and economic opportunities.”

Until now, due to certain regulatory restrictions, commercial flights were yet to resume in full and the ones listed by airlines often came up against last-minute cancellations or reschedules. Philippine Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, has also restarted daily flights to Dubai.

Not everyone is charging sky-high fares. Cebu Pacific, which resumed daily Dubai-Manila flights on March 8, was offering a discounted fare of Dh429. For Dh557 and over, travellers could also fly from Dubai to Boracay, Puerto Princesa, Dumaguete, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos or Tacloban - all via Manila.

“This marks an opportune time, especially for UAE residents as Ramadan and Eid 2022 will likely fall from April 2 and May 2 respectively, giving them extra time to plan ahead and book their vacation,” said the airline in a statement.

It’s not just international routes that are showing signs of recovery. Earlier this month, AirAsia Philippines, a domestic low-cost carrier, said it sold close to 146,000 seats for travels from March 1 to 31, 2022 alone. This is an increase of 131 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

“AirAsia Philippines attributes this significant increase to revenge traveling with relaxed travel protocols being implemented in most of its destinations,” said Steve Dailisan, a spokesperson for AirAsia Philippines. “We are looking forward to sustaining full capacity in time for the various festivities in the different provinces we fly to.”

Last to recover

The aviation sector in Asia-Pacific has been the last to jump into action as the region kept tight border controls in place for most of the pandemic. Hong Kong has some of the strictest travel rules in place and this forced its flag carrier – Cathay Pacific – to operate only a fraction of its pre-Covid capacity.

“While international travel remains far from normal in many parts of the world, there is momentum in the right direction,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General, in a statement last month. “We hope others will follow their important lead, particularly in Asia where several key markets remain in virtual isolation.”

Updated travel rules for the Philippines
All foreign nationals flying into the country must be vaccinated and must present proof of full vaccination. Travellers are considered fully vaccinated for COVID 19 under the following conditions:

• Received the second dose in a 2-dose series or a single dose vaccine more than 14 days prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin/port of embarkation
• The vaccine administered was included in any of the following: Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) List, Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration or Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization
• Passengers must present any of the following proof of vaccination at check in and upon arrival:
• World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis;
• VaxCertPH (the official designation of the Philippines' vaccine certificate issued by the Department of Health);
• National or state digital certificate of the country/foreign government which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement; and
• Other proofs of vaccination permitted by the IATF.

The exceptions to vaccination requirements are limited to the following groups:
• Children below 12 years;
• Passengers medically unable to receive the vaccine, as certified by a competent public health authority in the country/port of origin; and
• Foreign diplomats and their qualified dependents or 9(e) visa holder.