By Emmie V. Abadilla
In support of the national campaign targeting two million annual Chinese tourist arrivals, flag carrier Philippine Airlines is ramping up operations to China by increasing flight frequency on existing routes and opening up new destinations in the mainland.
On March 25, PAL will increase its flights between the Philippines and Greater China from the current 99 times weekly to 103 times weekly.
The spike is due to the shift to DAILY Manila – Jinjiang and Manila – Guangzhou (Canton) services from the current five times weekly on each route.
The daily Manila – Jinjiang service – PR356 – leaves Manila at 11 a.m. and arrives in Jinjiang at 1:40 p.m.; flight PR357 departs Jinjiang at 2:30 p.m. and touches down in Manila at 4:40 p.m.
The daily Manila -Guangzhou service – PR382 – departs Manila at 2:30 a.m. and touches down in Guangzhou at 5 a.m.; PR383 leaves Guangzhou at 6:30 a.m. and arrives in Manila at 8:30 a.m.
PAL’s multiple flights from various Chinese cities were a major factor in the huge 43.33% increase in the Philippines’ tourist arrivals from mainland China, a final total of 968,447 visitors for 2017.
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan together contributed several hundred thousand more tourists, for a combined total of 1.33 million tourists hailing from the Greater China region.
These numbers are expected to continue surging in 2018 as PAL further expands flights in the coming months from new Chinese cities.
These include the industrial mega-city of Tianjin in northern China, the commercial trading center of Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta, and the southern city of Nanning that hosts the annual China-ASEAN Expo.
Tianjin, Shenzhen and Nanning boast a combined population of 33.8 million residents and thus represent rich sources for Philippine tourism.
PAL’s 2018 plans include direct air links to Palawan (Puerto Princesa) from both Tianjin and Shenzhen, and to Boracay (via Kalibo) from both Shenzhen and Nanning.
PAL’s other routes to Greater China include: Manila – Beijing (6 weekly), Manila – Hong Kong (35 weekly), Manila – Macau (5 weekly), Manila – Shanghai Pudong (7 weekly), Manila – Xiamen (7 weekly), Cebu – Beijing (once weekly), Kalibo – Beijing (thrice weekly), Kalibo – Chengdu (4weekly), Kalibo – Nanjing (thrice weekly), Kalibo – Shanghai Pudong (thrice weekly) and Kalibo – Hangzhou (thrice weekly).