Thanks to some heavy demand for regional flights, Perth Airport exceeded 2019 traffic in February and yesterday welcomed its first Manila flight.

Perth Airport Philippine Airlines A321neo 1st flight
Perth Airport

Not many of the world’s airports have fully recovered to 100% of pre-pandemic traffic, but Australia’s Perth Airport edged ahead of the magic number last month. It handled 1.09 million passengers in February, around 2% ahead of the 1.07 million that passed through the airport in February 2019.

Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, sits on the Indian Ocean in the southwest corner of Australia. From Perth Airport (PER), aircraft of all shapes and sizes fan out in every direction, including the Qantas QF9 nonstop flight to London, the forerunner for Project Sunrise.

Western Australia has some of Australia’s largest resource developments, meaning Perth Airport is alive with fly-in and fly-out (FIFO) workers from around the country. In fact, the recovery in the mining sector has driven the airport back to pre-COVID levels.

A brand-new international service

Added to that are the return of many international services and the opening of new ones. Yesterday, Perth welcomed the first-ever nonstop flight from Manila, a service initially scheduled to commence in March 2020. Philippine Airlines flight PR223 inaugurated the new service, with the airline’s president and chief operating officer, Captain Stanley Ng, piloting the aircraft to Perth.

Perth Airport Philippine Airlines 1st flight airside 1

Photo: Perth Airport

According to, an Airbus A321neo, registration RP-C9936 and MSN 8619, operated the 6:26 hour flight from Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) and landed at 06:36. It had a short stay before departing Perth at 08:51 and getting back in Manila at 15:49.

The Airbus A321neo has 168 seats, configured in a two-class layout of 12 fully flat business class seats and 156 economy seats. The service will operate three times weekly on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, injecting more than 52,000 seats into the market annually.

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PR223 Manila - Perth 280323

Perth Airport Acting CEO Kate Holsgrove said the new international service is a big win for WA business, the tourism and education sectors and exporters. She added:

“This will be a popular route and we expect strong two-way passenger numbers. It will give a real boost to our State’s effort to attract more international students and tourists to WA. It’s also going to be easier for Western Australian’s to experience the 7,000-plus islands and amazing beaches on offer in the Philippines.”

Getting ahead of COVID in Perth

While international traffic is part of Perth’s recovery, it is still around 85% of pre-pandemic numbers. In February, 276,000 international passengers passed through the airport, compared to 325,000 in February 2019. The comparable domestic passenger figures were 395,300 this year compared to 427,000 in 2019, a healthier 93% recovery from pre-COVID traffic.

Rex Saab 340s

Photo: Steve Worner/Shutterstock

The primary driver has been in the regional and resources sector, which is a whopping 31% ahead of 2019. In February, 417,000 people traveled on regional and resource sector flights, compared to 317,000 in February 2019. A quick scan of the airport’s departures board lists regional flights operated by Regional Express (Rex), Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Airnorth.

On the international side, some carriers operating in Perth include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, AirAsia X, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Batik Air, Jetstar and now Philippine Airlines.

Have you been part of Perth Airports recovery? Let us know in the comments.


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