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Does UA really want to expand operations at MNL?

Does UA really want to expand operations at MNL?

Old Nov 20, 19, 8:28 am
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Does UA really want to expand operations at MNL?

According to LiveandLet'sFly (and Flight Global):

Per Flight Global, what United is perturbed about is that it has been unable to expand in Manila by being denied ďslots and other airport infrastructure necessary for its additional flight plans.Ē
While United is not opposed in principle to APCís requested authority, United objects to the application to the extent it seeks benefits that are currently being denied to United and its customer baseÖ

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.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by NYC2SGN View Post
According to LiveandLet'sFly (and Flight Global):
This doesn't really surprise me. UA's current service there is very limited and offers few connections to the rest of its network.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 8:57 am
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
This doesn't really surprise me. UA's current service there is very limited and offers few connections to the rest of its network.
So... you think they want to add SFO-MNL?
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Old Nov 20, 19, 9:12 am
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I hope it is because UA wants to add a SFO-MNL flight (the 787-10 seems like the perfect aircraft for the mission with its configuration), but the more likely answer is that UA wants a second daily MNL-GUM flight.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by NYC2SGN View Post
So... you think they want to add SFO-MNL?
That's the logical thing to do, since they no longer operate a mini-hub in NRT. A 787 flight to SFO links Manila up with the rest of the network, while GUM-MNL is an orphan route.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by NYC2SGN View Post
So... you think they want to add SFO-MNL?
I do not, although I wish that they would.

This news is very difficult to take at face value. I suspect it is more about UA trying to protect its market position on MNL-GUM than anything else. (Guam has a large Filipino population). After all, UA cancelled the morning GUM-MNL flight in the wake of the tension with North Korea. They likely could have used those slots (I think it was 3x weekly) for MNL-SFO (Iím not 100% sure that the arrival time at MNL would have worked, but maybe they could have swapped with somebody).

The primary reason that no US carriers operate from the US mainland to Manila is that Philippine Airlines is happy to sell seats at rock-bottom prices on the likely target routes already (SFO-MNL, LAX-MNL, NYC-MNL).

Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
That's the logical thing to do, since they no longer operate a mini-hub in NRT. A 787 flight to SFO links Manila up with the rest of the network, while GUM-MNL is an orphan route.
GUM is a UA hub.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 10:53 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I do not, although I wish that they would.

This news is very difficult to take at face value. I suspect it is more about UA trying to protect its market position on MNL-GUM than anything else. (Guam has a large Filipino population). After all, UA cancelled the morning GUM-MNL flight in the wake of the tension with North Korea. They likely could have used those slots (I think it was 3x weekly) for MNL-SFO (Iím not 100% sure that the arrival time at MNL would have worked, but maybe they could have swapped with somebody).

The primary reason that no US carriers operate from the US mainland to Manila is that Philippine Airlines is happy to sell seats at rock-bottom prices on the likely target routes already (SFO-MNL, LAX-MNL, NYC-MNL).


GUM is a UA hub.
It's not a hub in the relevant sense. It's a hub for flights to some Pacific Island destinations. Which is fine, but that's basically almost a separate airline from the rest of UA. If Guam were a real hub, they'd have flights from there to their US hubs, plus perhaps even some flights to non-hub major cities like Seattle.

GUM-MNL is basically an almost useless flight for a typical UA flyer.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 12:13 pm
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The bilateral agreement between the US and the Philippines is highly restrictive. I'll go back and check to see if there have been any updates, but it strictly limits routes, gauge and frequency.

For its MNL-GUM/ROR service, United currently uses the legacy Continental/Air Micronesia route authority, which is limited to serving the Philippines from Guam, Saipan and Palau. This also included now-discontinued routes of MNL-SPN and GUM-CEB. United historically served MNL (acquired from PA) from Japan as part of a one-stop service from the USA, but that authority may have been surrendered. Consequently, United might not hold the rights to serve a nonstop widebody route to the USA.
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Last edited by EWR764; Nov 20, 19 at 12:18 pm
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Old Nov 20, 19, 4:44 pm
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Interesting but I agree this is about Guam. I doubt UA will fly mainland to MNL; as others have said there probably isnít enough premium to support a direct flight for UA. PAL will beat them on price every time but maybe thereís enough loyal star flyers? The ANA NRT-MNL flight felt like it was at least half UA connections if not more; of course this is only anecdotal and one flight.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 5:48 pm
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This blog post sheds some light on what is going on. The Exciting Centennial of Philippine Aviation: PAA To Fly Guam It is about Guam. The bilateral allows three carriers from each country. The US three are Delta, United, and Hawaiian. The Philippines three are PAL, PAL Express and Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific is ending flights in December. PAL Express has been dormant. Air Asia Philippines asked to take over PAL Express' authority in August. PAL Express then decided to start service and ask permission for a code share. United responded by complaining about not getting a second slot to MNL or other operational difficulties in flying to MNL.

