Chinese Lured by Beaches Are Philippine Airlines' Next Target

(Bloomberg) -- The sandy shores of the Philippines will soon be within easier reach of Chinese tourists looking for a summer vacation spot.

Philippine Airlines Inc. plans to begin flights this year to secondary cities in China, which may include Nanning, Haikou, Hangzhou and Chengdu, where tourists rent planes to go to the island resorts of Boracay, Palawan and Cebu, President Jaime Bautista said in an interview Tuesday. The airline, owned by billionaire Lucio Tan, also intends to boost the frequency of its Manila-Shanghai route.

Bautista said the company’s purchase of Airbus A321neos has enabled the expanded plan for China, as smaller and more efficient planes allow the airline to cover more destinations without sacrificing capacity. Philippine Airlines started direct flights from Manila to Brisbane, Australia, and will begin a route to Sapporo, Japan, following the delivery of the first two of six Airbus A321neos this year.

Chinese tourists who now want to visit the islands must fly from a major city like Beijing or Shanghai to Clark or Manila, and then take another plane to the resorts. Philippine Airlines will increase the frequency of its Manila-Shanghai flights to 10 times a week from daily starting July 27.

China is the fastest-growing travel market for the Philippines. The national carrier flew about 700,000 passengers from the mainland in 2017, and expects an increase of about 50 percent this year, Sales Vice President Ryan Uy said in an email.

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