Philippine Airlines Targets Saipan as Next Destination for PAL Express Network

Philippine Airlines is targeting Saipan as its next destination for the PAL Express network. The national flag carrier is considering offering two weekly flights to serve the 19,000 Filipinos that reside on the island-territory in the Northern Marianas.

Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Filipinos currently account for 35 percent of the total population of Saipan Island, which is a territory of the United States Commonwealth. If the flights are launched, they will become the only direct flight between Manila and Saipan, offering Filipinos convenient access to their home country.

It is believed that the new direct link would attract residents of Saipan to Manila, where they can connect to any of the destinations in the Philippine Airlines domestic network or even the international network, should they wish to holiday elsewhere.

"Our goal is to address the clamor for new routes in order to best serve the needs of the market," said Philippine Airlines in a statement. "As we tap new markets and build on existing ones, we aim to ensure connectivity across the route network of the PAL Group by providing the required flight frequencies and schedules."

PAL Express intends to operate the flights utilizing its fleet of two-class 156-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. Saipan would become the only international destination in the PAL Express network, which primarily operates flights within the Philippines. The carrier previously operated service between Manila and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Currently, residents of Saipan wishing to travel to Manila are forced to fly to Guam first, where they can connect to direct flights between Guam and Manila. Philippine Airlines and United Airlines are the only two carriers currently operating regularly scheduled service between Manila and Guam. However, Cebu Pacific is planning to launch flights to Guam by the end of this year. United Airlines also offers non-stop service from Manila to Koror in the Republic of Palau.

Philippine Airlines increased its flights between Manila and Guam from five flights weekly to daily flights last October. All flights are operated utilising the Airbus A320 aircraft. PAL Express currently operates a fleet of twelve Airbus A320 aircraft and 9 Bombardier Dash 8 turbo-prop aircraft.

Saipan International Airport is home to only a handful of regularly scheduled direct flights connecting the island territory to South Korea, China, Japan, and Guam. Charter service is offered on a seasonal basis to destinations in Russia. Manila would become the airport's first destination in the Philippines.


  1. Given that Continental dropped this routes years ago - it looks as if someone in network planning at PAL is sharpening their pencils. This route sounds like a win/win. Still waiting to see if the Honolulu - Winnipeg route becomes a reality.

    1. Continental/United used to serve Manila-Saipan?

      And I don't understand why PAL Express rather than PAL mainline. While I understand it's for connections with the local market (given Saipan and indeed the Marianas Islands as a whole have large Filipino populations: more than a quarter each for Guam and Saipan), they could also try to tap into the local Saipan market. Locals in Saipan who want to go to the rest of Asia (for this example, Singapore), could just take a PAL flight to Manila, then connect to Singapore. It would be a win-win scenario for both PAL and Saipan locals (Filipinos and others). Unless you cater to OFWs, you can't just cater to your expat community, you should also strive to gain a share of the foreign community (this is what CebPac is trying to work on on their Sydney flights)


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