As Philippine Airlines ramps up service to Guam, United Airlines is asking U.S. regulators to proceed with caution.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) wants to offer PAL Express codeshare flights to Guam, effective March 5, 2020. Although PAL Express is owned by PAL, it operates as separate low-cost subsidiary, serving primarily domestic and shorthaul destinations. The codeshare would not result in more flights, but would make it easier for connecting passengers in the region to book PAL over United, which services Manila from its Guam hub nonstop and via Koror, Palau.
But this is not a simple story of United wanting to protect its own backyard. United is not even opposed to the new codeshare relationship…or so it says. Per Flight Global, what United is perturbed about is that it has been unable to expand in Manila by being denied “slots and other airport infrastructure necessary for its additional flight plans.”
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.
PAL has increased US-Manila flights by 25%, pushing seats up by 30% and available seat miles by 35%. This has been accomplished via PAL’s new A350 service to New York it began last year as well as increased capacity to Los Angeles and Manila.
Meanwhile, PAL says:
Approval will…enhance competition and improve the options available to travelers and shippers seeking service between the Philippines and Guam.
There’s no doubt that’s true. And now that United has moved to Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, it can no longer complain that its airport facilities are dilapidated (compared to Terminal 1).
Furthermore, MNL is already a highly-congested airport with slot restrictions. Guam, on the other hand, has plenty of room for growth. So maybe this is just about competition after all…
I’d love to see more United service to Manila. With increased service from United and better terminal facilities, Guam customers will receive better pricing and encounter a better overall travel experience. However, I’m not sure United’s argument stands up to the facts.
Am I missing anything?
image: lasta29 / Wikimedia Commons