Qatar Airways Plans Daily 787 Flights to Cebu in 2016

A report released by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation reveals that Doha-based Qatar Airways is planning to resume non-stop flights between Doha and Cebu with daily Boeing 787 service by the end of this year. Qatar previously served Cebu via Singapore until the route was dropped in 2012.

qatar cebu flight
Image Source: Qatar Airways
In an interview at the Singapore Airshow with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, revealed that the carrier was laying out plans to launch daily service to Cebu by the end of 2016 with initial service operated by a Boeing 787-8 aircraft. The carrier intends to eventually transition the route to an Airbus A350 service.

Qatar Airways currently operates three daily flights to the Philippines. Two daily flights are operated by a Boeing 777-300ER between Doha and Manila, while a third daily flight is operated from Doha to Clark with an Airbus A330-200.

Once Qatar launches daily service to Cebu, it will become the third largest foreign airline operating in the Philippines after Cathay Pacific and Emirates. Qatar was forced to launch service to Clark in 2013 after it lost the rights to operate a second daily service to Manila following the termination of a codeshare agreement with Philippine Airlines. However, following the renegotiation of the Qatar-Philippines air services agreement, Qatar was able to restore the second daily frequency to Manila, while maintaining the service to Clark International Airport.

Qatar currently competes with both Cebu Pacific and Philippines Airlines, which operate flights from Manila to Doha. Cebu Pacific launched service to Doha in July 2015, while Philippine Airlines only began operating the route last month.

This will be the second time that Qatar has attempted flights to Cebu. It began operating flights to Cebu via Singapore in 2003 with a daily Airbus A330-200 service. But the unprofitable route was dropped in 2012 due to low yields. However, Qatar Airways believes that the route can be made viable with a new-generation aircraft such as the Boeing 787, which is more fuel-efficient and costs less to operate. As the carrier accepts delivery of more A350 aircraft, the route will eventually be transitioned to an A350 service.

The launch date is presently contingent on aircraft delivery schedules. However, Qatar has committed to launch the new route in 2016, which will make it Cebu's third long haul destination after Los Angeles and Dubai. Under the leadership of the GMR-Megawide partnership, Mactan-Cebu International Airport is quickly rising as an alternative transit hub to Manila, which is plagued by congestion and poor facilities.

Cebu Pacific currently operates more than twenty domestic routes from Cebu with plans to expand further, while Philippine Airlines operates seven domestic routes from the airport. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, there are considerable opportunities for growth from Cebu. However, carriers should beware of overcapacity, which could become a concern on international routes. CAPA noted that Cebu is a price-sensitive market with limited premium demand as was discovered during Qatar's last attempt to serve the city non-stop. With Emirates recently launching direct service between Cebu and Dubai, it remains unclear if Cebu will be able to support two Gulf carriers.

References: CAPA


  1. Correction: Cebu Pacific launched their Manila to Doha flights on June 2015.


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