The largest airline in the Philippines will begin offering direct flights between Doha and Manila this summer, offering a new and affordable way for Qatar’s large Filipino population to travel home.
Starting June 4, low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air (Cebu) will fly a 436-seat, all-economy class Airbus A330 between the cities twice a week.
The flight departs Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport every Monday and Thursday, at 9:35pm. It arrives in Doha at 2:45am the next day. The return flight departs Doha every Tuesday and Friday, at 4:15am, arriving in Manila at 6:35pm.
According to the carrier, the route aims to serve over 260,000 Filipinos in Qatar, which is home to the third-largest Filipino community in the Middle East.
That number appears to be growing.
Last month, the Gulf Times reported that some 94,000 work visas has been secured by the Philippines to send overseas workers to Qatar, mostly to fill health and transportation-related jobs.
In a statement, Alex Reyes, general manager of Cebu’s long-haul division, said:
“We are excited to offer Cebu Pacific’s trademark low fares to travelers in Doha, especially since we are the only low-cost carrier operating this route. With our expanding network, Qatar becomes more accessible from the Philippines, and the Filipino community can reunite with their families more often.”
Currently, the only direct Doha-Manila route is operated by Qatar Airways, which appears to be more expensive than Cebu. For example, a fare search this morning showed that a roundtrip economy class flight to Manila from Doha on June 4, returning June 18, would cost QR3,890.
Under Cebu’s introductory fare promotion, which lasts until today (March 16), Manila-Doha prices start at QR88 each way, for travel between June 4 and Dec. 31, 2015.
Regular fares in the summertime appear to start roundtrip at QR1,801, with no checked luggage or meal, or QR2,087 if both of these options are selected.
Filipinos in Qatar are not the only ones seeing more affordable flight choices out of Doha.
Jet Airways announced this week that it has added two new flights from Doha to Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India. The carrier will initially fly three days a week and then from June 1 begin flying daily to the two cities. It currently already flies to Mumbai and Kochi.
And passengers flying to Pakistan will also have more route options starting this summer, when Qatar Airways expands its reach from Doha to three cities there: Sialkot, Faisalabad and Multan.
The national carrier will begin flying to Sialkot four times a week on July 16; three times a week to Faisalabad starting July 17; and three times a week to Multan starting Aug. 1.
Qatar Airways already operates 45 flights a week across four cities in Pakistan – twice daily flights to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and three flights a week to Peshawar.