The low-cost Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific Air will stop flying to Doha at the beginning of July because the route is no longer financially viable, it said.
The airline has been flying direct to Qatar for just over two years, and announced that its last return flight from Manila to Doha will be on July 1.
It will also cease flying to Kuwait from mid-June and the Saudi city of Riyadh in early July.
Passengers who are already booked on flights after these dates can transfer to another airline offering the same routes (subject to availability), book for an earlier flight with Cebu Pacific (also depending on availability) or get a full refund.
The airline “strongly advised” all such passengers to contact their travel agents or its hotline (+632 7020 881) to discuss their options.
Too much competition
Cebu Pacific is essentially halting the routes due to too much competition, according to Atty JR Mantaring, vice president for Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific.
In a statement this week, Mantaring said:
“Of late, other carriers have aggressively added more flights, which has resulted in substantial oversupply of seats and fares that are so low, hence making the routes unsustainable…
At this point, it makes more sense for us to re-deploy the aircraft used for our Riyadh, Doha and Kuwait service to routes where we can further stimulate demand and sustain our low fare offers.”
Cebu Pacific will continue to fly to Dubai and Sydney and may increase capacity to these cities, the statement added.
The airline began direct flights between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha in June 2015.
A 436-seat, all-economy class Airbus A330 flies between the cities twice a week. It was initially popular when the route first started because of its competitive fares.
While Qatar Airways also flies twice-daily direct flights on the same routes, prices were usually higher.
The national carrier increased its service to the Philippines’ capital in July 2015. That’s the same month that Cebu started its direct Doha-Manila service.
National flag carrier Philippine Airlines also began offering the same route earlier this year, in a bid to meet the needs of Qatar’s 260,000-strong Filipino population.
That carrier operates four times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on A330 aircraft.
Its daytime departure and arrivals times, and its competitive introductory prices, has attracted many travelers.
Tickets range from QR885 to QR2,745 in economy, and include WiFi and meal service. Passengers can also check in two pieces of luggage, weighing up to 23kg each.
A business class option could be rolled out this summer.
Are you due to fly with Cebu Pacific soon? Thoughts?