United will notch a first with San Francisco-Philippines service

United Airlines will become the first U.S. carrier to fly between the continental U.S. and the Philippines in October. 

The new route, serving Manila from San Francisco, will be part of the carrier’s continued transpacific buildup next winter as it adds or resumes three routes. 

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United currently serves Manila from the U.S. territory of Guam as well as from the Micronesian country of Palau. Its daily service from San Francisco will launch on Oct. 29 using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. 

United will compete against Philippine Airlines on that route. Philippine also serves the U.S. destinations of Los Angeles, New York JFK, Honolulu and Guam from Manila. 

United senior vice president of global network Patrick Quayle said the carrier had been trying for several years to add Manila service from the continental U.S. but has struggled to obtain arrival and departure slots at Manila Airport. 

United had already implemented a substantial buildup across the Pacific this year, and excluding China, its transpacific network will be 40% larger than 2019 next winter, Quayle said. United’s China flying continues to be just a small fraction of what it was pre-Covid due to sharp governmental restrictions. 

In addition to San Francisco-Manila, United will add two other Asian routes ahead of winter: Los Angeles-Hong Kong and Los Angeles-Tokyo Narita. The Hong Kong route will augment United’s San Francisco-Hong Kong offering, while Narita will be the second Tokyo airport United services from Los Angeles, joining Haneda. 

Quayle said demand across the Pacific, excluding China, is robust.

“In general, the Pacific is as strong, if not stronger, than the Atlantic today,” he said.

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