Philippine Airlines: Cairns and New Zealand Flights Begin December 2

Philippine Airlines is gearing up for another milestone as it prepares to launch service to New Zealand for the first time beginning on December 2. The national flag carrier will operate four weekly flights to New Zealand via Cairns, Australia.

philippine airlines auckland flights
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Flights will be operated by a 156-seat Airbus A320 aircraft, which will depart from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Introductory round-trip airfares from Manila to Auckland start at US$880, while round-trip flights originating in Auckland start at US$705.

As Philippine Airlines will be making a stop in Cairns, Australia, there is also an opportunity to utilise the new service to travel between Cairns and Auckland or Manila and Cairns. Flights from Auckland to Cairns are being sold starting at US$378 round-trip, while the same trip originating in Australia is being sold starting at US$368 round-trip. 

If you are travelling from Manila to Cairns, round-trip tickets start at US$1200, while return tickets from Cairns to Manila are being sold starting at just US$523. Given the large discrepancy in pricing for the same route depending on where one originates, it is clear that Philippine Airlines is making an aggressive push to attract Australian tourists to the Philippines and connecting traffic bound for other points in North Asia. 

Philippine Airlines President, Jaime Bautista, will be on-board the inaugural flight and attending a dinner reception in Auckland to celebrate the new service. According to Bautista, the new route will stimulate traffic across three separate channels: Manila-Cairns, Manila-Auckland, and Cairns-Auckland.

"The new service allows Philippine Airlines to cater to the travel needs of business and leisure travelers and showcase its distinct brand of service marked by Filipino warmth, charm, and hospitality," said Bautista. "Filipinos residing in New Zealand will find the new service as their convenient link to their home country."

Currently, there are approximately 44,000 Filipinos in New Zealand. Auckland is the largest airport in New Zealand and the country's main transport hub. It is located just 649 kilometres from New Zealand's capital, Wellington.

Both Australians and New Zealanders are eagerly anticipating the new service, which is expected to bolster tourism traffic between the two cities. Philippine Airlines will become the only carrier providing regularly scheduled non-stop service between Cairns and Auckland, competing against Air New Zealand's service, which is only seasonal.

According to Philippine Airlines' Regional Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Ian Robinson, early bookings on the route were as expected with the majority of traffic coming from the Philippines, New Zealand, and North Queensland. However, early indications show promise from North Asian countries. 

"Interest in New Zealand is going through the roof," said Robinson in an interview with the Cairns Post. "Indications at this time are promising from other north Asian countries for travel to Far North Queensland via Manila on this route. It takes time to develop a new service, but we have confidence in the sustainable success of this new service."

Robinson added that this will be the first time that Philippine Airlines has flown to either Cairns or Auckland. "This is certainly a significan investment in our brand in this region and a noteworthy commitment to the Australia and New Zealand markets," said Robinson. He added that this will also be the first regularly scheduled service between Auckland and Cairns after Jetstar stopped operating the route two years ago. 

Meanwhile, preparations are under way at Cairns Airport to welcome the inaugural flight. "We are planning a very warm welcome for the inaugural, due in at 7:30am, with local government, business, and tourism industry representatives turning out to celebrate the occasion," said Kevin Brown, Chief Executive of Cairns Airport. "It is always exciting to welcome a new airline and with the new Philippine Airlines service, we are welcoming flights on not just one, but two international routes as they operate Manila-Cairns-Auckland."

This December, Philippine Airlines will grow its Australasia network to eight destinations with the addition of Cairns and Auckland. Service to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea will also be added on December 18. That represents massive growth from three to eight Australasia destinations in less than three years.

The other destinations served by Philippine Airlines in the region include Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane, and Guam. It remains unclear if Philippine Airlines will return to Perth, a destination that it served briefly via Darwin in 2013 with A320 aircraft. Overall, Philippine Airlines will deploy nearly 6,000 weekly one-way seats to the Southwest Pacific in the beginning of 2016, which is almost double the capacity it had two years earlier.

Philippine Airlines will become only the third airline from outside the South Pacific region to serve Cairns, which is also served by Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific and Singapore based SilkAir. Cairns is primarily a leisure market. Philippine Airlines will be banking on strong demand between Cairns and Auckland, as well as demand from passengers in Australia and New Zealand bound for other countries in North Asia and vice versa. 

According to a report recently released by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Philippine Airlines still has opportunities in the regional international market within Asia Pacific in spite of intense competition from low-cost carriers such as Cebu Pacific. "Smaller niche markets such as Cairns, Port Moresby, and Perth do not have the volume to support low-cost carriers," stated CAPA in its report. "But can be potentially lucrative for a nimble network carrier such as PAL. However, Philippine Airlines will need to be relatively conservative and cautious as it continues its regional expansion."

Cairns and Auckland will become Philippine Airlines' 37th and 38th international destinations, while Port Moresby will become the 39th on December 18.

17 comments:

  1. Manila to Cairns is roughly 2,800 nautical miles and if you consider PAL's 156-seater A320s flying Manila to Cairns, it is considered long-haul like flying from Los Angeles to Miami, Florida which is almost six hours, right?. In this manner, PAL's Y fare of US$1,200 round trip from MNL to Cairns is very expensive noting that it is not a monopoly market. As a businessman, I cannot afford to fly that route using an overloaded sardine-like A320 (JetBlue has average A320 seating of 146 only). Good luck PAL, I'll continue to utilize the services of the different LCC and legacy airlines serving Australia and New Zealand. I will consider flying PAL when my business becomes robust and if PAL would lower down its fares in the future. LOL......

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  2. Businesswise, Cairns is just Bacolod of RP while the real Metro Manila is in Sydney. A businessman definitely goes to the big city for better business opportunities. Logic, Juan de la Cruz!

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    1. I've read somewhere that Australia didnt allow PAL to fly to Aukcland from Sydney which they preferred if I remember correctly

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    2. Protectionism, baby! Plain and simple!

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    3. LAN Chile has traffic rights Sydney to Auckland, why not PAL? Ask PAL!

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  3. Cairns is a tourist destination, aka boracay, bacolod is the sugar capital/bowl oh RP. So aka Brisbane ?

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  4. Sorry it should be ala boracay and ala brisbane

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    1. We're talking business here, not beaches and tourism!

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    2. That's why bacolod should be ala Brisbane, the sugar capital of down under

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  5. PAL wanted to fly to Auckland via Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane, which were not allowed by Aussie Gov,t. If PAL will fly directly to NZ using A330, it will be non-economical because there is not enough traffic between PH and NZ that can fill the A330. So, instead of flying directly to NZ, PAL uses its fifth freedom rights that Aussie govt granted during the latest air talks between two countries, in which CEBPAC was granted with slots. Therefore, the modest way to utilize the rights is this kind of set-up. Rather than paying the rights without utilizing it.

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  6. Big thumbs down for using A320 on a long haul flight. Plus, mo IFEs. Poor.

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    1. Ipads will be given and no its not a long haul flight.

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  7. PNoy signed an agreement with the Italian government to mount direct flights Rome-Manila vv. Will PAL take this?

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    1. Good job so Alitalia can come back to Manila again. I remember the early 80s when most European carriers were flying to Manila including my best - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines!

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  8. Overhead IFE is needed here because this is long haul. and I hope we can charge our IPADs in our seats should battery ran out.

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