Cebu Pacific Selects Dubai as First A330 Destination

The Philippines carrier, Cebu Pacific has announced it will operate direct daily flights between Manila and Dubai from October 7, 2013, the first long-haul destination it will serve with its new widebodied Airbus A330-300s.  The low-cost carrier, already the largest domestic operator in the Asian country, is planning a significant expansion in the international market, driven by a growth into medium- and long-haul markets.

Cebu Pacific has signed a firm deal to lease eight A330-300s and is scheduled to receive two examples during the current calendar year.  A further two aircraft are due to follow in 2014 and with a range of up to eleven hours opens up direct flight options to markets such as Australia, Middle East, parts of Europe and the US.  Only one aircraft is required to perform the Dubai service suggesting a second long-haul destination could be added to the Cebu Pacific network in 2013.

Middle East giants Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways already provide direct air services to Manila from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively, but Cebu Pacific Air will be the only Filipino carrier to offer non-stop service on the route between the Philippines’ capital and UAE.  Links to the UAE were previously offered by Philippine Airlines, which made its debut on the Dubai route in March 1987 and Abu Dhabi in May 1992.  Originally served by a Douglas DC-10 and latterly using Boeing 747s, the carrier continued to serve the market to April 1998, when Emirates launched its own flights to Manila.

“Cebu Pacific 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% lower than current offerings and fly direct to Manila, a mere nine hours away from their loved ones, via a Cebu Pacific flight,” said Alex Reyes, General Manager, Long Haul Division, Cebu Pacific.

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.  “Dubai is the largest long-haul market to and from the Philippines.  IATA PaxIS data indicate more than 70% of passengers in this route take multiple stops, and connecting flights because no home carrier offers a non-stop service,” said Reyes.  “With Cebu Pacific’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.”

The Filipino carrier plans to configure its A330-300s in an all-Economy layout of around 400 seats with a 31-inch pitch, the highest seat density of any A330 in the world, as the carrier is targeting the cost conscious migrant Filipino worker for its new low-cost, long-haul service.  Since its inception in 1996, Cebu Pacific has successfully stimulated growth in the short-haul markets it serves, especially to markets where a large number of Filipinos work or reside.  Approximately eleven million Filipinos are estimated to reside abroad, around one in ten members of the population.

The arrival of Cebu Pacific and its dense A330-300 configuration will bring around 5,600 additional seats a week on the Manila – Dubai route (approximately 292,000 seats a year), a 37.7 per cent increase in capacity.  Emirates Airline currently offers three flights per day on the route using Boeing 777-300ERs.  In the table below we highlight O&D demand on the route over the past five years.



Estimated O&D Passengers

% Change



34.1 %



21.4 %



4.9 %



5.9 %



(-4.9) %

Away from its long-haul activities and plans, Cebu Pacific currently has the most extensive network in the Philippines with 32 domestic destinations and hubs in Manila, Cebu, Clark Kalibo, Iloilo and Davao.  It also offers 20 international destinations, namely Bangkok, Bali, Beijing, Brunei, Busan, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Incheon (Seoul), Jakarta, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Osaka, Shanghai, Siem Reap, Singapore, Taipei and Xiamen. 

The low-cost carrier currently operates ten A319s, 23 A320s and eight ATR 72-500 turboprops.  Between 2013 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 19 more A320s and 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft as it looks to strengthen its regional presence.