PHILIPPINE Airlines has officially started flights between Manila and Port Moresby, with the first of its three return flights per week arriving in Port Moresby on 18 December.

Using a 156-seat Airbus 320, the three flights will take off every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the company said in an announcement.

Philippine Airlines chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said the company was expanding across Oceania with new flights launched recently to Cairns and Auckland.

“It allows Philippine Airlines to be of service to the travel needs of tourists and businessmen both from Manila and Papua New Guinea,” he said.

The flight to Port Moresby will provide an easy route for Filipinos living and working in Papua New Guinea to their native home, while also allowing residents of Papua New Guinea to discover and connect to PAL’s 30 domestic and 39 international destinations, the company said.

Records show that around 30,000 Filipino professionals are based in Papua New Guinea, though analysts say this number will rise.

The Manila-Port Moresby route of PAL starts at a rate of US$720 for economy class and US$2,132 for business class, while the Port Moresby- Manila route starts at K1,768 for economy class and K8,678 for business class.

PNG’s national carrier Air Niugini already has non-stop flights between the two cities, departing from Port Moresby departing four times per week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday using a Boeing 737.