The MoU lays the foundation for a renewed partnership agreement that will deliver a comprehensive range of commercial benefits to the airlines and their customers. Included in its scope are codesharing, frequent flyer reciprocity, airport lounge access, air pass agreements, and cargo cooperation.
Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said the MoU with Philippine Airlines was an important milestone in the long-standing relationship between the two flag carriers as well as ties between Abu Dhabi and the Philippines.
“Etihad Airways and Philippine Airlines have a history of successful cooperation on the Abu Dhabi-Manila route," he said.
PAL President and COO, Ramon S Ang, said: "We are very happy to seal this partnership with Etihad, a respected global carrier. This relationship will go a long way in providing our combined customer base a much more enhanced set of travel options. This also comes at an opportune time for PAL which is in the thick of a fleet modernisation and expansion program that will see the flag carrier pushing further not only into the Middle East but also on other parts of the globe using a modern fleet of aircraft.”
Mr Hogan said: “The MoU symbolises our shared commitment to growing the passenger and cargo market between the UAE and Philippines and fostering closer diplomatic, trade and cultural ties. Closer collaboration in our home markets and in the global arena will enhance the competitiveness and appeal of our offering and deliver an unrivalled customer proposition in the UAE, in the Philippines and abroad.”
Mr Hogan and Mr Ang both said they each hope a closer partnership between the two brands would make them first choice for the more than 700,000 Filipinos who live in the UAE and who account for much of the traffic on the Abu Dhabi-Manila route each year. They spoke also about increasing the number of leisure travellers to the Philippines – in particular from the Middle East and Europe.
“The Philippines is one of the world’s best kept secrets with great appeal to travellers from overseas. We are committed to working with the Philippine Airlines team and the Philippines tourism industry to bring more overseas visitors to their country and to increase the economic benefits of tourism,” Mr Hogan added.
Mr Hogan also identified the potential for both airlines to increase the volume and value of trade.
“Two-way trade between the UAE and the Philippines was valued at $US1.4 billion in 2013 and the UAE is the Philippines’ third-largest trading partner in the Middle East. Closer cooperation in the cargo arena, one of Etihad Airways’ most successful divisions, has the potential to boost each airline’s bottom-line and the economies of our two great nations.”
Etihad Airways launched services between Abu Dhabi and Manila with four weekly Airbus A330-200 flights in February 2006. Today, the airline offers twice-daily Boeing 777-300ER flights between the capitals. In 2013, the Abu Dhabi-Manila route was the airline’s second busiest route (547,68 passengers) in its global network. The airline employs nearly 1000 Filipinos worldwide including more than 270 cabin crew and over 20 pilots.