PAL adds 12 new routes: Batanes, China, Australia, MidEast
Philippine Airlines (PAL) announces 12 new destinations in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, China, Australia and the Middle East in its growing route network

NETWORK EXPANSION. Philippine Airlines (PAL) announces new flights to international destinations. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Legacy carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is on a roll.

In a kick-off ceremony on Friday, April 26, PAL announced 12 new destinations in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, China, Australia and the Middle East in its growing route network. 

This is double the 6 routes it previously announced in March.

The following new routes will be operated from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila using Boeing 777 aircraft:

  • Basco, Batanes in northern tip of the Philippines, starting May 1 (operated by PAL Express) 
  • Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, starting May 2
  • Darwin, Brisbane and Perth (Australia), June 1
  • Guangzhou (China), June 2
  • Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, starting Oct. 1; and Dubai, by Nov. 1
  • Doha in Qatar, starting Nov. 1 
  • Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam in Saudi Arabia, starring Dec. 1

PAL president Ramon Ang said the new routes are meant to address the needs of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), as well as that of the tourism market, which the Philippines is banking on as a new leg for economic growth.

Their new domestic route to Batanes, however, is to cater to the growing tourism market there.

PAL also will start introducing on board wifi services to the some of these new flights June onwards. By August, all their A330’s will have wifi.   

Middle East

In a statment, Ang highlighted PAL’s network in the Middle East, a region that hosts one of the biggest concentration of OFWs.  

With the opening of its Middle East gateways, “PAL would become the only Philippine carrier with the widest footprint in the region,” he said, citing the opening of “strategic gateways [to] allow greater connectivity to more destinations in the region through PAL’s interline partners.”

With the wider route network, Ang said foreign tourists and business travelers can fly to Manila, enjoy the Philippines for a few days, or connect directly to PAL’s other Asian, Australian and North American destinations.

PAL president Ramon Ang at the launch of PALs new routes. Photo by Aya Lowe/Rappler

Aggressive expansion

The management of PAL, which changed hands from tycoon Lucio Tan to diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. in April 2012, has been bullish in expanding its route network.

In November 2012, PAL’s new management launched non-stop flights to Toronto, Canada.

With the network expansion came the multi-billion-dollar aircraft deals, pitting global aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, against each other. High level government officials of the United Kingdom and France have visited the Philippines, as did top executives of Boeing, to seal aircraft orders.  

For its long-haul flights, PAL has lined up the delivery of wide-bodied Airbus A330 and Boeing 777s this 2013. 

Amid tight competition in the Philippine airline industry, PAL’s aggressive route expansion is largely focused on the international market

“The PAL Group is increasing its focus on the international market following its decision to exit the budget end of the market, which dominates domestic travel in the Philippines as the local population is extremely price conscious,” think tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) had noted in its April 4 report.

However, according to CAPA, competition will continue to heat up as local budget airlines, such as Cebu Pacific, are making plans for international expansion in both the medium and long-haul market.

A homegrown budget carrier, Cebu Pacific had announced that it will be launching long-haul destinations to Australia, the Middle East, parts of Europe and the US by mid-2013  It also launched its first long haul destination to Dubai.

PAL’s current network, operated with its sister airline, PAL Express, consists of 32 domestic and 28 international points. –