Sunday, December 14, 2014

Turkish Airlines Launches Istanbul to Manila Service in March

Filipinos now have another direct connection to Europe. Less than one month after a new air services agreement was established between Turkey and the Philippines, Turkish Airlines has revealed that it will begin non-stop flights between Istanbul Ataturk and Manila three times weekly beginning on March 30, 2015.

turkish airlines manila flights
Image Source: Wikimedia
Earlier this year, Turkish Airlines expressed a strong interest in launching non-stop service to Manila. The Government of Turkey has long expressed an interest in strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations through the development of tourism, trade, and investment. 

According to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the new air agreement was just a first step in developing ties to overcome the geographical distance between the two countries. "Turkish Airlines wants to fly every day to Manila," said Davutoğlu. But for now, the recently established air agreement restricts the European carrier to just three weekly flights. 

Turkish Airlines has been trying to serve Manila since 2011, but was unable to without revisions to the previous air services agreement. The majority of opposition to a new agreement came from local carriers that have been trying to block the Turkish flag carrier from offering daily service due to the competitive threat it poses. It currently remains unclear if Turkish Airlines plans to codeshare with Philippine Airlines.

turkish airlines manila flights
Image Source: Travel First
The new flights will be operated by a Turkish Airlines Airbus A340-300 aircraft configured with 34 seats in Business Class and 236 seats in Economy. The flights will depart every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. 

turkish airlines manila flights
Image Source: Flickr
The Turkish Airlines Business Class seat features a 60 to 77 inch seat pitch with a width of 21 inches. The angled-flat seats recline up to 159 degrees.

turkish airlines manila flights
Image Source: Navjot Singh
The Turkish Airlines Economy Class seat features a 33 to 34 inch seat pitch with a width of 17 to 18 inches. They recline up to six inches in a two-four-two abreast configuration aboard the A340. 

turkish airlines manila flights
Image Source: Wikimedia
All seats on board the aircraft feature Audio and Video on Demand with personal television screens that can play more than 250 albums, 30 movies, 40 short films, and games. However, power ports are only available in Business Class. 

Flight TK084 will depart Istanbul Ataturk at 1:00am and arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila at 6:00pm. The return flight, TK085, departs Manila at 8:50pm, and arrives back in Istanbul at 5:05am the following day. It remains unclear which terminal Turkish Airlines will use at the airport in Manila. 

Turkish Airlines recently opened a ticketing office in Manila in an effort to attract Turkish businessmen and Filipino tourists. There are presently 35,000 passengers travelling annually between the Philippines and Turkey. However, Turkish Airlines plans to take a larger share of the overseas Filipino worker market, hoping to capture much of the European bound traffic. This will put the Turkish carrier in direct competition with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the Gulf carriers, and Philippine Airlines, which launched flights to London last year. 

It should come as no surprise that local carriers in the Philippines have been objecting to the entry of Turkish Airlines into the local market. The Turkish flag carrier is no ordinary competitor having recently been ranked the Best Airline in Europe at the 2014 World Airline Awards and the 5th Best Airline in the World. It is presently ranked as a Four-Star Airline by Skytrax.

In addition to providing top-notch quality and service, the new Manila to Istanbul route will provide European bound passengers access to the Star Alliance network and connections to more than 200 destinations worldwide including all major cities in Europe through Turkish Airlines' Istanbul hub. The entry of Turkish Airlines adds yet another competitive threat for Philippine Airlines that has been trying to re-establish its footprint in Europe.

Philippine Airlines to Carry Pope Francis in January, Travel Disruptions Expected

As Philippine officials continue to prepare for the arrival of Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics and the head of state for the Vatican, Philippine Airlines will be making special preparations to welcome the popular church leader aboard one of its own aircraft when the Pontiff travels from Manila to Tacloban in January.

pope francis philippines
Image Source: New York Post
When the Pope travels, it is customary for the Pope to fly out on a chartered Alitalia aircraft to the destination country. However, the Pope usually is flown back to Rome by an aircraft belonging to the host nation's flag carrier, though some exceptions may apply. In this case, that carrier would be Philippine Airlines. This is not the first time that Philippine Airlines has had the honour of carrying the Holy Father. PAL was the papal carrier for Pope John Paul II during his visits to the Philippines in 1981 and 1995.

