MANILA, Philippines – Legacy carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will soon fly to more long-haul destinations, its top official announced.
“In the future, PAL will fly nonstop to Toronto, Paris and New York cities,” PAL president Ramon Ang announced on Monday, July 23.
Ang, PAL Holding’s Michael Tan, and PAL unit Airphil Express’ president Inigo Zobel held a toast for the arrival of newest PAL aircraft Boeing 777-300ER in Makati City.
PAL showed its planned long-haul destinations for the future with the help of the dance troupe El Gamma Penumbra.
Ang said PAL will save $20 million every year with each new aircraft.
Currently, PAL flies to Vancouver in west Canada and 3 west coast US cities: Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
It has previously stopped flying to Europe.
These plans face regulatory challenges, however.
No Philippine carriers are allowed to mount new flights to any US destinations on top of exisiting ones since the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAA) has yet to lift its Category 2 rating on its Philippine counterpart.
The Category 2 was imposed on local regulatory body, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), for failing to meet international aviation safety standards.
The European Union followed FAA’s verdict on CAAP and banned Philippine carriers from mounting flights to any European destinations, too.
Ang said, “The restriction to go to New York is only because of Category 2… I believe the Philippine government and CAAP is doing everything it can to lift that so we are very confident they will do that soon.”
Early this 2012, the now-retired airline officials said PAL has 6 new planes due for delivery this year — 4 Airbus A320s and two Boeing 777s — to increase its current fleet of 36.
A new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from the Seattle arrived this month — the third of the planned 6 new Boeing 777s scheduled for delivery until 2013.
It flew to Cebu last June 23 and would likely be utilized for flights to Vancouver in Canada, Japan and Hong Kong in the future.
Below is the 5-year schedule of delivery for new Boeing aircraft of PAL:
- November 2009 (arrived)
- January 2010 (arrived)
- June 2012 (just arrived)
- April 2013 (scheduled)
- November 2013 (scheduled)
This is the current fleet of the carrier:
|3||Boeing 777-300ER||370 passengers|
|5||Boeing 747-400||391 to 427 pax|
|4||Airbus A340-300||264 pax|
|8||Airbus A330-300||302 pax|
|15||Airbus A320-200||150 to 156 pax|
|4||Airbus 319-100||134 pax|
PAL is undergoing an at least $500 million-worth fleet modernization program that involves replacing old aircraft nearing the end of their economic lives with newer ones that are more fuel efficient.
The leaders of San Miguel Corp, the conglomerate that acquired a 49% and controlling stake in PAL’s parent firm last April, said they will be “evaluating the viability of refleeting PAL adding that a masterplan is in the works to lower the airline’s operating cost.
At the recent annual meeting of San Miguel shareholders, Ang, who is also San Miguel president, said they are in talks with aircraft manufacturers since PAL plans to acquire 100 aircraft in the next 5 to 7 years.
Previous to the entry of San Miguel in PAL, legacy airline has embarked on a 5-year refleeting and modernization program, which could benefit from a new investor with deep pockets or access to one.
The San Miguel officials also said they are eyeing a deal with a regional airline to take advantage of the lucrative trans-Pacific routes. – Rappler.com via Katherine Visconti