The first ever chartered flight from Russia to Manila happened Sunday, October 27. The historical Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight left Vladivostok at 8:00 AM (Russian time) and arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 2 in Manila at around 9:30 AM.
The inaugural flight carried over 100 foreign tourists from Far East Russia and were welcomed with festivities. Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Banda Kawayan rendered Russian songs to add warmth to the tropical welcome.
The tourists were then ushered to the domestic flights terminal to their connecting flights to Cebu and Boracay after their four-and-a-half hour flight from Russia.
The next Vladivostok-Manila chartered flight will be on November 8 and will run until April 2014. The flights are possible with the partnership of PAL and Primorsky Agency of Aviation Companies TM Biletur, the biggest tour company in Far East Russia. In the Philippines, Uni-Orient Travel is the agency in-charge of assisting the Russian tourists for their vacation needs.
With the upcoming chartered flights, DOT is expecting a significant boost in Philippine tourism and the country strengthens ties with Russia. According to DOT, 21,736 Russian tourists visited the country from January to August 2013, accounting for a 32.53% increase from 2012.
“Russia is a priority market because it is seen to contribute to the 10 million target of international visitors by 2015,” said tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr.
PAL president Ramon Ang supports the country’s tourism endeavors with Russia and said, “Through this service, we hope to be able to serve this market and more importantly, help our government’s efforts to boost tourism,” Ang said.
Uni-Orient CEO Benito Techico recognizes that Far East Russia is a new territory for the Philippines but he has high hopes for the new-found partnership.
“We hope this will create a snowball effect which will eventually bring in more tourists to the Philippines,” he said.
The Russian tourists will fly back to Vladivostok via PAL on November 7, 11:00 PM Manila time.