Revealed: The Cheapest Way to fly to Manila

As the weather moves towards cooler temperatures, we start thinking about our next big getaway, i.e. the Christmas break. The holidays are just a couple of months away and it’s never too early to see what’s on offer.

Some of the most unlikely routes may land you the best deals you can get your hands on this holiday season. The only thing you have to be armed with when booking these tickets is time:

(All prices and researched from the last Friday before Christmas, Dec 18, 2014, to the first Sunday after the New Year, Jan 4, 2015.)

Malaysia Airlines $640 (AED2,343) Malaysia Airlines provides a round trip from Dubai to Manila via Kuala Lumpur. It takes off at 8:15pm and arrives at Manila at 20 past noon the next day with stop duration of 1 hour and 5 minutes.

China Southern Airlines $672 (AED2,459) From Dubai International airport, the flight takes off at 1:40am and arrives in Manila at 4:35pm. Total flight duration is 10 hours and 55 minutes with one stop in Guangzhou, China.
Philippines Airlines $929 (AED3,403) The cheapest direct flight on offer with a quick trip of 9 hours and 10 minutes.

China Eastern Air $968 (AED3,545) Like other flights, there is only a single stop with China Eastern. But your stay in Shanghai is a long 14 hour 25 minute layover. This brings the total trip time to a whopping 26 hours and 55 minutes

Emirates $990 (AED3,633) Another direct flight with surprisingly very affordable options. You do pay an extra $20 over China Eastern, but you get there in only 8 hours flat on the red eye.

Cebu Pacific $995 (AED3,641) The Ninoy Aquino based airline is always a sure way to get around on a budget. This round trip takes off at 11:10 pm and arrives the next day at 11:40 am, but if this is your preferred airways, we suggest you wait since it is known for pulling last minute deals during high seasons.

Air China $1,130 (AED4,139) With a 7 hour stop in Beijing, this overnight flight takes off at 12:50pm and arrives in Manila at 1am the next day. The 19 hour 40 minute experience is too exhausting for the savings on offer.

Korean Air $1,133 (AED4,148) The 14 hour flight has an almost 3 hour stop in Seoul and an additional baggage fee to take into account of $130. But for $4,148, it is is one of the cheapest ways to get to Manila and beats the tickets of offer by Qatar, Thai and Etihad Airways.

Source: Salma Awwad,



World Airline Awards 2014: World’s Top 10 Airlines

World's best airlines for 2014
World’s best airlines for 2014

World’s Top 10 Airlines 

1. Cathay Pacific Airways

2. Qatar Airways

3. Singapore Airlines

4. Emirates

5. Turkish Airlines

6. ANA All Nippon Airways

7. Garuda Indonesia

8. Asiana Airlines

9. Etihad Airways

10. Lufthansa


Best Inflight Entertainment

1. Emirates

2. Singapore Airlines

3. Turkish Airlines

4. Qantas

5. Cathay Pacific Airways

6. Virgin Atlantic

7. Qatar Airways

8. Air New Zealand

9. Virgin Australia

10. Etihad Airways


Best Cabin Crew

1. Garuda Indonesia

2. Cathay Pacific

3. Singapore Airlines

4. Asiana Airlines

5. Malaysia Airlines

6. Qatar Airways

7. EVA Air

8. ANA All Nippon Airways

9. Thai Airways

10. Hainan Airlines


Best Low Cost Carrier

1. AirAsia

2. Jetstar Airways

3. Virgin America

4. AirAsia X

5. Indigo

6. Norwegian

7. Jetstar Asia

8. easyJet

9. WestJet

10. Azul Airlines


CAPA: Philippine Airlines Seeks A Strategic Investor As International Expansion Continues


ANA: Not Planning To Invest In PAL

Attracting an investor from the airline sector has so far proven challenging. All Nippon Airways (ANA) emerged as a potential suitor in 2013 as part of the Japanese carrier’s initiative to invest in foreign airlines with focus on Southeast Asian market.

