United Airlines and Philippines Airlines are escalating their fight over additional slots in both Seattle and Manila.
As I wrote about last fall, United Airlines has opposed Philippine Airlines’ further U.S. expansion, arguing that the U.S. should not grant Philippines Airlines more slots until it is awarded more slots in Manila.
United wants to increase service between Manila and Guam, but has been denied an extra slot. It now contends the U.S. should not grant Philippine Airlines a slot in Seattle until it is granted a slot in Manila.
“While United is not opposed in principle to APC’s requested authority, United objects to the application to the extent it seeks benefits that are currently being denied to United and its customer base…
While United has been unable to execute its Manila growth plans, Philippine carriers have increased capacity to the US.
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.”
Philippine Airlines argues that slots in Manila are handled by an Australian firm, not the Philippines government. Last week, it sharply shot back at United, arguing:
“The failure to timely grant this application would be tantamount to a violation of the bilateral air transport agreement.”
“It is in the public interest to grant the application for additional authority to expand service only when United is able to expand service as well.”
The Philippines and U.S. do not have an Open Skies agreement. Instead, they have a bilateral agreement that governs air service between the two nations. New routes are subject to government approval on an individual basis. Over the last year, Philippine Airlines has increased service to the U.S. by 29%. It now proposes new thrice-weekly service to Seattle utilizing its new A350-900 aircraft.
As a consumer, I want to see Philippine Airlines expand to Seattle whether United can add service to Manila or not. But United makes a valid point. Whoever controls the slots at Manila, it seems a large influx in service to the U.S. without even one additional flight to Manila is a bit lopsided.