Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bautista: Philippine Airlines Still Deciding Long Haul Aircraft

Amidst reports from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation surfacing that Philippine Airlines decided to go with six Airbus A350-900s, the company's President Jaime Bautista said to Reuters that they have yet to do so, instead maintaining that their decision is expected to come out before the year ends.

Image by: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG

Moreover, instead of the eight long-haul aircraft they originally asked for, Bautista also indicated that they are increasing the number they need to up to 12.  Six of these orders are slated for delivery by 2018 and with an option for another six for delivery by 2020.  

Bautista said that the increased orders is fuelled by increasing demand for long-haul flights to the United States and Europe.  According to the flag carrier's president, they will either go with the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787.  In addition to one of these types of aircrafts, Philippine Airlines will also receive two Boeing 777-300ERs starting late 2016.  

The flag carrier currently has 6 Boeing 777-300ERs, 6 Airbus A340-300s, and 15 Airbus A330-300s capable of serving medium and long-haul destinations.  The 777s usually serve key destinations in North America, the Airbus A340-300s also serve North America as well as London, whilst the Airbus A330s serve Australia and the Middle East.  

Since the United States' Federal Aviation Administration restored a Category 1 status, Philippine Airlines wasted no time in expanding and upgrading its service offerings on its US flights.  In addition to reallocating its 777s to US destinations, Asia's first airline also reopened service to New York.  As new aircrafts will enter the fleet in the coming years, it also hinted out that non-stop flights to the east coast of North America may be possible subject to market conditions and negotiation for air traffic rights over the north pole.  

Source: ABS-CBN News

Star Alliance Not Interested in Philippine Airlines

As Philippine Airlines begins to search for a strategic airline partner, that could help pave its entry into a global airline alliance, the national flag carrier was dealt a major blow after Star Alliance, the world's largest alliance of airlines, stated that it has no current interest in Philippine Airlines.

star alliance
Image Source: Star Alliance
According to Star Alliance's Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Goh, the global alliance has no immediate need for Philippine Airlines. "There is no immediate need to be focusing on recruiting a member from the Philippines. I would not say that we see Philippine AIrlines as a prospective new member." said Goh. "Clearly, if you just think about the network of Philippine Airlines today, they have overlapping services with some of our members."

Goh added that Star Alliance remains committed to protecting the interests of its current 28 member airlines and before any new entrants are accepted, it is important to ensure that new carriers will not compromise the interests of existing members. 

"We have hopeful members knocking on our doors and our analysis has to make sure that it is positive for all our current members," said Goh. "If we brought in a carrier that has a network that overlaps substantially with the current Star Alliance network, then we have to ask ourselves is there value in adding that airline as a new member? What destinations do we add? How many frequent fliers do we add?" Goh added that the addition of a new member carrier must bring positive opportunities for the members of the alliance either through network expansion or additional frequent fliers.

However, despite the Star Alliance's lack of interest in adding a Philippine carrier to its global portfolio, it does see an opportunity to expand its network in the Philippines through budget carriers. "Our members are constantly looking at ways to expand the network whenever that is possible. The Philippines has shown that there is a market here especially in the budget air sector," added Goh. "Of course, Manila isn't the center of the earth, but there is an opportunity for the network to grow."

Star Alliance is aware that it may have to rely on low-cost carriers to further penetrate the Philippines. There are no existing member budget airlines in Star Alliance, which is driven by its extensive network coverage carried by legacy airlines. 

However, Goh indicated that the alliance is planning to connect with low-cost carriers in Brazil and India under its "connecting partner model." This unique model assists the alliance in boosting coverage in large markets, where existing members do not operate.

Member carriers of Star Alliance enjoy benefits such as additional revenue generation, cost reductions, as well as collaborative fleet coordination, information technology, and fuel projects. Passengers that are frequent flyers with Star Alliance carriers enjoy priority check-in, priority baggage handling, priority boarding, and airport lounge access among other benefits.

Star Alliance currently operates to more than 13,000 airports spread across 192 countries. Of the 28 member carriers of Star Alliance, nine currently serve the Philippines including: Air China, ANA, Asiana, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Air Asia Philippines Launches Red Hot P0.01 Flight Promo Sale

This Christmas, Santa Clause won't be the only one painting the skies red. AirAsia Philippines will also be coming to town with a Red Hot P0.01 Flight Promo Sale beginning on November 23.

air asia peso promo sale
Image Source: Philippines AirAsia
The one-centavo seat sale includes promo fares to all domestic destinations from Manila including Tacloban, Cebu, Davao, Tagbilaran, Palawan, and Kalibo. International destinations are also included in the sale with popular cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Busan, Macau, and Hong Kong.