But ANA has since ruled out an investment in PAL. ANA also has decided not to complete a planned investment in small Myanmar carrier Asian Wings, which when announced in Aug-2013 was seen as a toe in the water with the idea it would be followed by larger investments in Southeast Asian airline sector.

ANA’s rival Japan Airlines also has been ruled out as a potential investor in PAL. Japan was a logical place for PAL to turn as Japan is PAL’s largest market accounting for about 22% of the carrier’s international seat capacity.

PAL currently operates 63 weekly flights to five Japanese destinations (FukuokaNagoya, Osaka, Tokyo-Haneda and Tokyo-Narita), according to OAG data. But synergies with Japanese carriers are relatively limited. ANA and JAL are strong competitors in the Philippines-US market.

PAL is now planning to expand its US operation, which is made possible by Philippine authorities securing a Category 1 rating from the US FAA earlier this year. As PAL expands in North America it will try to woo away passengers that have been flying via North Asian hubs including Tokyo, Hong KongSeoul and Taipei, thus increasing the competitive posture towards airlines from those countries.

Japan is an important and growing source market for the Philippines tourism sector. But Philippines-Japan is primarily a leisure point to point market and seemingly is not of sufficient importance to Japanese carriers to justify an investment. There are also limited opportunities to offer Japanese passengers connections beyond Manila.

Securing Investment from Korean Carriers Would Be Challenging

South Korea is also an important and growing source market for Philippine tourism sector. South Korea is PAL’s second largest market based on current seat capacity and is served with 46 weekly flights across five routes (Seoul to Cebu, Kalibo and Manila and Busan to Kalibo and Manila).

Korean Air and Asiana each have large presences in Philippine market, supported by strong inbound demand from Korea as well as sixth freedom traffic, particularly to North America.

Asiana is the second largest foreign carrier in Philippine market based on seat capacity and currently has 39 weekly flights to the Philippines while KAL is the fourth largest and has 23 weekly flights. It is similarly hard to build a business case for a Korean carrier to invest in PAL.

As is the case with Japanese carriers, potential opportunities for Korean carriers to use Manila as a transit hub for other regions of Asia are limited. San Miguel has talked up building Manila into a transit hub. PAL is generally not well positioned for this type of traffic and will need to compromise yields to attract passengers in markets such as Australia-London and Singapore-North America.

And potential North Asian partners would be impacted if PAL were to pursue this type of traffic aggressively. While an investment seems unlikely PAL could still use partners in Korea and Japan. A Korean and/or Japanese partner would help with local point of sales and connections to secondary cities in Japan.

A Japanese or Korean carrier could also potentially help provide offline coverage to smaller North American markets which PAL does not intend to cover on its own.

Cathay Pacific Codeshare Or Relationship With A Chinese Carrier Is Unlikely

Currently PAL has codeshare with only two North Asians carriers, Air Macau and Cathay Pacific. But both partnerships are limited. The Air Macau codeshare is limited to the MNL-Macau route, which is currently served only by PAL (as well as Cebu Pacific).

The Cathay codeshare is limited to the CEB-HKG route, which is only served by Cathay (as well as Cebu Pacific). The Cathay partnership excludes the much larger and more competitive MNL-HKG route or any destinations beyond Hongkong.

The Cathay-PAL partnership is unlikely to be extended as Cathay competes with PAL in several key PAL markets including Philippines-North America, Philippines-Middle East and Philippines-North Asia. Cathay is now the largest foreign carrier in the Philippines with 43 weekly flights and 12,000 one-way seats.

Cathay regional subsidiary Dragonair also operates nine weekly flights to the Philippines, giving the Cathay group about 25,000 weekly seats and over 5% of capacity in Philippine international market. A partnership with a mainland Chinese carrier would be more appealing as PAL only now serves four destinations in mainland China with a combined 22 weekly return flights.

But a strong partnership or investment from a Chinese carrier may be made less likely in view of the tense state of relations between China and the Philippines. A partnership with a Taiwanese carrier would be more conceivable but again would likely be relatively limited.