On another note, the limitation of three carriers with the bilateral may have been one of the factors in Delta keeping one flight to MNL, along with the US Govt. contract and the lack of slots at MNL for KAL
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Old Nov 20, 19, 6:27 pm
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I just hope that GUM doesn't face any more reductions, already missing the GUM-HKG flight. I really like connecting through Guam, such a nice small airport with friendly staff.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 9:12 pm
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Originally Posted by EWR764 View Post
The bilateral agreement between the US and the Philippines is highly restrictive. I'll go back and check to see if there have been any updates, but it strictly limits routes, gauge and frequency.
I knew about the frequency limits, but I wasnít aware of gauge and route limits. Iíd be very surprised to learn that the US had ceded exclusive right to nonstop service to the mainland to PR, though.

Originally Posted by EWR764 View Post
For its MNL-GUM/ROR service, United currently uses the legacy Continental/Air Micronesia route authority, which is limited to serving the Philippines from Guam, Saipan and Palau. This also included now-discontinued routes of MNL-SPN and GUM-CEB. United historically served MNL (acquired from PA) from Japan as part of a one-stop service from the USA, but that authority may have been surrendered. Consequently, United might not hold the rights to serve a nonstop widebody route to the USA.
I donít know the details of the agreement, but I would hope that UA would have taken steps to keep the authority dormant rather than surrendering it entirely, assuming that was possible. (Generally, I donít think route authorities get yanked unless another airline complains).

Originally Posted by ROCUAflyer View Post
Interesting but I agree this is about Guam. I doubt UA will fly mainland to MNL; as others have said there probably isnít enough premium to support a direct flight for UA. PAL will beat them on price every time but maybe thereís enough loyal star flyers? The ANA NRT-MNL flight felt like it was at least half UA connections if not more; of course this is only anecdotal and one flight.
Flying PR isnít exactly the most wonderful experience in the world; I suspect that UA could gain market share head-to-head if prices were similar, but Iím not sure that UA would want to enter the market if its best case scenario is matching PRís prices.

UA, prove me wrong...
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Old Nov 20, 19, 10:02 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I knew about the frequency limits, but I wasnít aware of gauge and route limits. Iíd be very surprised to learn that the US had ceded exclusive right to nonstop service to the mainland to PR, though.


I donít know the details of the agreement, but I would hope that UA would have taken steps to keep the authority dormant rather than surrendering it entirely, assuming that was possible. (Generally, I donít think route authorities get yanked unless another airline complains).


Flying PR isnít exactly the most wonderful experience in the world; I suspect that UA could gain market share head-to-head if prices were similar, but Iím not sure that UA would want to enter the market if its best case scenario is matching PRís prices.

UA, prove me wrong...
Are the passengers flying to MNL pretty price sensitive (leisure v. business travel)? I haven't flown UA transpacific, but you're right in that PR's hard product isn't the very competitive, even in J. I know a lot of my friends end up flying PAL just because of their direct flights.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by jptan View Post
Are the passengers flying to MNL pretty price sensitive (leisure v. business travel)? I haven't flown UA transpacific, but you're right in that PR's hard product isn't the very competitive, even in J. I know a lot of my friends end up flying PAL just because of their direct flights.
I think the service is highly bifurcated. Many US companies have call centres in the Philippines, so you get quite a bit of business travel from people supervising those operations. (I have a buddy in such a role - he likes the ANA Lounge at Narita, but wishes there was a direct UA flight from US mainland to MNL.) Most of the rest of the traffic is likely made up of Pinoy domestic workers in the US, who are extremely price sensitive.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by ROCUAflyer View Post
Interesting but I agree this is about Guam. I doubt UA will fly mainland to MNL; as others have said there probably isnít enough premium to support a direct flight for UA. PAL will beat them on price every time but maybe thereís enough loyal star flyers? The ANA NRT-MNL flight felt like it was at least half UA connections if not more; of course this is only anecdotal and one flight.
I took that flight 3 or 4 times and, yeah, seemed to have a fair number of UA-connecting pax. Always a bit tough to tell for sure, but with the mini-hub in NRT they were going to various US spots.

Assume that's dead with most flights to HND, unless NRT moves flights there too.
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