Dec 042014

Rivals turned temporary allies Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have turned up the heat on Dubai’s Emirates, one of the world’s biggest air carriers.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla, in an interview yesterday, said the agency was investigating the domestic ticket selling activities of Emirates after PAL and Cebu Pacific reported that the gulf carrier had no right to do so and that it was selling seats beyond what was allowed under Philippine laws.

The announcement followed the filing in the CAB of petitions for cease and desist orders against Emirates by PAL and Cebu Pacific.

The two local airlines asked the CAB to stop Emirates’ “illegal” use of seven of 21 weekly flights between Manila and Dubai, or an excess one flight per day, documents showed.

PAL and Cebu Pacific argued that Emirates was illegally using those seven weekly flights, coveted because they were valuable slots in the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport, since a codeshare deal between PAL and Emirates was scrapped a few months ago.

Nevertheless, the CAB has given Emirates more time to use the seven weekly flights despite protests from PAL and Cebu Pacific, which also mount direct flights between Manila and Dubai, until it formally decides on the matter.

Because of the scrapped codeshare deal between Emirates and PAL, Emirates should only be left with 14 weekly flights instead of the 21 weekly flights it is using.

PAL and Cebu Pacific said Emirates should have stopped using the seven excess flights on Oct. 26 but the CAB extended the deadline twice for a total of 60 days, the first ended on Nov. 26 while the second would end on Dec. 26.

Moreover, they alleged that Emirates was selling seats for travel until October 2015, or well beyond the Dec. 26, 2014 deadline extension granted.

A check with Emirates’ website showed that it was allowing ticket sales through the end of October next year. The Gulf carrier did not respond to an Inquirer request for comment on its ticket sales practices for next year.

Arcilla said a board meeting has been set on Dec. 11 to discuss and decide on the matter.

He also acknowledged yesterday that it was illegal to sell tickets beyond the period designated by the CAB’s extension.

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