Air New Zealand has announced it will fly direct to the capital of the Philippines, Manila, starting from December.

The latest expansion to its Pacific Rim network will see the year round service operate three times a week using a Boeing 767-300 aircraft, with a flight time of 10 and a half hours each way.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said the airline expects the service to be popular at both ends of the route.

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"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.

Luxon said the Filipino population in New Zealand has more than tripled since 2001 and is now the third largest Asian ethnic group, with around 40,000 Filipinos resident in New Zealand.

"The number of visitors from the Philippines is also continuing to grow rapidly, up more than 20 percent in the past year alone so we're anticipating that demand for this service will be steady in both directions."

The addition of direct flights to Manila brings the total number of Air New Zealand's international destinations to 32.

Late last year Philippine Airlines' began its four times-a-week service to Auckland from Manila.

The total flight time is estimated between 11 hours and 12 hours, including the one-hour Cairns stopover, just an hour longer than Air New Zealand's proposed flight.

Auckland Airport's general manager of aeronautical commercial Norris Carter said the new service provides a great boost for New Zealand's tourism industry.

"New Zealand has experienced solid tourism growth from the Philippines in recent years and the addition of Air New Zealand services on the route will help to further grow this important emerging tourism market," Carter said.


Visitor arrivals from the Philippines have increased 19 per cent annually over the last three years, with holidaying visitors one of the main driving factors for that growth. Kiwi travellers visiting the Philippines has been growing at 10 per cent per year over the same period, he said.

"Auckland Airport estimates the new Air New Zealand service to Manila will annually deliver an additional 71,800 seats between New Zealand and the Philippines, and contribute $29 million in tourism spend to the New Zealand economy every year.

"That is great news for New Zealand, especially for our tourism industry."

Commercial director at House of Travel Brent Thomas said the Philippines was just inside the top 20 as a destination for New Zealanders.