MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines (PAL) is set to fly to New Zealand with the launch of a new route that would also pass through the Australian city of Cairns, in December 2015.
This is the first time PAL will ever fly to New Zealand and marks the second long haul flight route to be launched after the Tan Group bought back control from San Miguel Corporation (SMC) in PAL last October 2014.
Rival Cebu Pacific of tycoon John Gokongwei had earlier announced his intention of bringing the budget airline to New Zealand. The rival airline was given the green light by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to fly to New Zealand 7 times a week.
PAL would operate 4 flights weekly every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday to serve the Manila-Cairns-Auckland route utilizing the 156-seater Airbus A320.
Bautista said the route would increase passenger traffic along three travel streams – Manila and Cairns, Manila and Auckland as well as Cairns and Auckland.
“The new service allows PAL to cater to the travel needs of business and leisure travelers and showcase its distinct brand of service. With close to 40,000 Filipinos residing in New Zealand, the new service is their convenient link to their home,” he said.
Upon arrival in Manila, he added that passengers could enjoy the capital city for a few days then connect to any of the 67 other destinations in the PAL network.
“In the long term, the service will drive traffic between Southeast Asia and New Zealand,” Bautista said.
Prior to launching flights to these two destinations, PAL opened services to New York last March 15 and to Jinjiang in Quangzhou, China, last April 25.
PAL currently has 67 routes: 37 international routes, including new destinations Jinjiang and Port Moresby, and 30 domestic routes, including Tablas, Romblon launched Friday, April 17.
The addition of the Jinjiang route would increase the number of PAL’s destinations in China to 7. It currently flies to Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, and Xiamen.
It is also awaiting the green light from CAB to fly to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
In 2014, PAL launched the London, Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Riyadh, Canton, and Haneda, Japan routes. PAL returned to New York via the John F. Kennedy International Airport on March 15 after an 18-year absence. New York is the 5th US city in PAL’s network, following Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Guam.
On April 16, PAL reported that it returned to black, posting a P129.74 million ($2.93 million) net income in 2014, reversing years of massive losses. – Rappler.com
$1 = P 44.60
Auckland, New Zealand skyline image from Shutterstock