Taiwan is a much smaller local market for the Philippines than Hong Kong, Korea or Japan. PAL has only 11 weekly frequencies to Taiwan while China Airlines and EVA Air serve the Philippines with 20 weekly flights and seven weekly flights respectively. The close proximity of Taipei and Manila mean the two hubs compete for traffic and are not synergistic.

Singapore Airlines: Not A Likely Suitor for PAL

PAL’s codeshare partnerships in Southeast Asia are also relatively limited. Currently PAL has codeshares with Garuda IndonesiaMalaysia Airlines (MAS) and Vietnam Airlines.

Garuda and Vietnam Airlines currently do not serve Manila although Garuda is planning to enter the Jakarta-Manila route by the end of 2014.

The MAS codeshare initially provided PAL with offline access to Kuala Lumpur and has been maintained since PAL resumed services to Kuala Lumpur in early 2013. None of these airlines are in position to invest in PAL or any other foreign carrier.

A partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA) would be more intriguing as Singapore is by far the largest Southeast Asian market from the Philippines. There are currently over 60,000 weekly seats between Singapore and the Philippines, making it the Philippines largest market after South Korea. But there would be limited synergies for SIA.

PAL is not believed to be on SIA’s list of potential acquisition targets.

PAL Forges A New Partnership With Etihad

In recent years most of PAL’s codeshare partners have been from the Mideast. PAL currently codeshares with Emirates and Gulf Air, according to OAG data. But PAL also previously codeshared with Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Most of its codeshares with Gulf carriers were forged during a period when PAL did not operate any services to the Middle East. In some cases Philippine authorities allowed PAL to have its codeshare partners use PAL traffic rights to Middle East countries, which enabled Gulf carriers to continue expanding in Manila after their own traffic rights were exhausted.

PAL and other Philippine carriers have since taken back most of these traffic rights. In 2H2014 PAL launched Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Dammam and Riyadh services (Dubai is served by PAL Express).

Cebu Pacific launched Dubai and is planning to launch Kuwait in Sep-2014. (Cebu Pacific also has been looking to serve Saudi ArabiaOman and Qatar.) PAL forged a partnership agreement with Etihad in late Apr-2014 that builds on the original codeshare between two carriers.

The two carriers announced on 9-Jul-2014 that the new partnership will initially cover the Manila-Abu Dhabi route, which Etihad and PAL both operate. For now the only extension announced beyond the parallel routing is to be on PAL/PAL Express services to 20 Philippine destinations, including holiday destinations such as Cebu, Palawan and Kalibo (a gateway to Boracay Island).

Etihad has said it has no intention of acquiring a stake in PAL. While an investment is always a future possibility for any carrier Etihad partners with, PAL has a better chance of finding a suitor within Asia – although even there it faces an uphill battle to secure an investment.

PAL recognizes the need to work with a Gulf carrier to support its effort to build a more global network. PAL currently does not codeshare with any European carrier. The new Etihad partnership could potentially be extended to destinations beyond Abu Dhabi in continental Europe and Africa as well as secondary destinations in the Mideast.

Much of the foundation for Philippine services to the Mideast is in carrying migrant worker traffic, but Gulf countries in particular have shown increasing interest in holidaying in friendly countries outside the region.

PAL has been looking at launching several potential destinations in continental Europe including AmsterdamFrankfurt, Paris and Rome. One or two European destinations may still be added over the medium term but following the Category 1 upgrade by the US FAA it is more likely to focus on expanding in the US market.

As PAL’s only current European destination is London, which is not generally considered a convenient hub for Asia to Europe connections, using Etihad and the Abu Dhabi hub to cover the rest of Europe would be a sensible move.

PAL Expands In US But Lacks A US Partner

In US, PAL currently serves Los AngelesSan FranciscoHonolulu and Guam. Restoration of Category 1 status has allowed PAL to shift all its LAX and some  its SFO flights to the 777-300ER.

