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Dubai Filipinos rejoice as Cebu Pacific arrives with cheap deals

By Bindu Suresh Rai

Dubai-based Filipinos have let out a cheer as budget carrier, Cebu Pacific, announced direct flights between the emirate and the Philippines capital, Manila from October 7.

The daily flights will take off as the only Filipino carrier to fly direct to Dubai, providing a welcome relief to the country’s large community that resides in the UAE.

In a press statement, Alex Reyes Cebu Pacific General Manager, Long Haul Division, said: “CEB is proud to be the only Filipino carrier to fly direct to Dubai. We are glad to be of service to over 700,000 Global Filipinos who are in UAE.

 “Now, our kababayans in Dubai can enjoy fares that are up to 40 per cent lower than current offerings and fly direct to Manila, a mere nine hours away from their loved ones.”

Flights to the Philippines have been the domain of many Gulf carriers, with Emirates being the only direct flight to Manila from Dubai.

During peak months such as Christmas and New Years, flights to the country can range between Dh5,000-Dh7,000 in economy class, with other favourites being Singapore Airlines and Gulf Air.

Said Reyes: “Dubai is the largest long-haul market to and from the Philippines. IATA PaxIS data indicate more than 70 per cent of passengers in this route take multiple stops, and connecting flights because no home carrier offers a non-stop service.

 “With CEB’s direct service to Dubai, Filipinos overseas can look forward to going home more often. Their relatives and friends can also visit them in Dubai more often.”

Emirates 24|7 checked flights on-board Cebu Pacific for the Christmas period in 2013 and they were currently retailing at approximately Dh2,000, inclusive of taxes, minus luggage.

Nerry Toledo, a Public Relations consultant in Dubai, said: “Travelling to the Philippines has never been easy. Flights are insanely expensive and those with stopovers can sometimes extend to nearly 24 hours of travel time to get to Manila.”

Toledo further added that during peak season, she has been forced to fork over Dh4,000 on occasion, while fares have hit Dh7,000 at times.

“Due to the large expat population in the UAE, fares are always very high.

 “It is a welcome relief to know that Cebu Pacific is launching here just in time for this year’s Christmas holidays. I for one wouldn’t hesitate in flying with the carrier,” she added.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows that UAE ranks second to Saudi Arabia in terms of number of land-based new hires and rehires.

In 2010, there were 201,214 land-based workers deployed to UAE.

Grace Lin, who works in a beauty salon in Dubai, said: “Our salon alone has four outlets in the emirate, with nearly 25 employees from the Philippines alone.

“We are forced to book flights sometimes a year in advance because we know we will not be able to afford the fares later. Which means, if there is some last minute travel plans, either we pay our monthly salary or choose not to fly at all.”

The all-economy Dubai-Manila flights are scheduled to depart at 11.10pm, making it the budget airline’s first long haul destination.