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MANILA, Philippines – Good news for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other travelers flying to and from Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.
After HK Express and United Airlines (UA), two more airlines will have regular flights to and from the Philippines’ main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), expanding choices for travel.
Starting Thursday, November 9, start-up carrier Greater Bay Airlines (carrier code: HB) will operate flights between Hong Kong and Manila five days a week, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced.
Greater Bay Airlines Flight HB231 will arrive at NAIA Terminal 3 at 2 am and Flight HB232 will leave from the same terminal at 3 am.
|Flight no.||From||To||Departure/Arrival||Days of week|
|HB 231||Hong Kong||Manila||2350/0200+1||Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday|
|HB 232||Manila||Hong Kong||0300/0510||Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday|
The Hong Kong-based airline describes itself as a “value carrier,” offering, as of posting, one-way economy seats from Hong Kong to Manila for $250 in the coming weeks.
Meantime, Malaysian-based budget airline Batik Air (carrier code: OD) will begin daily flights between the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila starting December 1, Friday.
Flight OD 510 will arrive at NAIA Terminal 3 at 2:50 am, and flight OD 511 will depart from NAIA Terminal 3 at 3:50 am.
These graveyard flights are generally cheaper than daytime flights.
“We are pleased to welcome Greater Bay Airlines and Batik Air to NAIA’s growing roster of air carriers. This expansion reflects our commitment to providing passengers with an even broader range of travel options,” MIAA Officer-in-Charge Bryan Co said in a press statement.
Hong Kong Express (carrier code: UO) started daily direct flights between Hong Kong and Manila on October 17. UA, on the other hand, began its non-stop flights connecting Manila with San Francisco on October 30.
Greater Bay Airlines said in a press release that its new Asian route will offer more choices to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong as well as tourists in the special administrative region visiting beaches in the Philippines.
“A major economic and business hub in Southeast Asia, Manila is one of the busiest destinations in the region. The Philippines is not only the home for many Filipinos working here in Hong Kong, but it is also renowned for the crystal-clear waters and breathtaking landscapes in Boracay, Palawan and Cebu. Manila is undoubtedly a convenient gateway for both business and leisure travellers from Hong Kong,” said Greater Bay Airlines.
The carrier said it will use a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with an all-economy configuration for this flight.
Greater Bay Airlines was set up to help develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the integration of Hong Kong into Mainland China’s overall development, the airline’s website says.
Greater Bay Airlines has a license to operate scheduled air service between Hong Kong and 104 routes covering the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and destinations in the Asia Pacific region.
Batik Air, which used to be Malindo Air, started in March 2013 with domestic flights in Malaysia, but it now operates routes in Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.
It manages 800 weekly flights with 52 routes within the region. Batik Air is a member of the Lion Air Group of Indonesia composed of Batik Air Indonesia, Super Air Jet, Lion Air, Wings Air, Biz Jet and Thai Lion Air.
The MIAA said the addition of Greater Bay Airlines and Batik Air brings the total number of airlines hosted by NAIA to 48. Of this, 42 international carriers serve 57 foreign destinations.
NAIA’s Airport Integrated Command and Control Center (AICCC) currently handles 800 flights departing from and arriving at NAIA within a 24-hour window.
Co said MIAA is now able to accommodate more flights due to “better schedule management by the AICCC,” the central hub that coordinates and controls flight information services and gate planning.
“Apart from expanding the range of destinations for Filipinos and international guests flying to and from NAIA, we also seek to diversify our airline roster, ultimately benefiting passengers who will have access to more affordable and competitive air fares, as well as a wider array of flight options, including different departure times, various service classes, and potentially more convenient routes. This increased variety can better cater to individual preferences and needs,” Co said.
The Philippines’ congested main gateway often deals with flight delays and sudden flight cancellations due to factors such as weather-related disturbances and aircraft availability.
Currently, NAIA is operating far above its maximum declared annual capacity of 31 million passengers. In 2019, before pandemic restrictions clamped down on air travel, NAIA already handled more than 48 million passengers a year. By 2028, it’s projected that more than 55 million passengers would be passing through the country’s main airport. – with a report from Lance Yu/Rappler.com