By Andy Sambidge
Gulf carrier will stop services on Philippines route from March 27; may revisit in future
Qatar Airways is unlikely to reverse its decision to stop services to Cebu in the Philippines later this month but could revisit the services in the future.
Despite efforts by stakeholders in Cebu, Qatar Airways is pushing through with plans to halt flights between Doha and Cebu by March 27 due to taxes imposed on foreign airlines and rising fuel costs, Manila-based Business World reported.
Nigel Paul C Villarete, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager, said the country manager of Qatar Airways had "promised to just consider reopening the route in the future".
He was quoted as saying that Qatar Airways management had cited rising fuel costs as well as the carrier taxes imposed by the Philippine government for its decision.
Foreign airlines are slapped with a 3 percent common carriers tax and a 2.5 percent gross Philippine billings tax on cargo and passenger revenues originating from the country, the website reported.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will stop flying direct flights between Manila and Amsterdam from March 26, and is instead offering a stopover flight in Taiwan, it added.
Villarete said Abdallah Okasha, Philippine country manager of Qatar Airways had pledged to review the reopening of the Doha-Cebu line once economic conditions improved.
Qatar operates flights from Doha to Cebu three times weekly.
Villarete said the cancellation of the flights will have an effect on tourists from Europe as the Doha-Cebu line provided them the easiest route to the island.
However, he added that he was confident that other players would come in, citing reports stating that Emirates and Etihad Airways are interested in the route.
Last week, business chiefs in Cebu wrote to Qatar Airways to urge it to reconsider plans to suspend flights.
The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has made an appeal to the Gulf airline, saying its withdrawal would have "adverse effects" on the local economy.
I find it ironic that Qatar Airways is halting flights due to carrier taxes imposed because QA charges the highest passenger taxes of all the Gulf Airlines.
It's a big loss for us OFWs who hail from the visayas region. I hope both parties could find a way to re-open the route... :(