Philippine Airlines Launching Flights to Saipan in June

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines will continue its international expansion in June when it launches twice weekly flights between Manila and Saipan, a territory of the United States located in the Pacific ocean.

philippine airlines flights to saipan
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The route will officially open on June 15, 2016 when the first flight departs Manila for Saipan. Flights will be operated by PAL Express using an Airbus A320-200 aircraft. The flight will take approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes to cover the entire 1,649 mile journey. 

According to Jaime Bautista, President of Philippine Airlines, the new route will create a much needed link between the Philippines and one of the largest islands in the Northern Marianas. "Saipan is home to thousands of Filipinos. Opening this new route will provide our kababayans that much-needed link to their homeland," said Bautista. "On top of that, business and leisure travelers from Saipan now have the opportunity to experience PAL's brand of service that is uniquely Filipino."

Philippine Airlines will be monitoring sales for the new route closely as it intends to increase frequency if demand permits. In an interview with the Saipan Tribune, Philippine Airlines representative, Ryan Uy, indicated that the route's initial feedback has been favourable

"The feedback is very positive especially with our kababayans," said Uy. "They find it really difficult to go back to our motherland because they need to stop somewhere else. With PAL soon launching direct flights, it will be much more convenient and we will cut the travel time by more than half." He added that the flights are ideally timed as travellers will be able to not only access Manila, but also to connect to the 29 domestic destinations served by Philippine Airlines. 

Philippine Airlines is hoping to replicate the success it experienced in Guam with its new route. Guam began with five weekly flights aboard a 156-seat Airbus A320, but was later upgraded to daily flights using a larger 198-seat Airbus A321 aircraft. 

According to Uy, PAL is not ruling out the possibility of daily flights to Saipan in the future. "If we can capture the entire Asian market and bring them to Saipan, I think it's possible," said Uy. He also noted that Manila is an ideal hub for travellers from Saipan journeying to other points in Asia, China, Australia, Europe, Canada, or the Middle East.

Although Saipan is known for its beaches, resorts, and dive spots, it will remain challenging for Filipino tourists to access the destination due to the requirement of a United States visa. Local stakeholders are currently lobbying U.S. officials to grant Filipinos visa-free access to Saipan under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

This is not the first time that Philippine Airlines has flown to Saipan. PAL last offered flights to Saipan in the 1990's. However, the service lasted for only a few months due to weak tourism and a lack of inbound passengers travelling from Saipan. Since then, the economic climate and demand for tourism has improved considerably. 

In addition, the Philippines stands to gain medical tourists from Saipan's medical referrals program. According to Ronald Sablan, the Director of Medical Referral Services, the new direct flights will add not only convenience for patients, but also help to cut costs. "We don't have to charter flights from Saipan to Guam now, which is very costly," said Sablan in an interview with the Saipan Tribune. He added that the direct flight will also eliminate the need for patients to change planes.

In 2015, approximately US $6.69 million was spent on medical expenses for 763 cases. Although the majority of medical cases are sent to Guam, between 33 to 37 percent are being sent to the Philippines.  Last year, 282 cases were sent to the Philippines to four of the nation's major hospitals including St. Luke's Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Asian Hospital, and Medical City.

Philippine Airlines flight PR1571 to Saipan will depart Manila every Wednesday and Sunday at 9:20pm, arriving in Saipan at 3:35am local time. The return service, PR1572, will depart Saipan every Thursday and Monday at 4:35am local time, arriving back in Manila at 6:45am. The General Sales Agent for Philippine Airlines in Saipan is Century Travel.


  1. Saipan has roughly fifty thousand population who are mostly foreigners from Asian countries including he Philippines. Good luck for PAL if it can sustain its business n Saipan.

  2. That is why they are starting this route off with 2 weekly flights. If the route does well, then they will add more. If it needs to be improved, they keep it where it is at.

  3. Aside from saipan population you forgot to mention tourists,businessmen,foreign workers from other countries...+valuable cargoes.

  4. Good job, PAL. This move will spur business growth in Saipan. Now thinking of carinderia, grocery and other foodstuff business investment for a FilAm like us. Yehey!


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