PAL plans to shift its remaining San Francisco 747-400 flights to the 777-300ER at the beginning of Sep-2014. This will allow PAL to finally retire its 747-400s after an initial plan to retire the fleet in May-2014 had to be postponed.

Moving the 777-300ERs to the US market improves PAL’s product and efficiency but comes with a catch as PAL has to transition its Vancouver and Toronto services from 777-300ERs to A340s to free up 777s for the US market. PAL currently serves LAX with 11 weekly frequencies, SFO with seven weekly frequencies, GUM with five weekly frequencies and HNL with three weekly frequencies. Vancouver is served with seven weekly frequencies, three of which continue onto Toronto.

PAL has been looking at launching new destinations in the US in late 2014 or 2015. Chicago and New York are the most likely candidates. PAL is also planning to increase GUM and HNL to daily services from late Oct-2014. PAL uses A320s to GUM and A340s to HNL.

The increases in these markets come ahead of Cebu Pacific’s planned launch of services to the US, which is also made possible by the Philippines regaining a Category 1 ranking. Cebu Pacific aims to launch Guam by the end of 2014 using its A320 fleet and begin serving Hawaii in 2015 using its A330-300s. Category 1 also enables Philippine carriers to codeshare with US carriers.

A codeshare partnership with a US carrier would improve PAL’s position in the US market as PAL would gain offline access to domestic destinations. But PAL could find it challenging to attract a US major and may have to settle for a codeshare or interline with a smaller carriers such as Alaska AirlinesJetBlue and Virgin America. Partnering with a top European carrier may also be challenging although this may not be as critical if its able to expand its new partnership with Etihad.

In addition to potentially providing offline access to Europe via Abu Dhabi, the Etihad partnership could lead to partnerships with European carriers that are part of the Etihad equity alliance such as Alitalia and airberlin.

Australia: Philippine Airlines vs. Cebu Pacific

PAL would also find partnership with an Australian carrier valuable, although options are few.

PAL is pursuing significant expansion in Australia. PAL currently operates four weekly A340 flights to Sydney, three weekly A340 flights to Melbourne and three A320 flights to Darwin, with continuing service to Brisbane.

PAL plans to upgrade Sydney to daily in late Oct-2014. At about the same time PAL reportedly is intending to upgrade Melbourne to daily and begin non-stop flights to Brisbane and Perth. PAL briefly served Perth in 2013 with four weekly flights via Darwin but quickly dropped the route while maintaining Manila-Darwin-Brisbane.

The Australia expansion comes just as Cebu Pacific enters the Philippines-Australia market. Cebu Pacific plans to initially operate four weekly flights to Sydney from Sep-2014 and is looking at adding Melbourne in 2015. While Cebu Pacific should stimulate new demand, overcapacity is likely if PAL implements its plan to double capacity to Australia.

Overcapacity is also likely in the Hawaii and Guam markets as both PAL and Cebu Pacific expand. Overcapacity has already resulted in the Philippines-UAE market after both PAL and Cebu Pacific entered the market in 2H2014. Both carriers have also been pursuing significant expansion to Japan.

The prospect of overcapacity and irrational competition results in a relatively gloomy short to medium term outlook for the Philippine international market. The inevitable discounting has the potential to stimulate new business but there is no indication just how the market would respond to lower prices.


Source:, Centre for Aviation

Airlines Look For Ways To Swiftly Adopt Tracking System

Qatar_Airways_Boeing_777-300ER_A7-BACMystified by the loss of Malaysian jetliner MH370, some airlines will not wait for an industry wide solution to keeping track of their aircraft flights in real time, provided products are offered at the right price, industry executives said yesterday.

The disappearance of Malaysian Airline Systems’ flight MH370 almost three months ago has prompted calls for real-time tracking of planes and even continuous streaming of black box data.

“It must not happen again,” Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said at its annual meeting in Doha yesterday.

IATA, which brings together over 200 airlines accounting for 84% of the world’s air traffic, is planning to put aircraft tracking proposals to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September, which in turn says a standard could be in place in two to three years.