pope francis philippines
Image Source: CNTV
The Pope's flight is often referred to as "Shepherd One" by the media, a term that was inspired by the name of the aircraft that carries the President of the United States, "Air Force One." It was coined by the US media during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the US in 2008. In Italy, the call sign of the Pope's aircraft is "volo papale," which in English, translates literally as "Papal Flight." Although not mandated by the Vatican, some carriers have only permitted male cabin crew to serve the Pope on past flights. 

pope francis philippines
Image Source: Edit International
Depending on the type of aircraft used, the first three or four rows of seats are usually in First Class configuration, where the Pope and his closest Cardinals will sit. The rest of the cabin is used for the Pope's entourage and travelling media. However, Pope Francis has also been known to surprise guests in the rear of the cabin. 

pope francis philippines
Image Source: ABC News
Pope Francis is expected to travel from Manila to Tacloban aboard a Philippine Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft. It remains unclear if PAL will be making any special arrangements or configurations for the Pontiff. Given Pope Francis' preference for simplicity, if any re-configurations are made, it will likely be done sparingly. 

pope francis philippines
Image Source: Wikimedia
In the past, air carriers have gone to great lengths to service the Pope. In 2001, Air Malta reconfigured one of its A320 aircraft to transport Pope John Paul II. As part of the special configuration, a Papal Suite was installed at the front of the aircraft, with a private mid-cabin for church prelates and dignitaries accompanying the Pope. The rear of the aircraft was left for media covering the Pope's trip. Custom headrests were also installed on all seats with the Papal emblem, while a commemorative brochure and souvenir was prepared and distributed to each passenger on the flight including the Pope himself.

When the Pope returns to Rome, he traditionally lands at Ciampino Airport, where the Italian Air Force VIP Transport Squadron is based. From there, a helicopter usually flies the Pope to Vatican City. With the exception of the Pope's domestic flights within the Philippines, it has not yet been revealed whether Philippine Airlines will be flying the Pontiff back to Rome or what aircraft will be used. 

Travel Disruptions in Tacloban and Manila Expected

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is making preparations for the Pope's visit including the designation of "No Fly Zones" and the closure of airports. According to CAAP Operations Chief Rodante Hoya, the airports in Manila and Tacloban, which will be used by Pope Francis during his visit from January 15 to 19, 2015, may be declared "no fly zones."

If the move is approved, the Tacloban Airport will be closed to all other flights on January 15 at least five hours prior to the Pope's expected arrival. "CAAP will implement the safe procedures during the time of the Pope's activities," said Hoya. He added that no aircraft will be permitted during the Pope's visit in certain areas and distance must also be observed. "We will also inform airlines flying Manila-Tacloban-Manila to suspend their operations on January 17. The airlines must not issue tickets in and out of Tacloban on the said date."

pope francis philippines
Image Source: Merco Press
Pope Francis is set to arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on January 15 aboard a chartered Alitalia aircraft. It will be towed toward Villamor Airbase for a welcome ceremony. On January 17, the Pope will board a Philippine Airlines A320 aircraft and depart for Tacloban. "Definitely there will be diversion of international and domestic flights when Pope Francis arrives," added Hoya.

Roads to NAIA Terminal 3 and 4 Expected to Shut Down

The Manila International Airport Authority is also making preparations. According to General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, Terminals 3 and 4 will be completely isolated during the planned five-hour closure of roads leading to Villamor Air Base, where the Pope will land and depart on January 15 and 19. This means that Terminals 3 and 4 were be closed to arriving flights due to the closure of roads.

The runways at Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be closed to all flights five hours before the expected arrival and five hours after departure. However, the hub will remain operating for departing flights during the Pope's transit. “We are not closing the airport just because of the Pope’s visit. We are limiting operations due to the closure of roads around Terminal 3 and 4,” said Honrado. "Due to these plans, we are advising departing passengers to come to the airport hours before the roads close or they can proceed to the designated staging areas where shuttle service will be provided to transport them to Terminal 3 or 4 via the side roads."

