Perth, Australia—The flag carrier of the Philippines boosted its presence in Australia, with the opening of a fourth gateway, after Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Philippine Airlines’ documented inaugural flight to Perth opens new opportunities not only for the airline, but also for leisure and business travelers from both Western Australia and the Philippines, who are now presented with an option for a nonstop, long-haul flight.
The carrier touched down at Perth Airport on March 27, 2023—a major feat after pandemic woes caused a bottoming out of major businesses in the past three years with airlines, along with the tourism sector, taking the hardest blow.
“This new route expands Philippine Airlines’ footprint in Australia, making PAL the largest airline operator offering the most routes from the Philippines to this very important region of the world,” said PAL president and chief executive Captain Stanley Ng.
“We’re excited to launch the first new international route of Philippine Airlines since the pandemic, a sure sign that the world is waking up to a new era of opportunity and growth. And we’re excited to have this chance to invite more Filipinos and other Asians to fly here and to have the holiday adventure of a lifetime, to pursue their educational goals, to do business in the economic heart of Western Australia,” he said.
Ng, a veteran pilot, commanded the maiden flight with a crew of three pilots and six flight attendants.
PAL is flying 7 hours direct to Perth thrice weekly on scheduled service every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The non-stop flights save travelers about four to six hours in travel time compared to the regular routes of other airlines that require a stopover and flight connections to Perth.
The nonstop flights to Manila allow for connections to Cebu, Davao and other Philippine business and resort destinations. Travelers from Perth may also fly onward via nonstop PAL flights to the US West Coast, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.
“This milestone journey celebrates the continuing recovery of our airline from the challenges of the pandemic. The flight symbolizes PAL’s determination to grow its network and conquer new markets,” Ng said.
PAL’s sustained penetration of global markets make up for lost opportunities during the pandemic, as it catches up with projected global airlines market growth of $762.65 billion by 2030, or 3.21 compounded annual growth rate from 2023 to 2030, according to Verified Market Research. The global airlines market value in 2022 was $551.32 billion.
“We are optimistic about the growth prospects for a Perth-Manila service. We hope to stimulate travel flows in both directions, so we may build up to more weekly flights eventually. We are now at 92 percent of our pre-pandemic flights. We have high hopes for the success of our Perth-Manila service. Indeed, Perth-Manila is the first international route we are introducing after the pandemic,” Ng said.
PAL is deploying a long-range Airbus—A321neo—that can accommodate 12 passengers in luxurious full-flat business class seats along with 156 Economy Class passengers. The roomy A321neo cabin has personal inflight entertainment screens in each seat with Wi-FI connection.
Already, the forward booking for Manila to Perth was “building up quite well” after a strong head start for the route, Ng said.
PR 224 Perth-Manila flight departs from Perth’s Terminal 1 International at 8:30 a.m. local time every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and lands in Manila at 3:50 p.m., while PR 223 Manila-Perth service departs from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 at 12:05 a.m., after midnight every Monday, Thursday and Saturday and arrives at Perth Airport at 7:15 a.m. on the same day.
Ng said PAL expects to serve, first and foremost, the 46,000 Filipinos working and residing in Western Australia where a good majority are working in the mining sector, while others are into healthcare. There is also a healthy population of Filipino students enrolled in various universities.
PAL will work with Tourism Western Australia authorities to support Perth-bound travelers from the Philippines, North America and other Asian countries, highlighting a wealth of unique adventure and business opportunities in Western Australia.
“Perth now joins Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in our Australian network—a milestone that underscores the growing trade relations and tourism activities that animate our two countries and help unite the Filipino and Australian people,” Ng said.
Australia is the Philippines’ third largest source of international visitors, with more than 89,000 Australians visiting the Philippines in 2022. In the first quarter of 2023, Australia ranked third in terms of travelers going to the Philippines. Latest data showed that the traveling Australians to the Philippines increased 4.76 percent to 63,468 visitors from 2021 arrivals.
With the new route, PAL offers a total of 20 weekly direct flights to all four gateways in Australia. The carrier’s market share for Manila to Australia reached 60 percent.
Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said the new route would inject more than 52,000 seats into the market each year, as Perth is also keen on welcoming more Filipinos especially students who would help boost the education sector in Western Australia.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, who led the send-off ceremony in NAIA, underscored the importance of the aviation sector and its expansion to accommodate the rapid demand for air travel.
“Aviation is one indispensable mode of modern transport. This Perth inaugural flight will start to reconnect the lost air bridges and re-ignite the once robust tourism and trade relations with other countries,” he said.
Australian ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu joined the inaugural flight, along with other notable people including businessmen and government officials.
Yu believed the new routes would serve to further strengthen the collaboration of WA and the Philippines in business and culture.
PAL said it would continue to reopen markets that were discontinued during the pandemic to expand and strengthen its foothold in the global airline market. It recently resumed regular flights to China via Shanghai-Manila-Shanghai route while serving two other Chinese mainland cities of Guangzhou and Xiamen.