Davao could soon be better connected to the international flight network with plans to launch regular flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Discussions between the Philippines and United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be held tomorrow (Wednesday, April 26) and Thursday at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.
If approved, the deal would pave the way for Emirates Airlines to serve Davao from Dubai, and Etihad Airways to from Abu Dhabi. These major hubs together open the doors to 360 destinations worldwide.
The services would be the first routes from Mindanao to destinations outside Southeast Asia.
At present, Emirates flies 18 flights a week from Dubai to Manila, while Etihad sends 17.
Gatchi Gatchalian, president of Davao Tourism Association, said: “At a time when the Philippines is labouring under a public relations cloud, following the issuance of travel advisories by certain countries warning of security concerns for travel to certain parts of the central and southern Philippines, a positive announcement of new UAE-Davao services would give the country a much-needed image-enhancing boost.
“It would give travel industry stakeholders a platform on which to build up new promotional campaigns to attract tourists from the Middle East and environs.”
Both Etihad and Emirates have also request additional flights to Manila. However, Ms Gatchalian said this would “only exacerbate the desperately congested situation” at the NAIA.
“It is already severely congested, as the airport authority now caps airlines to a maximum of 40 take-offs or landings every hour.
“Local airlines have been required to reduce some of their domestic routes since late 2016. It would be inconsistent and discriminatory for the government to now take a different approach and allow UAE airlines to expand to Manila.
“Congestion will be worsened, not just in terms of runway movements but also more passengers coursing through NAIA’s overburdened terminals.
“Every single additional flight to Manila means that you have one less flight that could have been routed to Davao instead.
“This is a strategic opportunity for the government to seize: If airlines like Emirates and Etihad are so bent on putting up more flights to the Philippines and are claiming to offer contributions in the form of increased tourism, trade and overseas worker servicing, then the country should direct them to put these resources and investments where they can truly count and bear fruit – by flying to Davao instead.”