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United seeks to block Philippine Airlines' new Seattle flight until it can expand in Manila

Feb. 12, 2020
2 min read
United Aircraft at Guam
United seeks to block Philippine Airlines' new Seattle flight until it can expand in Manila
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United Airlines wants to hit the pause button on Philippines Airlines' plan to add flights to Seattle until it can secure its own access for more flights to Manila.

The Chicago-based carrier wants the U.S. Department of Transportation to defer approving Philippines Airlines' request to add flights between Manila (MNL) and Seattle (SEA) in May, it said in a filing on Monday. United wants the regulator to hold off until it can secure the necessary slots and infrastructure it needs to add a second daily flight between Guam (GUM) and Manila.

The U.S. and Philippines do not have an open skies agreement, meaning the DOT must sign off on Philippines Airlines' proposed service to Seattle.

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"It is in the public interest to grant [Philippine Airlines'] application for additional authority to expand service only when United is able to expand service as well," United said.

The Star Alliance carrier said that its requests for the "slots and other airport infrastructure necessary" to add a second Guam flight have been denied by the Manila airport, even as Philippine Airlines has been able to add service to the U.S.

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The number of Philippine Airlines flights between Manila and the U.S. jumped by nearly a quarter to an average of more than six-per-day in 2019, up from less than five-per-day the year before, according to Cirium schedule data. New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO) saw the largest increases.

Related: Philippine Airlines to add new flights to Seattle, Los Angeles

The Manila-based carrier plans to offer three weekly flights between Manila and Seattle with an Airbus A350 starting in May.

United, by comparison, operates just nine flights a week to Manila: a daily flight from its Guam hub, and a twice-weekly flight from Palau (ROR), Cirium shows.

Philippines Airlines and United compete on the Guam-Manila route, according to the data.

Related: The 10 longest (and 10 shortest) United Airlines flights

Featured image by United Airlines Boeing 737s in Guam. Photo by Edward Russell, TPG.