Why United Is Unhappy With Philippines Airlines’ Growth In The US

United Airlines is looking to delay Philippine Airlines’ plans to expand to Seattle from Manila. Flights operated by the Philippines’ flag carrier are set to be added in May, but United wants to have its own flights to the Philippine capital secured first.

United Airlines Takeoff
United wants its own Manila additions to take off before Philippines Airlines’ plans get underway. Photo: United Airlines

Big request   

The Points Guy reports that United wants the United States Department of Transportation to defer the approval of Philippines Airlines’ proposal. The Pasay City-headquartered firm plans to add three weekly flights to the Pacific coast from Manila on its Airbus A350 aircraft.

According to a filing made on Monday, United is keen for the government body to hit pause on the move until United can receive the needed slots for its own operations.

The airline is planning to add a second daily flight to Manila from the US organized territory of Guam. The operator shared that these plans have previously been blocked by Manila Airport.

Philippines Airlines Aircraft
Philippines Airlines is also planning to launch extra flights to Los Angeles. Photo: Philippines Airlines

Priorities in place

Since the US and the Philippines don’t have an open skies agreement, the regulator has to approve Philippines Airlines’ proposal. With the planned flights landing in a key US airport, United feels that it is beneficial for the country to have the Chicago-based carrier’s expansion plans considered.

“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, as reported by The Points Guy.

There has been an increase in demand for flights to Manila from the US. In 2018, there were less than five flights each day from to the country. However, last year, this number jumped to over six flights per day.

JFK and San Francisco are the two airports that have seen the greatest spikes. However, there is a sizeable population of Filipino Americans in Washington. Additionally, the state is across the Pacific. Therefore, there is room for extra capacity on this route.

The Manila metropolitan area holds a population of around 13 million people. Therefore, United will be keen to serve these potential passengers on flights to the US. Photo: Anton Zelenov via Wikimedia Commons

Matching demand

Currently, United serves nine flights a week to Manila. However, none of these are from US mainland. There is a daily flight from Guam and a twice-weekly operation from the fellow Pacific island of Palau.

According to Travel Weekly Asia, there was a 15 percent growth in foreign arrivals to the Philippines last year. Altogether, around eight million travelers from other countries visited the nation in 2019.

With this upward trend of visits, it is no surprise as to why carriers are keen to increase flights from to and from the country’s capital city. United has been busy expanding at other international airports as of late and it will be eager to add more slots at Manila. 

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on these reports that it seeks to block Philippine Airlines’ new Seattle flight. We will update the article with any further announcements.

Do you think that the United States Department of Transportation should consider United Airlines’ request? Let us know what you think in the comment section.