Turkish Airlines Targets New Flights to Manila

Following the recent establishment of an expanded air services agreement between Turkey and the Philippines, which paves the way for direct flights between the two countries, Turkish Airlines has expressed strong interest in launching non-stop flights to Manila.

Image Source: Turkish Airlines
According to Charles Jose, Spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the new agreement is designed to help expand the operations of carriers in both countries. Officials from both nations have been working to establish an agreement since 2010. Under the agreement, Philippine Airlines will be designated as the official carrier for the Philippines, while Turkish Airlines will be designated the official carrier for Turkey.

The new agreement allows Philippine carriers to launch three weekly passenger flights from any Philippine city to either Ankara or Istanbul. Three weekly all-cargo flights will also be permitted from Manila to Istanbul. Turkish carriers will be permitted to operate three weekly passenger flights from any point in Turkey to Clark or Manila, while three all-cargo flights are permitted between Istanbul and Manila.

According to Ernesto Chua, Chairman of the Philippine-Turkish Business Chamber, the signing of the air agreement indicates a clear sign of Turkey's strong interest to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries. The new flights are expected to boost tourism, trade, and investment.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that the new agreement will help the two countries to overcome difficulties in developing ties due to the geographical distance between the Philippines and Turkey. "Turkish Airlines wants to fly every day to Manila," said Davutoğlu.

President Aquino said that he intends to "focus on how we can spur greater economic activity between our nations," with the specific intention of improving tourism and trade through the new air services agreement. Aquino added that the two countries are working on a memorandum of understanding regarding tourism cooperation in order to stimulate marketing, investment, and cultural exchanges.

Turkish Airlines has expressed interest in serving Manila since 2011, but has been unable to without amendments to the air services agreement between the two countries. Most of the opposition has come from local carriers in the Philippines. Although the Turkish carrier would like to fly daily to the Philippines, the rights were not granted due to strong opposition from local carriers that fear a competitive threat. 

Prime Minister Davutoğlu of Turkey indicated that he believed there were solutions that would be mutually beneficial to both sides. But Philippine carriers strongly opposed the Turkish carrier's original request for daily flights and fifth freedom rights to Hong Kong or Australia. 

Under the recently established agreement, additional entitlements over and above the existing three weekly flights will only be added as demand increases. In addition, Turkish Airlines is expected to codeshare with Philippine Airlines. 

Although no formal announcements have been made, it is believed that Turkish Airlines will begin four weekly flights between Istanbul and the Philippines by the summer of 2015 using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft under a codeshare agreement with Philippine Airlines. This will eventually be increased to six flights per week. 

"We have already started working to launch direct flights to Manila soon," said Salih Kece, General Manager of Turkish Airlines for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Turkish Airlines has had an office in Manila since 2011. At present, there are approximately 35,000 passengers travelling between the two countries on an annual basis.


  1. I strongly believe that the government should not listen to the Philippine carriers. More foreign competition would mean more incentives for Philippine carriers to improve their products. Also, more choices for those travelling to and from the Philippines and wider range of destinations to connect to. It's not as if they would die without the government's help. It's possible. Look at SIA. But then again issue of employment and nationalism...

  2. Good point - Singapore Airlines is owned by their government holding company but look at the country's air service!

  3. Turkish Airlines is a huge and solid airline. It is the fourth largest airline in the world in terms of destinations, serving four continents. PAL really needs to codeshare with Turkish Air because PAL does not need to open new European destinations as Turkish operates in most (if not all) of European capitals and big cities, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Istanbul is also a good connection for onward flights to Africa, North and South America. Besides, it is a top-seed member of Star Alliance.

  4. And Turkish Airlines' inflight services and punctuality compete well with the likes of Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air and Qatar Air.


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