However, individual airlines could move sooner than that, Tyler said.

“It is the sort of issue where before regulations actually start to bite, airlines will already have made arrangements, they aren’t going to wait,” he said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Qatar Airways, hosting the meeting, said the technology to track planes was available today, citing the possible adaptation to tracking of the existing ACARS Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System as an example, which can deliver communication in short bursts, although it is not continual.

“Qatar is keen to explore this,” Chief Executive Akbar al Baker told reporters.

Industry-owned air transport communications company SITA also said yesterday it was developing a new tracking system that uses technology already installed in aircraft and SITA’s despatch and operations systems.

It said the system was currently being evaluated by several airlines and because it uses system that are already installed, it won’t mean extensives costs for airlines. Industry sources also said Malaysia Airlines was already looking at options that it will implement as soon as possible across its fleet.

For airlines though, a big issue will be ensuring costs for any technology do not spiral out of control, given the industry’s already tight profit margins.

IATA said yesterday its airlines would collectively make a profit of $18bn this year, cutting its forecast from a previous estimate of $18.7bn in March. That would equate to a net profit margin of 2.4%, compared with 1.5% in 2013.

“If it is prohibitively expensive we have to see where the cost benefit is,” Andrew Herdman, director-general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said.

“It is not a question of affordability, that is the wrong way of thinking of it in terms of individual airlines. But if it makes sense, the cost is not the issue.”

Airline executives at the IATA meeting said that ultimately costs would be passed onto passengers, rather than governments.

“If we ask governments, some countries, to do this, then there is the issue of national security and defence,” Osamu Shinobe, president and chief executive of All Nippon Airways , said.

However, Willy Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways and Iberia’s parent ICAG, said that there were still “issues that need to be understood”.

“I have no problem with something mandatory if it is a sensible solution and we seek to maximise the use of existing technology,” he added.

Aircraft operated by IAG send out perfomance data through ACARS every 30 minutes and this includes their position, he added.

Meanwhile Air France-KLM said in a statement that since 2009 Air France aircraft have transmitted their position every 10 minutes. That is reduced to one minute if there is an abnormal deviation. KLM has decided to follow suit, it added.

“The measures we have already implemented in this field are efficient and easy to apply,” said Alexandre de Junaic, chairman and chief executive of Air France-KLM.

SITA also said the enhanced tracking capability it was ready to introduce used existing technology that it provides and is already installed on aircraft.

“The solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by the airlines,” SITA added in a statement.

Tyler said IATA’s recommendations to be put to ICAO in September would focus only on the tracking of planes and not involve the continuous streaming of data, which would be more complicated to implement. “We must find a way of doing it that doesn’t add significantly to cost. Margins are very thin in the business,” he said.

Asked why it had taken so long to make proposals on tracking, despite calls for action after the Air France 447 crash in 2009, ICAO’s president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said it simply took time to find a global consensus.

“We have set in motion a process now,” he said.

Source: Gulf Times

Airlines Choose Between Dubai World Central and Sharjah International


Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central
Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC)

Dubai: Airlines have been spoilt for choices over where they will operate from during the Dubai International runway repair works that start in May. Some have chosen to test-drive Dubai’s newest airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, while others have opted to head to Sharjah International.

Philippine Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei and flydubai are some of the airlines which have confirmed operations from Al Maktoum International. Whereas Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Cebu Pacific will operate from Sharjah International.

Dubai Airports previously said that it is providing free landing for passenger airlines and free parking for up to six hours for airlines moving to Al Maktoum International during the 80-day period.

However, Sharjah International, which is roughly 20 kilometres from Dubai International, is proving more feasible for some airlines.

“Jet Airways has an existing base in Sharjah, thus for convenience of our guests, select flights to Dubai will now operate to Sharjah,” an airline spokesperson stated.

SpiceJet, which could not be reached for the comment, also has an existing base in Sharjah.

