Philippine Airlines will end flights to Auckland via Cairns from December in favour of a nonstop service to New Zealand’s largest city.
The new nonstop Manila-Auckland route will be served with Airbus A340-300s featuring 254 seats spread across 36 in business and 218 in economy.
Taking off from December 6 2017, the flights will operate three times a week, with PR218 an overnight service from Manila and the reciprocal PR219 departing Auckland in the early afternoon.
As as consequence of launching nonstop flights to Auckland, Philippine Airlines said it would end the current Manila-Cairns-Auckland service, which began in 2015 and is served with 156-seat Airbus A320 narrowbodies.
The airline said those with tickets on Manila-Cairns for travel after December 6 would be offered the chance to rebook their flights on another of Philippine Airlines’ Australian routes or offered a refund.
Meanwhile, travellers holding tickets for Cairns-Auckland would be transferred onto another carrier, while passengers booked to travel between Auckland and Manila via Cairns would be accommodated on the new nonstop service.
Philippine Airlines will be the only airline to offer a nonstop option between the Philippines and New Zealand.
The end of flights to Cairns will reduce Philippine Airlines’ Australian network to four destinations – Brisbane via Darwin and nonstop flights to Melbourne and Sydney.
A further shakeup to its services in this part of the world may be on the cards in 2018 when Philippine Airlines takes delivery of the Airbus A321neo.
The long-range narrowbody could allow Philippine Airlines to decouple the Manila-Darwin-Brisbane service and offer nonstop flights to the Queensland capital.
“That will happen in 2018 when we take delivery of the A321neoLR, the one with additional centre tanks,” Philippine Airlines president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista told Australian Aviation in an interview in late 2016.
The Airbus website lists PAL as having orders for 21 A321neo aircraft, without breaking down the order into A321neo and A321neoLR variants.
The A321neoLR has a typical range of 4,000nm, while Brisbane-Manila measures 3,125nm, according to the Great Circle Mapper.
In May 2015, the governments of Australia and Philippines agreed to an expansion of the bilateral air services agreement that lifted the number of seats available for Filipino carriers operating to the four major Australian gateways of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to 9,300 seats per week.
In April 2016, Air New Zealand signalled an intention to serve Manila from its Auckland hub but shelved those plans a few months later, citing “administrative delays”.