Honrado noted that the staging areas would be set up at Nayong Filipino and Terminal 1 Parking Area B. Unlike passengers travelling through Terminals 3 and 4, passengers at Terminals 1 and 2 will still be able to access their designated terminal, which will remain partially accessible through the Bicutan-Sucat Road network. 

Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority has left it up to the respective airlines as to whether to cancel, divert, or delay arriving flights coinciding with the impending road closures. Pope Francis is expected to land in Manila at 5:45pm on January 15. He will depart from the Philippines for Rome at 9:45am on January 19.

pope francis philippines
Image Source: Getty Images
It is believed that both the airlines and airports stand to lose revenue during this period of closure. At least five international carriers fly out of NAIA Terminal 3 and are likely to lose revenue due to the diversion, cancellation, or delay of flights. The airport authority will need to forgo landing fees and terminal charges. However, Honrado would not comment on a possible estimate for the amount of losses, stemming from the event.

No-Fly Zones in Areas Visited by the Pope

In addition to the shut down of Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban on January 17, a no-fly zone policy will be implemented in areas visited by the Pope. "We will establish flight restrictions over the duration of his visit," said Joya. "We will give him priority befitting his status." A no fly-zone of two nautical miles and a height of 18,000 feet "from the point of engagement" is expected to be implemented during the Pope's visit. CAAP officials say that this is to ensure that the Pope is safe from any threat. The move follows a similar security protocol that was implemented during the visit of US President Barack Obama. But unlike President Obama, the Pope is expected to be followed by a huge swarm of crowds with every movement. 

The No-Fly Zone policy will cover cargo, commercial, and general aviation flights, radio-controlled aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and flight training. The only exemptions may be granted to news organizations covering the Papal visit. 

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority is trying to speed up the rehabilitation of the runway at Tacloban Airport, which can presently only accommodate turbo-prop aircraft. "We still have plenty of time to finish the work ahead of Pope Francis' visit," said Joya. The 2,140 metre long runway at Tacloban Airport was one of the many structures destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Since then, the runway has been plagued by numerous potholes, prompting aviation regulators to limit operations at the airport while repairs are under way. 

Pope Francis' Philippine Itinerary

As released by the Vatican and published on Rappler, this is the planned itinerary for Pope Francis in the Philippines:

January 15

5:45pm – Arrival in Manila, followed by a motorcade to the Apostolic Nunciature, or the Vatican Embassy, along Taft Avenue

January 16

9:15am – Welcome ceremony in the presidential palace, Malacañang, with a courtesy visit to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III

10:15am – Meeting with civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, and a speech by Francis; followed by a motorcade to the Manila Cathedral

11:15am – Holy Mass with bishops, priests, and consecrated persons at the Manila Cathedral; followed by a motorcade to the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City

5:30pm – Meeting with families at the Mall of Asia Arena

January 17

8:15am – Departure for Tacloban City, from the Villamor Air Base

9:30am – Arrival in Tacloban City

10:00am – Concelebrated Mass near the Tacloban airport

12:45pm – Lunch with several Yolanda survivors at the Archbishop's Residence in Palo, Leyte

3:00pm – Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo, Leyte

3:30pm – Meeting with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and families of Yolanda survivors at the Palo Cathedral

5:00pm – Departure for Manila

6:15pm – Arrival in Manila, at the Villamor Air Base

January 18

9:45am – Meeting with leaders of various religions at UST in Manila

10:30am – Meeting with the youth in the sports field of UST, and a speech by Francis; followed by a motorcade to Rizal Park

3:30pm – Concluding Mass at Rizal Park, Manila

January 19

9:45am – Departure ceremony at the presidential pavilion of the Villamor Air Base

10:00am – Departure for Rome

Improvements Continue at Ninoy Aquino International Airport But Airport Still Falls Short

After Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport was completed to permit full operation of the facility, upgrades continue at Terminal 1, which is presently undergoing a facelift in order to bring it up to international standards, while shedding the image as one of the world's worst airports.

naia terminal 1
"Before and After Photos of  NAIA Terminal 1 Check-In Area"
Copyright Photo: E. Hortaleza/PPSG
Inside Terminal 1, passengers will immediately notice that the interiors are all being given a facelift. The interior is being brightened considerably, while the immigration queues are being improved dramatically. Airport personnel are working hard to improve the experience of departing and arriving passengers by improving the efficiency of visa and security checks.

