Let the Wars Begin

July 16, 2013

Cebu Pacific and PAL Express have begun undercutting current PAL code-share partner, full-service Middle East carrier Emirates, in the Manila-Dubai route, with the two local budget carriers slashing round-trip fares by half when a three-way fight over the busy corridor starts in November.

The Cebu Pacific website over the weekend was quoting a P24,574.61 round-trip, week-long fare with a Nov. 1 departure, as against PAL Express' inaugural P27,729 week-long fare.

Emirates, currently the lone player, apparently has not adjusted to the forthcoming competition for the mainly overseas Filipino contract-worker market, and was still quoting a $1,289.20 (P56,174.31 by Emirates' calculation) for the same route.

Cebu Pacific's pricing, incidentally, does not include costs of checked-in luggage and on-board meals.
Cebu Pacific charges P500 for each hot meal (a choice of beef caldereta, bistek Tagalog, chicken adobo and chicken barbeque), with a two-meal service expected for the nine-hour flight. Drinks, including water, likewise cost extra.

The Cebu Pacific website also lists a P1,500 charge for every checked-in baggage of not more than 15 kilos.

Despite being a budget carrier, PAL Express on the other hand said it was throwing in a 10-kilo free luggage allowance and "1.5 meals" (apparently, one meal and one snack) for every passenger not only for the Dubai route but also for other forthcoming Middle East flights.

PAL, and not PAL Express, will also start flying to Abu Dhabi on October 1, a month earlier than Dubai.
The flag carrier has also slashed by half the economy fare being charged by Etihad, despite the latter being its current code-share partner for the route.

PAL is quoting a $322.60 fare for Abu Dhabi for October 1, and another $322.60 for Manila on the October 8 return leg. Etihad, on the other hand, quotes $637.60 for each leg, but with fuel, airport and travel taxes already factored in the fare.

Besides Dubai and Abu Dhabi, PAL has also announced it would resume flying to Saudi Arabian cities Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh starting December 1.

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