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  • By Jeffrey Teruel

Philippine Airlines drops plans to expand Guam service

Philippine Airlines

After initially announcing plans to expand its services to Guam this summer, Philippine Airlines has now backtracked on those plans.

According Philippine Airlines' international flight timetable, the additional twice-weekly flights that was planned (PR2110/PR2111) to start March 5, 2020 has been removed. Travelers will not be able to see or book these flights on the airline's website which were scheduled to depart Manila on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The planned flights would have been an addition to the daily flights (PR111/PR110) on the route, raising the airline's weekly flights on the route from 7 to 9 weekly.

However, the additional flight plans met a protest from United Airlines. In a filing to the US Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) in November 2019, United pointed out it has not been able to expand its presence on flights between the Philippines and the U.S. citing issues over slots and infrastructure needed for expansion while Philippine Airlines has been able to launch new routes to the U.S.

“Given these facts, United believes that the slot and airport access challenges it has experienced at Manila must be rectified before the Department approves the APC application,” United stated in its filing.

Among the new routes launched by Philippine Airlines between the US and the Philippines include its non-stop flights from Manila to New York. It will resume its non-stop Cebu-Los Angeles flights this summer, and launch flights to Seattle on May 3. With the addition of Seattle to its network, Philippine Airlines will have a stronger presence on the US-Philippine travel market with flights to six US destinations: Guam, Honolulu, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

Covering a distance of just over 2500 kilometers (1553 miles), the Guam-Manila route is served by a total of 16 weekly flights operated by both United and Philippine Airlines. United takes a majority of flights with a daily non-stop service along with twice-weekly flights that makes a stop at Koror, Palau. The flights between Guam-Manila are the only direct air links between the Philippines and the United States operated by a US-flagged carrier.

Following a protest over additional flights to Guam by Philippine Airlines, United now protesting its Philippine-based counterpart over its recently announced plans to launch new flights to Seattle.

According to a report by travel blog The Points Guy, United has made a new filing to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) as it seeks for the US DOT to defer the approval of Philippine Airlines' planned Manila-Seattle scheduled to begin in May.

“It is in the public interest to grant [Philippine Airlines’] application for additional authority to expand service only when United is able to expand service as well,” United said

United has also requested for the US DOT to hold off the approval until it can secure the slots and infrastructure to launch its own plans for additional flights between Guam and Manila. According to United, its plans has been blocked by Manila Airport.

At present, United currently operates 9 weekly flights to Manila from Guam (including 2 weekly via Koror, Palau) compared to Philippine Airlines' regular non-stop flights to five destinations. From Manila, Philippine Airlines operates flights to Guam, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. In addition to the flights departing from Manila, the airline is also relaunching its Cebu-Los Angeles flights this May. (Flights in Asia)

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