United Arab Emirates based Emirates and Etihad Airways are expected to commit direct flights to Davao City as bilateral air talks between the Philippines and the Middle Eastern country commences in Cebu City Wednesday, GMA News reported.
“The talks are expected to be successful in obtaining the commitment of the two biggest UAE airlines to launch a historic milestone: the first regular direct flights between the UAE and Davao International Airport,” Philippine Airlines said in a press statement.
Emirates flights will depart from its Dubai hub while Etihad Airways will serve the route from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
If realized, the new Davao routes will be the first international route to Mindanao outside the periphery of the Southeast Asian region.
The statement said the new flights “would cement the increased standing of the Mindanao region as an emerging tourism hub and economic engine in its own right, in addition to its longstanding role as the country’s agribusiness center.”
PAL added the new routes could be welcome news for overseas Filipino workers from Mindanao and are based in the UAE as the Department of Labor and Employment is also in the process of establishing One Stop Service Centers for OFWs across the country to cater to their documentary needs.
The imminent announcement comes as a positive development for the Philippines even as travel advisories warning foreign nationals of security threats in Visayas and Mindanao.
“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,” PAL said.
The new routes, PAL said, would help ease the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where Emirates and Etihad already operate a combined 35 flights a week.
PAL, and fellow Philippine carrier Cebu Pacific fly a combined 17 weekly flights to the UAE while also serving routes to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
PAL and Cebu Pacific are also expected attend the talks, which will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.