"On-going Renovations at NAIA Terminal 1 - September 2014"
Copyright Photo: D.Wilson/PFN
Although many believe that the air-conditioning could still use improvement, it is a far cry from the inhumane conditions that passengers had to endure last summer when a number of passengers even fainted due to the intense heat. While the work has been slow to get underway, the government continues to maintain its deadline of launching the improved facility in the second quarter of 2015. 

"On-going Renovations at NAIA Terminal 1 - September 2014"
Copyright Photo: D.Wilson/PFN
Most recently, the Wall Street Cheat Sheet identified Terminal 1 as one of the top ten worst airports in the world based on traveller complaints regarding the airport's rundown facilities, rude officials and airport staff, and long queues.

naia terminal 1
"No Seating in NAIA Terminal 1 - December 2013"
Copyright Photo: D.Wilson/PFN
While the terminals are enjoying a badly needed facelift, the issues of congestion still pose a challenge for the Manila International Airport Authority. Terminal 2, used exclusively by Philippine Airlines, has already reached its full capacity, while Terminal 1, cannot accommode any additional aircraft docks. 

naia terminal 1
"Unsightly Clutter at NAIA Terminal 1 - December 2013"
Copyright Photo: D.Wilson/PFN
As the Philippine economy continues to improve, demand for air travel in the country is expected to rise sharply, with the country's primary international gateway in desperate need of a solution, preferably a brand new international airport. The previous alternative, Clark International Airport, has suffered due to the inability to secure an investment for a high-speed rail link between the airport and metro Manila. The Philippine government believes that it will be able to get a new international airport ready before 2027.

In spite of many of the positive changes, many on-going issues still remain at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Last month, GMA Network reported that the Manila International Airport Authority has yet to complete the installation of CCTV cameras at all of the airport's terminals. While Terminal 3 has completed nearly 90 percent of the installation of security cameras, the contract for Terminals 1, 2, and 4, have yet to even be awarded.

naia terminal 3
"Departures Hall at Recently Completed NAIA Terminal 3"
Copyright Photo: D. Wilson/PFN
Senator Pia Cayetano recently expressed her displeasure with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, particularly Terminal 2, home to the nation's flag carrier, Philippine Airlines. "One of the important elements for a tourist is comfort in waiting in an airport, and NAIA 2 does not have any decent coffee," said Cayetano. "NAIA has one, but the selection is otherwise..." The senator did not even complete the sentence, finding herself lost for words. "It's a bad airport to begin with. But there are a lot of little things that we can do, and No. 1 would be to elevate it to what we want people to think of it," added Cayetano. "We want to promote shopping, but when you get there, there's no decent coffee shop, there's no place to enjoy."

A three-page letter was submitted by Cayetano to Jose Angel Honrado, the General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority. The Senator also noted that the Tinderbox restaurant with locations in Terminals 1 and 2, has converted itself into a smoking establishment. "It is totally a smoking establishment," said Cayetano. "In effect, they have banned non-smokers." She added that some of the smoking areas at Ninoy Aquino International Airport are not entirely secure and they emit smoke, violating the anti-smoking policy.

Senator Sergio Osmeña voiced his support of Cayetano's concerns. "They promised us in 2010 they'd clean up Terminal 1 to get it out of the worst airports list, and we're still there," said Osmeña. "The reason why we're only one of the top 10, not No. 1, is because they averaged it. Terminal 3 started operations. If we remove Terminal 3 - you keep Terminal 2 there because it also averages us up - we will still be the worst."

Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority has announced a plan to set up covered walkways and pedestrian lanes around Terminal 3 at an estimated cost of P4.9 million. General Manager Jose Angel Honrado believes that it would be of benefit to those who take public transportation. "The project will connect Terminal 3 to jeepney and bus stops at the rotunda," said Honrado. 

