San Francisco-Manila route sparks optimism for United Airlines

UNITED AIRLINES is hopeful about travel demand in the Asia-Pacific region due to the expected interest in its San Francisco-Manila route, a company official said on Wednesday.

“We are very confident that this flight will perform exceptionally well,” said Walter Dias, United Airlines’ regional director for Greater China, Korea, and Southeast Asia sales, during a briefing.

“Our forecasts are grounded in the current economic conditions and observed travel trends within the region.”

Last month, the company unveiled plans to launch daily nonstop direct service between San Francisco and Manila, set to commence on Oct. 30.

The Manila-San Francisco flight will depart daily at 9:55 a.m. and arrive at 7:20 a.m., using a Boeing 777-300ER, the airline’s largest aircraft.

“This route has been a dream of mine for over 20 years. I’ve always envisioned a trans-continental flight connecting the US mainland to Manila,” said Mr. Dias.

He said that the new route would benefit the Philippines, as the San Francisco hub is anticipated to generate significant traffic to the country.

“The San Francisco hub stands as the largest US gateway into Asia. We facilitate over 200 flights daily to and from San Francisco, connecting to approximately 29 Asia-Pacific destinations,” he added.

The new route supplements the airline’s existing nonstop service to Manila from Guam and Palau, both of which, according to the airline, have seen strong demand.

“We’re very pleased with our load factor. Some days, it even surpasses our expectations,” United Airlines Country Manager for Sales-Philippines Pam C. Navarro said.

The San Francisco-Manila route is just one of the 15 planned Asia-Pacific destinations for the airline. The roster includes direct flights to New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Tahiti, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

For the upcoming winter period, United Airlines foresees its Asia-Pacific capacity being 50% larger than the combined capacity of the two other major US carriers in the region.

By 2032, the airline expects to receive delivery of 700 new narrow and wide-body aircraft, building upon its fleet of 770 aircraft at the end of 2022.

“Over the next eight or nine years, approximately 700 new aircraft will be integrated into our fleet. This is an exciting development,” said Mr. Dias. — Justine Irish D. Tabile