Emirates Cancels Clark Due To Heavy Losses

Ends May 1

23 March 2014

By Daniel Shane

Dubai carrier Emirates Airline is to scrap a daily service to a key air hub in the Philippines just seven months after launching the route.

Emirates will cease its daily flights to Clark International Airport from May 1, a spokesperson confirmed, following a review of its operations.

The service to Clark International, located in the Greater Manila Area, was the only long-haul route to be operated outside of the country’s primary Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the capital.

Following the service’s launch in October last year, Emirates embarked on a highly visible marketing campaign to promote the route to the UAE’s large Filipino community.

“Emirates can confirm that it is suspending its daily, non-stop service between Clark International Airport and Dubai from 1st May 2014. The decision was made after a review of the airline’s operations to ensure the best utilisation of its aircraft fleet for its overall business objectives,” a spokesperson for Emirates told Arabian Business.

“Emirates will continue to operate its three daily, non-stop flights between Manila and Dubai and is taking all necessary steps to accommodate affected passengers on alternate flights,” they added.

Earlier this year, aviation analysts warned that airlines are losing money on the UAE-Philippines route and will soon be forced to cut flights.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said too many carriers had entered the once-lucrative market, with 24 flights per week added in the last quarter of 2014 alone.

Despite huge traffic between the countries – there are about 700,000 Filipinos working in the UAE, the Asian country's fourth largest overseas community – airlines including Dubai's Emirates, Abu Dhabi's Etihad and three Filipino carriers had saturated the market to the point that competition had become too great.

“While there is considerable traffic between the Philippines and UAE, yields are generally low and there are large seasonal fluctuations,” a CAPA report said.

“On a year-round basis the Philippines-UAE is not an easy market to turn a profit on, particularly without any ability to sell flights beyond the UAE.

“But December and January are peak months for the Philippines-UAE market, as Filipinos working overseas typically make their trips back home during the holiday season. February and March will be more challenging months, while April will see another peak for Easter.”

The route became overcrowded during the previous few months, with three Philippine carriers entering the market – low-cost airlines Cebu Pacific and PAL Express and flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

Etihad Airways also serves Abu Dhabi-Manila with two daily flights.

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