United Airlines is already by far the strongest US airline across the Pacific, and the airline has today announced its latest expansion. In addition to a new Los Angeles to Hong Kong route, the airline is also launching a new San Francisco to Manila flight.
United Airlines adds transpacific flight to Manila
As of October 29, 2023, United Airlines will launch a new daily, year-round flight between San Francisco (SFO) and Manila (MNL). The flight will operate with the following schedule:
UA191 San Francisco to Manila departing 12:35AM arriving 6:50AM (+1 day)
UA190 Manila to San Francisco departing 9:55AM arriving 7:20AM
The 6,987-mile flight is blocked at 15hr15min westbound and 12hr25min eastbound (those winds are strong!). United will use its largest plane for the route, which is a Boeing 777-300ER. That jet is configured with 350 seats, including 60 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, 62 extra legroom economy seats, and 204 economy class seats.
While this will be United’s first long haul flight to the Philippines, it won’t be the carrier’s first route to the country. United also flies to Manila from both Guam (GUM) and Palau (ROR).
Will United Airlines succeed with its new Manila route?
The Philippines is a tricky long haul aviation market. The country has a large population (over 110 million), but the challenge is that fares to and from the Philippines tend to be pretty low yield.
Currently Philippine Airlines dominates the long haul transpacific market to and from Manila. The carrier’s service to the United States and Canada includes flights to Guam, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. Philippine Airlines is a bit of an oddball airline, as the airline doesn’t belong to any major alliance, and has fairly limited partnerships in North America, aside from basic interline agreements.
United Airlines has a huge advantage in terms of connectivity in North America, given the size of the carrier’s San Francisco hub. United will have no issues filling these flights, the question is what the yields will be like. I have to imagine that cargo is a big motivator for this route, given that United is immediately using its largest plane.
While United is by far the most adventurous of the “big three” US carriers when it comes to adding long haul flights, the airline rarely cancels new routes, so it has a good track record, and I’m sure there’s some reason United is jumping in the market now.
I love seeing United’s long haul growth. During the best of times, it seems like a great strategy. During the worst of times (whether it’s a major economic downturn or very high oil prices), well… good luck.
As of October 2023, United Airlines will launch a new daily nonstop flight between San Francisco and Manila. This complements United’s two short haul flights to Manila, and is also the only long haul service to Manila by a US airline. United’s network both across the Atlantic and Pacific is nothing short of amazing.
What do you make of United launching San Francisco to Manila flights?