RB may see route to Middle East affected by PAL expansion
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Monday, May 6, 2013
ROYAL Brunei Airlines (RB) routes to the Middle East may be affected due to the Philippine Airlines' (PAL) route expansion to the same region.
Last week, the Philippines national carrier announced that it is expanding its routes to better serve Filipino expatriate workers in the Middle East.
In addition to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), PAL has also added new routes to Australia, China and Malaysia, as the company pursues a US$10 billion fleet overhaul that will more than double its current fleet of 44 aircraft, said a news wire report by AFP.
In a separate statement, PAL president Ramon Ang said the push into the Gulf states starting October would serve the region's large Filipino workforce, which includes many domestic helpers, construction workers and medics.
"From UAE, for example, overseas Filipino workers can easily connect to other key cities or countries through PAL's airline partners in the Gulf," Ang said.
As of press time, RB did not respond to a request for an official comment on the situation.
From the official website, RB presently flies to Dubai and Jeddah in the Middle East.
A travel industry insider, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that RB will definitely be affected.
However, he contended that the national carrier has been known to "drop prices" when it is in competition.
"Most of the travellers using RB to fly from Manila to the Middle East are domestic helpers or labourers, and for them, price is more of an issue than the travel distance," he said.
He added that if RB were to slash its prices to be more competitive, it could secure a better payload, albeit revenue being affected.
In October last year, Maswadi Mohsin, the chief officer of Group Services at RB, said although low-cost carriers are plying almost the same market, they are looking at "different types of business".
While there are plenty of travellers who prefer low-cost carriers, there are "still lots of people who want to fly with conventional airlines", Maswadi said during TravelMania 2012.
He added that while there was stiff competition in the industry, there is still "enough room for a national carrier to compete".
One of the trends in recent times is that there are more Bruneians travelling within member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said Maswadi.
"There are now more people travelling more frequently compared to the last five years," he said.