The project is expected to be completed within 3 months and includes the construction of a 283-meter covered pedestrian lane, along with a 434-meter brick walkway. The project is aimed at providing ease and comfort to those arriving and departing from Terminal 3 using public transportation, as it will will shield passengers and terminal employees from the rain and heat. Honrado added that another plan is afloat to connect Terminal 3 to Resorts World Manila with a walkway.

naia terminal 1
Copyright Photo: E. Hortaleza/PPSG
At Terminal 1, passengers are beginning to observe changes in both the departure and arrival halls at the ageing airport. In the departure hall leading to gates 2 to 7, a new ceiling, lights, and blue carpet have been installed in addition to new steel reinforcement beams to withstand earthquakes and better air conditioning.

naia terminal 1
Copyright Photo: E. Hortaleza/PPSG
In the arrivals hall of Terminal 1, passengers are greeted by a new green carpet, ceiling, lighting, and better air-conditioning. Departing passengers can also enjoy coffee sold by a brand new Starbucks that was recently opened inside the terminal building. 

naia terminal 1
Copyright Photo: E. Hortaleza/PPSG
Earlier this year, five foreign carriers transferred from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 in an effort to decongest the terminal by nearly 1,500 passengers per day. The Philippine government is currently evaluating the possibility of connecting Terminals 1 and 2, in addition to the plan to construct a fifth terminal at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. "It will be better if we could bring NAIA Terminal 2 closer to Terminal 1," said Joseph Abaya, Transportation Secretary. "It will be more convenient for passengers to transfer."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Philippine Airlines to Launch Mobile App

Philippine Airlines inked a deal with telecom provider SMART Communications to develop a mobile application that will enable passengers to book flights using their mobile phone.

Image by Michael Coghlan/Wikimedia
As part of the agreement, Philippine Airlines will integrate the flag-carrier's online booking system with SMART's "MePay" payment gateway. This will allow smartphone users to pay for their flights using a credit card, debit card, or SMART Money. In addition, an option will be provided for ATM and offline payments. The new app will also allow users to check flight status and perform an online check-in. SMART, Talk N Text, and Sun Cellular subscribers will be able to access the app using their mobile data connection without extra data charges.

According to SMART President Napoleon Nazareno, developing an app for Philippine Airlines is a wise choice given the increasing use of smart phones in the Philippines. “With smartphone adoption increasing around the country, it is but natural for PAL to extend their perks and services for flyers to their mobile phones," said Nazareno. Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista reaffirmed the airline's commitment to staying on trend to meet the ever changing needs of consumers. "The new app is one of PAL’s innovations in line with its commitment to keep in step with advancements in technology for the benefit of passengers," remarked Bautista.

The app is expected to become live in early 2015 to iOS and Android devices. When the app is finally launched, Philippine Airlines will join a long list of international carriers that have tapped mobile technology to reach customers. A typical airline's mobile application usually includes features to book flights, manage existing bookings, check-in online, and even issue a mobile boarding card that can be used at the airport.
Source: GMA News , Interaksyon

Korean Air Executive Delays Flight Over "Nut Rage"

An Executive of Korean Air Lines is under heavy criticism after delaying an entire flight over improperly served macadamia nuts. Heather Cho, a Vice President of the airline, forced an A380 jumbo jet that had already pushed back from the gate at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, to return to the terminal in order to expel the aircraft's chief purser after an issue was encountered with a member of the cabin crew in a fit of "nut rage." The incident caused the flight to depart twenty minutes late.

Image Source: Bernd/Flickr
Cho, the 40-year-old daughter of the Korean flag carrier's chairman, Cho Yang-ho, was seated in first-class when she encountered an issue with a flight attendant that had handed her macadamia nuts in a packet, rather than in a dish. As a result of the incident, Cho summoned the chief purser and asked whether the flight attendant had followed the in-flight service manual properly.

When the chief pursuer did not answer the question correctly, Cho questioned the qualifications of the chief purser and insisted that the pilot return the aircraft to the gate to expel the purser from the aircraft.

