Cebu welcomed the first Emirates flight from Dubai on Wednesday, March 30, at the international airport in Mactan as part of the airline company’s circular service in the Philippines that involves a stopover in Clark.

Emirates’s Dubai-Cebu-Clark-Dubai route began operating daily starting with the inaugural flight that arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday.

A delegation that included several Emirates executives, representatives from the governments of the Philippines and Dubai, and international media accompanied the flight.

Emirates Cebu Dubai
INAUGURAL FLIGHT. A water cannon ceremony welcomes the first Emirates flight to Cebu from Dubai.

Important destination

Badr Abbas, Emirates senior vice president for Commercial Operations in the Far East, said the new service to Cebu underscores the airline company’s strong commitment to the Philippines as an important destination.

He added that Emirates is optimistic about the growth opportunities in the tourism, business, and cargo markets along the new service loop.

“With a convenient stop in Dubai, travelers from Cebu will be able to conveniently connect to 39 cities in Europe, 16 in the Middle East, as well as a number of destinations across our network in Africa and South America,” he said.

Abbas also said the new route will boost exports. “Export specifically from Cebu is widely needed in other parts of the world such as electronics, furniture, integrated circuits, automotive parts, watches and dried mangoes, among others,” he said.

Emirates Cebu ceremony
EXCHANGE OF GIFTS. A gift exchange marks the start of the Dubai-Cebu-Clark route at the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Emirates flights to Cebu, Clark

Emirates flights to Cebu and Clark will depart daily from Dubai at 2:55 hours, arriving in Cebu at 15:50 hours or 3:50 p.m. It will then depart Cebu at 17:25 hours or 5:25 p.m. and arrive at Clark International Airport at 18:45 hours. The return flight will leave Clark at 20:20 hours, arriving at Dubai International Airport at 1:25 hours the next day. The Philippines is 4 hours ahead of Dubai.

GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. president Louie Ferrer said the biggest concentration of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the Visayas and Mindanao is in the Middle East and Europe, adding that the new Emirates service makes it easier for them to travel between their home and place of work.

According to Ferrer, while the new terminal that’s expected to triple passenger capacity to 13 million is still set for completion in 2018, GMCAC has already introduced improvements at the Mactan airport, such as by hastening processing times and adding more retail options.

Emirates Cebu-Dubai
CONNECTIONS. Travelers from Cebu “will be able to conveniently connect to 39 cities in Europe, 16 in the Middle East, as well as a number of destinations across our network in Africa and South America,” said Emirates senior vice president Badr Abbas.

More passengers for Mactan airport

With people wanting to travel, airports will be at the forefront of development, said Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya.

He added that since the new Emirates route and two other international ones opened just this March will also mean more passenger traffic for the Mactan airport, there’s now a need for the early completion of the new terminal.

A bigger passenger terminal and the coming bus rapid transit (BRT) system will help propel Cebu’s growth as investment and tourism destination, Abaya also said.

Marlen is the editor of and co-founder of Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media.

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