Philippine Airlines has begun non-stop services between Manila and Auckland using an Airbus A340.

The airline has upgauged from an A320 which for the past two years has been flying via Cairns to Philippines.

The new service landed 15 minutes early, at 1.50pm today.

While frequency has dropped from four to three flights a week, the bigger plane, which landed this afternoon, will add about 14,000 seats to the route.


Auckland Airport says the 22 per cent increase in seat capacity could add about $13.6 million to the New Zealand economy.

Philippine Airlines' vice-president of corporate communications, Jose Perez, said when the company started first flying here it had ambitions to use a bigger aircraft on the route when it became available and market conditions allowed.

''It is part of a natural evolution,'' he said.

The route had been a ''big bet'' for the airline but the performance had been encouraging.

There was a fairly even split of northbound and southbound traffic with the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market strong.

He said that more New Zealanders were visiting the Philippines.

In the last full year about 24,000 Kiwi tourists flew to the Philippines and this had grown 30 per cent in the first six months of this year.

The four-engine A340 has 254 seats but Perez said the airline hoped to introduce a newer, more efficient twin-engine A330 to the route within a year.

The airline has 15 of these and uses them on flights to Australia.


Philippine Airlines is growing with two new Boeing 777-300s and six A350-900XWBs due for delivery during the next two years.

He said the airline was expanding its international network ''incrementally''.

Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport's general manager aeronautical commercial, said introducing a larger aircraft on the route would allow for an additional 14 tonnes of cargo capacity per flight.

In the year ended March, New Zealand exported $468m of dairy products to the Philippines, making it the eighth-largest market for dairy exports.