Although the aircraft only arrived eleven minutes late at Seoul Incheon Airport, the incident sparked outrage in South Korea and worldwide media attention. Both Korean Air and Cho issued a public apology, with Cho stepping down from her current position, where she is responsible for overseeing in-flight service. However, Cho will remain a Vice-President at the carrier.

"I am sorry to our customers and the Korean people that I unintentionally caused social uproar and I ask forgiveness from anyone who has been hurt by me," said Cho. "I take responsibility for the incident."

Korean Air stated that although Cho was responsible for the supervision of in-flight service, her behaviour in this situation was "excessive" when she forced the plane to return to the gate to expel a member of the cabin crew in a non-emergency situation.

Cho is the eldest child of three siblings, who all serve in executive positions at the Korean flag carrier, which is Korea's largest airline. The incident sparked outrage in Korea as it was viewed as an example of improper behaviour by the privileged offspring of a wealthy elite family.

Like the Philippines. the economy of South Korea is dominated by family-controlled conglomerates, where family members often enjoy greater power and influence over major companies compared to shareholders and executives that do not have any blood relation to the founding family. In South Korea, these family-controlled conglomerates are known as chaebol.

However, the Cho family only own approximately ten percent of Korean Air Lines, which serves as part of the family's empire that includes business interests in logistics, travel, hotel, and leisure industries.

Although Cho is accepting blame for the incident, Korean Airlines says that the decision to delay Flight 86 was made by the aircraft's captain, who apparently agreed with Cho. The Transport Ministry of South Korea is investigating the incident to determine if Cho violated aviation safety law. If it is found that she endangered safety or interrupted the flight using threats, status, or violence, the ministry said that she will be dealt with sternly and could face legal action.

Korean Air, in an earlier statement, defended Cho, suggesting that it was "natural" for her to fault the ignorance of procedure by the crew. In addition to being served nuts in a packet, rather than a dish, Cho also took issue with the fact that the crew served her the nuts without being asked.

According to Korean Air, the airline's cabin crew are required to ask first class passengers if they want nuts in order to avoid serving them to passengers with allergies. The airline claimed that the purser that was deplaned did not know the company's procedures and was "making up lies and excuses" when questioned by Cho. As the executive doubted the qualifications, citing that the purser was "incapable" of ensuring the safety of the passengers, she ordered the aircraft to return to the gate to disembark the employee.

Korean Air claimed that the aircraft was less than ten meters from the gate, though some media outlets reported that it was already taxiing towards the runway. The airline stated that it took no more than two minutes to return to the gate to deplane the purser. The A380 aircraft was carrying 250 passengers and 20 cabin crew.

According to the South Korea Transport Ministry, Cho was not entitled to preferential treatment as she was a passenger at the time. "We'll see whether her behaviour was against the law. It is an unprecedented case, so we need to see the related regulations," said an official from the ministry in an interview with The Korea Times. "Even though she is senior vice president at the company, she was a passenger at that time, so she had to behave and be treated as a passenger. She could have taken other measures after coming back to Korea, such as strengthening service training."

Korean Air claimed in its initial statement that it was "reasonable" for Cho "to raise a problem in service," though it also admitted that it was an unreasonable delay. The airline followed up in a later statement that it would increase its training in order to enhance guest service and safety on board the aircraft.

Image Source: BBC News
Cho attended Cornell University and became part of Korean Air in 1999. She is currently a member of the advisory board of Singapore's Nanyang Business School. Prior to her resignation, Cho oversaw Korean Air's in-flight sales, cabin service, catering, and hotel business divisions. Her father is also the President of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Committee and Chairman of the Hanjin Group.

The public outcry and media backlash in South Korea and around the world has been extensive. According to an editorial in the Maeil Business Newspaper, "This ugly behaviour by the Korean Air boss' daughter puts the entire nation to shame. This is a global embarrassment for South Korea. Korean Air should punish Cho and she should apologise to the public for disregarding passenger safety."

An official in the South Korean transport ministry was quoted stating that the action was "totally inappropriate," while the main opposition party in South Korea, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, released a statement questioning, "Why did she have to make all that fuss because over some stupid macadamia nuts? She soiled the reputation of our flag carrier." The opposition party added that it wanted a full probe and that the daughter had a responsibility to protect the image of the carrier.

