Philippine Airlines Doing Fairly Well on Australian Routes

Australia is an important destination for Philippine Airlines.  Although Australian routes rank below the revenue generated on PAL's routes to the United States, they serve as a vital link in the carrier's global network. 

philippine airlines australia routes
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
With the Australian economy dependent on mining and resource exports, the nation's economy is nowhere near a world beating performance at present. Yields on Australian routes are under pressure for many international airlines, especially in the face of competition from low-cost carriers. However, overall airline passenger numbers continue to rise, buttressed by increasing tourist numbers into Australia.

Philippine Airlines should be at least breaking even on its main Australian routes to Sydney and Melbourne due to the drop in fuel prices, as that represents about 30 per cent of operating costs.

A quick analysis of Philippine Airlines' passenger numbers in February 2016 showed that the A340-300 flights from Sydney to Manila carried on average 184 passengers, while in the southerly direction to Sydney, the average was 252. February is generally not a peak month for travel to Australia, as the long yearly break for Christmas and New Year, as well as the January school holidays have concluded.

The three weekly flights between Manila and Melbourne fared better. The route, which is normally operated by an A330-300, carried an average of 266 passengers on the leg to Melbourne, while from Melbourne to Manila, the average loading was 189 patrons.

The Darwin and Brisbane combined flight typically carried 19 passengers to Darwin and 69 to Brisbane. However, outside of the school holidays, the average loading for the A320 flight from Brisbane reduced down to 55, with a further average of 19 passengers joining in Darwin. This route is much busier during school holidays, but numbers dropped substantially in February 2016 compared with February 2015.

Overall, the two most popular Australian routes are performing reasonably, given that it was not so long ago that Philippine Airlines was only operating four or five weekly flights to Sydney. The step up to daily service represented a major commitment by the airline. 

As the Manila-Sydney flights do not operate on a consistent timetable each day, this limits the ability of the carrier to capture connecting traffic. Some flights are mid-morning departures from Manila, with a late night arrival just before the 11:00pm Sydney Airport curfew. Meanwhile, the return leg is an early morning departure from Sydney not long after 6:00am on some days. This limits connecting traffic from other Australian airports such as Adelaide, Hobart or Launceston as Australian domestic flights do not start to arrive into Sydney until around 7:15am due to the curfew only lifting each morning at 6:00am.

Should Cebu Pacific (5J) ever commence flights to Melbourne from Manila, it will be interesting to see how Philippine Airlines (PR) fares, as PAL is often forced to reduce its fares on the Sydney route to compete better with Cebu Pacific.

-Surface Traveller

References: Australian Government Statistical Report


  1. Carriers should understand that majority of the workers in the resource sector here in AU are in Fly-in / Fly-out rosters, either on 14-7, 8-6 or 9-5 (days in - days out). If there are cheap flights going to the Philippines, we would rather go home every roster off than stay here and AU and pay a comparative rate of rent. I have heard the same sentiments from workers in Perth, Darwin and Melbourne. If Cebu Pac will target these cities, surely they will earn a lot from just the FIFO workers themselves.

    1. There aren't very many resource sector workers in Melbourne, unless you count office workers for BHP and so on, some of whom have been sacked in the last 12 months due to the mining and resources downturn in prices.

      Philippine Airlines tried operating three return flights a week to Perth via Darwin but pulled out after three months. It really should have given the route a year to prove itself.

    2. It will be good to see Cebu Pacific flying the same routes as PAL to drive the bloody PAL price down. Such a shame that people from DRW pays roughly 900 AUD return flight to MNL while the folks in SYD pays half of this price given the distance is 3000+ KMs more than DRW.

    3. Anonymous, sometimes PAL has sales meaning that one can purchase a DRW - MNL return flight for about A$450 - A$500. However yes it is true that outside of these sales, fares are high. Australia to SE Asia has always been common rated but I agree that it is ilogical that someone flying from DRW should pay the same fare as someone from BNE on the same aircraft. This may be a way for PAL to maximise revenue and fill more seats from BNE, whereas if it lowered the DRW fares you might get in first. (My statements rely on demand being high, which in the off season is often not true).

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