Something historic is happening in the Philippines. Its flag-carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) is to resume the first direct link between the UK and the Philippines, in more than a decade.
According to PAL, it will fly direct between Heathrow and Manila five times a week beginning November 4, “providing the fastest travel to Manila (average 12.5 hours) as well as top Philippine tourist spots and other destinations in Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Australia.” The move has been around five years in the making and the airline has expressed a wish to move to daily flights subject to other slots becoming available, PAL said.
The Philippine Airlines flight departs PR0721 from LHR Terminal 4 at 5:15 pm and arrives at NAIA Terminal 2 the following day at 1:15 pm. The return flight PR0720 departs Manila at 8:20 am and arrives at London on the same day at 2:15 pm.
PAL said it has chosen Heathrow over other UK airports, despite them having lower landing charges and claiming to be a viable alternative to Heathrow for new routes to “emerging markets.”
Heathrow will be the Philippine flag carriers first European destination since flights to Europe were discontinued in 1998. Speaking in the Philippines where he was meeting PAL executives, UK Trade and Investment Minister, Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint said: “I’m delighted to celebrate a very concrete example of the growing ties between our two countries, that being the reestablishment by Philippine Airlines of direct flights between Manila and London for the first time in over a decade. I am confident that these flights will greatly enhance the relationship between the UK and the Philippines.”
The move by Philippine Airlines is being praised by Heathrow Airport’s boss, Colin Matthews. “I’m delighted to welcome the newest member of Heathrow’s airlines. Because Heathrow is full, it’s difficult to find slots for new arrivals and this has taken years of negotiation,” Colins said. “Whilst it’s a success story for Heathrow and the UK, linking British businesses to trading opportunities in a key emerging market, it also shows the challenge of putting these links in place. Without a larger hub airport, the UK can expect to fall behind in the global race for trade, jobs and economic growth.”
The Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) categorizes the UK market as one of its “emerging markets,” which “will be the engines of world growth in coming decades.” PDOT said, “Over the next ten years, the IMF forecasts that the eight largest emerging markets will account for more than half of global GDP growth. We know businesses trade up to twenty times more with countries they have direct links to so the new route will help to boost UK trade. According to the IMF, the Philippines have an economy worth $284bn, with GDP expected to rise to $451 bn by 2018.”
Last year, one third of the estimated 349,000 European visitors to the Philippines came from the UK. In the first half of 2013, arrivals from UK reached 60,234.