Many publications went on to lash out at Cho referring to her behaviour as petty and arrogant. In the Dong-A Ilbo Newspaper, they described Cho's behaviour reflected the "sense of entitlement and supercilious attitude" prevalent among the rich. It added that, "Apparently some members of owner families like Cho see their companies like their own kingdom."

Korean Air CEO Cho Yang-Ho accepted Cho's resignation immediately. However, the carrier stated that she would retain her title of Vice President, though she will not have any official role within the company any longer. It remained unclear what responsibility she would hold with the airline in the future.

Meanwhile, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a Seoul Civil Group, stated that it would file a complaint against Cho through prosecutors, asking them to investigate a possible breach of aviation safety laws and disruption of business.

"The anger and the concern from the public were so big because safety and procedures related to important services were simply ignored," said the group. "Given the suffering of the cabin crew who were subject to such insult and abuse, the prosecutors should launch an investigation immediately to prevent similar abuse by high-level company executives in the future."

Do similar displays of abuse from the privileged class happen in the Philippines? Tell us what you think!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Air Canada Prepares for Philippine Airlines' New York Flights

As Philippine Airlines prepares to launch its first new destination in the United States in more than a decade, Air Canada is already making counter offensive moves of its own. With Philippine Airlines about to launch service to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport via Vancouver next year, Air Canada is re-aligning its New York service shifting its daily flight from Newark Airport to JFK.

Image Source: Wikimedia
Although it remains unclear how aggressively Philippine Airlines plans to sell seats between Vancouver and New York JFK Airport, the decision by Air Canada adds yet another competitive element on what is becoming a highly competitive route. Air Canada will terminate its Vancouver to Newark flights and begin flying to New York JFK Airport beginning on May 1, 2015.

Air Canada's daily flights will be operated by an A319 jet. The eastbound service departs Vancouver at 9:00am, arriving in JFK at 5:23pm. The westbound service departs JFK at 6:10pm and arrives back in Vancouver at 9:17pm. Previously, flights between Vancouver and Newark operated overnight but Air Canada recently rescheduled the flight to operate during the day.

Passengers travelling on Air Canada from JFK will enjoy convenient connections to Air Canada's network in Western Canada and Asia including cities such as Nagoya, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, and Osaka.  

Although Air Canada does not presently serve Manila, passengers can access Manila through an interline agreement with Cathay Pacific where passengers board an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, connecting to a Cathay Pacific service to Manila

Passengers travelling between Vancouver and New York on Air Canada will be served by Air Canada's 112-seat Airbus A319 aircraft featuring an Executive and Economy Class. Earlier this year, Air Canada was voted the Best Airline in North America for the fifth year in a row at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines continues to prepare for the launch of its new flights from Manila to New York JFK via Vancouver. The service is set to commence on March 15, 2015, marking the airline's much awaited expansion to the east coast of the United States. The new route will operate four times weekly aboard an Airbus A340-300. The aircraft seats 36 passengers in Business Class and 218 in Economy Class. When it launches, the New York route will become PAL's longest route at 14,501 kilometres, representing 16.5 hours of flying time.

The Philippine Airlines flight from Vancouver to New York will depart every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10:50pm, arriving at JFK at 7:00am the following day. The return service to Vancouver will depart every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 11:00am, arriving back in Vancouver at 1:50pm. 

At present, nearly half a million Filipinos reside on the US East Coast with more than 253,000 in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area alone. Filipinos on the East Coast of the US account for 15 percent of the total US Filipino population. 

Air Canada and Philippine Airlines will be competing with Cathay Pacific, which currently offers a daily non-stop service between Vancouver and JFK at nearly identical arrival and departure times as that of Philippine Airlines. Delta Airlines also competes between Vancouver and JFK on a seasonal basis, while United Airlines operates seasonal service from Vancouver to Newark.

John F. Kennedy Airport is located in Queens Borough, approximately fifteen miles to midtown Manhattan. The airport offers convenient connections to the New York subway system.

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