Al Maktoum International, meanwhile, is roughly 65 kilometres south of Dubai International.

Earlier this week, Adel Ali, Group chief executive of Sharjah-based budget carrier, Air Arabia, said travellers in the Gulf are spoilt for choices when it comes to airports, which he said, have some of the world’s best infrastructure.


A shift to Al Maktoum International could provide airlines with a preview of what it will be like to operate from the airport. It opened to passenger traffic in late 2013. And Wizz Air, Gulf Air, Jazeera Airways and Qatar Airways all operate regular services out of the airport.

The airport’s current capacity is 5 to 7 million passengers a year and will be expanded over the next six years to 160 million as Dubai bids to become a super aviation hub.

Dubai International has said it will cut 26 per cent of flights from May 1 until July 20 when scheduled runway repairs take place.

All airlines have so far said they will shift their operations back to Dubai International once the runway repair work is complete.


International logistics company, DHL Express, previously said it will keep its daily service slot at Dubai International; however, its joint-venture Aerologic will temporarily shift its twice-daily flights to Sharjah.

FedEx has said that it will split its operations between Dubai International and Al Maktoum International.



Gulf Carriers Heat Up Competition in Asia Pacific Airline Industry


There is a giant shift taking place at the moment in the commercial aviation industry as the extraordinary growth of Gulf carriers continues to be felt around the world. There is no slowing down of the region’s ambition to conquer as many long haul routes as possible, and if there were ever any doubts, they would have been dashed by their gigantic wide-body aircraft order (+350) at the end of last year.

While Airbus and Boeing are sporting rather large smiles, airlines in Asia and other markets are finding themselves having to rethink their approaches. Emirates, Etihad Airlines and Qatar Airways find themselves in one of the most advantageous locations, connecting Europe to Asia, North and South America, Africa and India. Add the seemingly unending economical investment from the region, and global airlines are reshuffling their strategies to keep up.


Asian low cost carriers are responsible for the world’s largest aircraft orders this year, but the competition for full service and low-cost carriers in Asia is only going to get hotter. Emirates are aggressively expanding, carrying 39 million passengers in 2013, and aiming for 70 million annual passengers by 2020 according to the carrier’s CEO. The Gulf airlines are taking firm aim at the Asia Pacific region which is already affecting Asian carriers in some ways.

Garuda Indonesia remains the largest Asian carrier between the two regions; much of its capacity related to religious travel, with Cathay Pacific the second largest early in 2013, slipping to third place at the beginning of this year. Philippine Airlines has taken the number two ranking, largely driven by a demand for migrant workers. The Philippines has put pressure on long haul operations with new services between Manila to Dubai from Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express. With increasing saturation of the Philippines-Middle East market, and the addition of the Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong service from Air Seychelles (part owned by Etihad), Cathay Pacific is consolidating its network, recently announcing the end of its services to Abu Dhabi and Jeddah.


Singapore Airlines which has always prided itself on its high service standards, faces competition not only on routes from Gulf carriers, but star rating too. Malaysia Airlines has been cutting costs and services for some time now, but reinstated its Kuala Lumpur to Dubai route in August of last year.


An increasing number of Middle Eastern-based airlines are eyeing long-haul, low-cost services as Saudi’s flynas (Nas Air) recently announced. The LCC intends on establishing connectivity to eight destinations in five countries, incorporating a 20×20 plan (20 million passengers by 2020).


Vietnam Airlines are also facing competition from Middle Eastern carriers who have added more internationally connecting flights from Vietnam, and Saudi Arabian Airlines has just announced its intention to extend connectivity to over 200 destinations globally, including Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan.


As some of these networks are reliant on seasonal religious festivals, and heavy one way traffic on routes attributed to employment, we can expect to see an adjustment in the way Asian carriers manage their Middle Eastern connections. Add the increasing expansion of UAE airlines who are fiercely building new networks globally and Asia’s enormous LCC growth, it is reasonable to expect that Asia-Pacific aviation is facing many more evolutions to come.

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