The Philippines will soon get direct flights from New Zealand, operated by Air New Zealand. The kiwi airline will launch the non-stop flights in December in a bid to boost the tourism sector.

According to Air New Zealand sources, the Auckland-Manila service will fly three times a week using a bigger Boeing 767-300 aircraft and the flight time will be an average 10 hours each way.

There is already one service run by the Philippines Airlines to New Zealand, linking Manila and Auckland, via Cairns. It started in 2015 and flies four times a week but uses a smaller aircraft.

According to Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon, the Air NZ service will be the only non-stop flight connecting New Zealand and Manila.  Travelers will save an average two and a half hours in flight time, according to a Press Release. 

“As the only non-stop service between New Zealand and the Philippines, our flight will be quicker and more convenient for travellers than the fastest current option which flies indirect, potentially saving up to two and a half hours each way,” Luxon said.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges also highlighted the big potential of the service as a non-stop flight.

With Manila added to its service map, the total number of Air New Zealand’s international destinations will go up to 32. The sale of tickets will start from June, subject to government approvals.

Explaining the spurting demand in the Philippines sector, Luxon noted that the Filipino population in New Zealand has trebled since 2001.  The Filipinos has become the third largest Asian ethnic group in the country; they are numbering around 40,000.

Auckland Airport’s aeronautical commercial general manager, Norris Carter said New Zealand bound visitors from the Philippines had grown an average 19 percent each year for the past three years.

The Auckland airport estimates the Philippines service will create an additional 71,800 seats each year and contribute NZ $29 million (AU$26 million) to the New Zealand economy as annual tourism expenditure.

Flight Centre NZ General Manager Sean Berenson noted  that the Philippines has emerged as a hot tourism destination for Kiwis in recent years as a new choice beyond the traditional destinations like Thailand and Bali.

Aviation analysts noted that the Philippine service will be the second South East Asian destination for Air New Zealand in recent months. In November 2015, it announced direct flights between Auckland –Vietnam, from the June 2016 reports Stuff.Co.Nz.