Philippine Airlines Launching New Zealand Flights, Adds Cairns

Filipinos in New Zealand have finally had their wish granted just in time for the Christmas season when Philippine Airlines begins direct flights from Manila to Auckland, New Zealand in December. PAL will be connecting both cities via Cairns, Australia. 

philippine airlines auckland
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Philippine Airlines will launch four weekly flights between the two countries beginning on December 1. It will be the first time that PAL has served New Zealand. Flights will be operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft, making a stopover in Cairns, Australia travelling in both directions.

The stopover in Cairns will expand Philippine Airlines' network of Australian cities to five after Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, and Brisbane. Australian tourists and Filipinos residing in Cairns will now be able to enjoy a direct link to the Philippines. In addition, Philippine Airlines will have the rights to pick up passengers in Cairns, who are bound for Auckland.

Air New Zealand is presently the only carrier operating direct service between Auckland and Cairns. When Philippine Airlines begins operating the route in December, it will be competing directly with Air New Zealand for traffic between the two cities. The announcement has drawn positive feedback from officials in all three countries. 

A Positive Boost for Tourism in New Zealand

In New Zealand, airport officials said that the new flight was good news for tourism and the economy. "This new service will see 64,500 seats per year on the Manila to Auckland route, contributing an estimated $41 million per year to the New Zealand economy," said Norris Carter, General Manager of Auckland Airport. "This new service will provide more options for visitors when travelling to New Zealand and also for New Zealanders wishing to visit the Philippines."

There are currently an estimated 40,000 Filipinos living in New Zealand. Travel is growing between the two countries as more New Zealanders discover the Philippines as a tourist destination and as more Filipinos travel to New Zealand to visit friends and relatives.

An Economic Injection for Queensland, Australia

In Cairns, residents are thrilled with the opportunity to fly directly to the Philippines for a holiday, while also gaining more choice and competition when travelling to New Zealand. The flights will stimulate economic activity in the region, where tourists from both the Philippines and New Zealand will be able to fly in to experience the Great Barrier Reef

According to airport officials in Cairns, tens of millions of dollars are expected to be injected into the region's economy annually as a result of the new flights. "It's a significant boost to our economy. This gives us year-round connectivity to Auckland and that whole new opportunity into South-East Asia and beyond," said Kevin Brown, CEO of Cairns Airport. "This service is four times a week. In time, it may get to daily. If it does, there's potential of $80 million of economic growth for our region."

Australian tourism officials said that the flights would bring more New Zealanders to Cairns. "The New Zealand market is the low hanging fruit and our cousins in New Zealand are very interested in coming to Cairns," said Alex de Waal, Chief Executive of Tourism North Queensland. "They love the destination. It's a short hop, step, and a jump to get here. New Zealand is a very significant market for this region. I think the volume of passengers will be very significant."

The Philippine Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft operating the route will be equipped with 156 seats featuring Business and Economy class. The approximate stopover time in Cairns will be just one hour. Air New Zealand also uses an Airbus A320 on its service between Auckland and Cairns. 

Flights will depart Manila on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 11:45pm. The flight touches down in Cairns the following morning at 8:00am, eventually reaching Auckland at 4:00pm after a one hour layover in Cairns. Return trips depart Auckland at 6:30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. They arrive in Cairns at 10:30pm and depart for Manila one hour later, arriving in the Philippine capital at 3:30am the following morning. 

According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, the new flights will stimulate passenger traffic between three city pairs: Manila and Cairns, Cairns and Auckland, and Manila and Auckland. "With close to 40,000 Filipinos residing in New Zealand, the new service is their convenient link to their home country," said Bautista.

The announcement comes following the enhancement of the Philippines-Australia air services agreement last year. The new flights are still subject to regulatory approval. In 2014, twelve-thousand Filipinos visited New Zealand, while 20,000 New Zealanders visited the Philippines. 

Bautista added that the new route will also stimulate traffic between Southeast Asia and New Zealand. However, Philippine Airlines won't be alone for long in Cairns as Singapore based SilkAir prepares to launch its own Cairns to Singapore flights next week. 

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  1. Nice job PAL! That's the way an airline business should be: competing with any fellow airline including Cebu Pacific Airways! Do not forget the essential rules for business - good and honest-to-goodness service, friendliness and thoughtfulness!

  2. More Power to Philippine Airlines...

  3. As much as this is good news, I feel that being stuck on a 10+ hour flight on an A320 with no IFE isn't exactly the most appealing thing in the world. MNL-AKL should have been direct with the Bi class A330, or an A340 which sadly have their utils. maxed out. 5J also comes in as a threat should their plans to fly to AKL also materialize. While a 436Y A330 isn't the best plane to be seated on, their lower prices would generally appeal to the public.

    1. I think they're using the A320 for the time being like a trial period. If loads are great, PAL will gradually add frequencies or change to a much bigger aircraft (i.e. A321ceo/neo or A330). If not, stick to the A320 until economics are good for an upgrade.

  4. I agree - I can't imagine sitting in either cabin on their A320 for six hours to Cairns. (I'd reconsider if it was maxed out like the Qatar A320s). In any case - if PAL can eek out a profit on the route, more power to them. At least their management is looking seriously at the economics when shifting planes around. A standardized fleet will help significantly.

  5. Pilots are the navigators of the modern world, connecting people and cultures through the air. AV8 Prep private pilot license


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