Travel and Tourism

More US carriers likely to fly to Manila as United starts Manila-SanFo-Manila flights

MANILA – More carriers from the United States are keen to fly to the Philippines, according to US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson.

Carlson made the announcement after welcoming United Airlines’ first non-stop flight from San Francisco, California to Manila.

United Airlines used to service Filipinos in Manila going to the United States thru flights with stops at Tokyo.

The inaugural flight carrying 325 passengers touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Starting Monday, United Airlines will have a daily service between the two cities.

The daily nonstop flights will be operated using a Boeing 777-300ER, the airline’s largest aircraft. The plane has 60 seats in the United Polaris business cabin, 24 seats in the United Premium Plus cabin, and 266 seats in the United Economy cabin. Passengers on the 15-hour flight will also be served Filipino-inspired meals.

“Presidents (Joe) Biden and (Ferdinand R.) Marcos (Jr.) agreed in May to explore how to expand air ties, highlighting how this effort will strengthen our economic and people-to-people ties,” she said.

Carlson added that the US engagement with Philippine aviation authorities will help open more opportunities to American carriers seeking to serve the country’s market.

“I am confident that United’s flight is simply the first of many more air links between our countries,” she said.

Aside from United Airlines, only flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has been flying directly to San Francisco.

United Airlines, on the other hand, has been offering non-stop services to Palau and Guam via Manila.

United will be competing against Philippine Airlines (PAL), which also operates the following routes from Manila to these US destinations: double daily flights to Los Angeles, daily flights to San Francisco and Guam, and several weekly flights to New York and Honolulu.

In a statement released back in July, around the same time that United’s route was first announced, PAL said that it “welcomes additional competition on transpacific routes.”

On the part of United, it said it would compete with the Philippines’ flag carrier through customer service and route network. Lower fares, however, might not be its edge.

“We want to be competitive in the market, but you’ll find that we’re not going to lead with our pricing points because our customer service, our product, has an outstanding value,” Marcel Fuchs, United’s managing director of international sales.

United Airlines (United) flight UA-191 landed in Manila early Monday morning, October 30, marking the first ever nonstop flight by a United States carrier from continental US to the Philippines, Rappler reported.

The flight, which had a full passenger and cargo load, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino Internationl Airport Terminal 3 at 5:20 am, carrying 325 passengers. The next flight back to San Francisco with 334 passengers was scheduled to depart from Manila at 9:55 am, Monday with the estimated time of arrival in the US at 7:20 am, Monday.

“The San Francisco-Manila flight is indeed the first time a US airline has flown between the US mainland and the Philippines, Manila. So, we are just really, really pleased to be high in the air and to be leading this new service,” said  Fuchs

Passengers on the 15-hour flight will also be served Filipino-inspired meals.

“The team na nag-create ng menu for this flight is headed by a Filipino kaya our customers can expect to enjoy Filipino dishes – heavy sa rice,” Pam Navarro, United’s country manager for Philippine sales, told Rappler.

The Manila route marks United’s 16th non-stop destination from the US to the Asia-Pacific region. Earlier, on October 28, United also launched more routes to Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita), Japan.

Asked whether United has considered opening more Philippine routes, Fuchs said there were no specific plans yet, although the current route seems to be doing well.

“This is the first day we started our service, and clearly we are convinced that this service will do well, but it probably wouldn’t be the right opportunity today to speculate about additional services,” Fuchs said.

“We got to make Manila-San Francisco work. Everything we see – from the support of the travel, trade, and business community – would suggest that we’re going to be successful in this market.”