AirAsia Group is also offering great promotional fares to more than 100 destinations across 20 countries including Australia. Passengers travelling from the Philippines can seamlessly connect in Kuala Lumpur to one of AirAsia Group's many great destinations.

AirAsia Promo Fares can be booked on the AirAsia website from today until November 29, 2015. Promotional fares are valid for travel from May 1, 2016 to February 5, 2017. As Philippines AirAsia's Commercial Head, Gerard Peñaflor explains, the one-centavo sale comes at the perfect time for giving the gift of travel this Christmas.

"Travelling with your friends and family to Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Davao, or to Hong Kong, Korea, and other AirAsia destinations make an ideal holiday gift and our one-centavo seat sale makes the deal even sweeter," said Peñaflor. "From as low as P201.00 all-in fare, travellers will get to discover new places here in the Philippines and across AirAsia's massive network in the whole of ASEAN region and extending as far as China, India, Japan, and Korea."

air asia promo fares
Image Source: Philippines AirAsia
Peñaflor added that AirAsia will also be unveiling the latest in-flight menu to enhance the on-board experience before the busy Christmas season. "To enhance our guests' flying experience, we are set to launch before Christmas, Philippines AirAsia's latest in-flight menu which now includes new hot meals featuring Filipino favorites such as Bangus sisig, chicken curry including ASEAN-inspired dishes," added Peñaflor. "Now, everyone can enjoy great value services on top of the promo seats that we are offering."

APEC 2015: Aircraft of the Heads of State

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit recently concluded in Manila, bringing together leaders of some of the world's most powerful nations. With the help of our friends at the Philippine Plane Spotters Group, we have compiled a collection of photographs to share of the aircraft used by the visiting Heads of State.

air force one philippines
Copyright Photo: JM Santos Reyes/PPSG
This is the second time that the Philippines has hosted an APEC Summit. The last summit held in the Philippines was in 1996. The theme for this year's summit was "Building Inclusive Economics, Building a Better World." The 2015 APEC Philippines Summit included four priorities: Investing in Human Capital Development, Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities, Fostering Small and Medium Enterprises Participation in Regional and Global Markets, and Enhancing the Regional Economic Integration Agenda.


chile presidential aircraft
Copyright Photo: Gerard Montejo/PPSG
President Michelle Bachelet of Chile arrived aboard a Boeing 767-300ER. It is the only VIP aircraft that carries the Chilean Military livery. Bachelet was the first world leader to arrive in Manila for the 2015 APEC Summit. This was also her first state visit to the Philippines.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Dassault Falcon 900 EX
Copyright Photo: Roman Angelo/PPSG
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill arrived at Villamor Air Base in Manila two days ahead of the summit aboard a Dassault Falcon 900 EX jet. O'Neill expressed gratitude for the rice exports from the Philippines and the contributions of Filipino teachers. 30,000 Filipinos currently reside in Papua New Guinea.


vietnam airlines a321
Copyright Photo: Gabriel Camino/PPSG
vietnam airlines government aircraft
Copyright Photo: Alwin Escobar/PPSG
Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang arrived in Manila aboard a chartered Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 aircraft. The Vietnam Presidency is a largely ceremonial role as the Prime Minister manages the daily functions of the Vietnamese government.


mexico president aircraft
Copyright Photo: Dominick Galauran/PPSG
mexico president aircraft
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto arrived in Manila aboard a Boeing 757-200. Nieto's political presence at the APEC Summit was overshadowed by his celebrity status with countless Filipino women adoring him as an "APEC hottie." A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is slated to take over the role of official Presidential aircraft in December 2015.

United States of America

air force one philippines
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
us air force 757 philippines
Copyright Photo: Lester Tangco/PPSG
marine one manila
Copyright Photo: Dominick Galauran/PPSG
President Barack Obama arrived aboard a customized Boeing 747-200B aircraft. Obama disembarked the aircraft at the Balabag Ramp Area at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He was the only head of state to arrive at this part of the airport. This is the second time Obama has visited the Philippines. His last visit was in April 2014 on a four-nation tour of Asia. Although the Boeing 747 is most commonly referred to as Air Force One, the term is actually a call sign used to refer to any aircraft that carries the President of the United States. If the President is not on-board, a regular call sign is used. The helicopter used to transport the President is most commonly referred to as Marine One.

malaysia prime minister a320
Copyright Photo: Jose Gabrielle Dela Pena/PPSG
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 aboard an Airbus A320 operated by the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The aircraft was just purchased in 2015. This is the Prime Minister's third trip to the Philippines after previously visiting in October 2012 and March 2014.


korea government 747 philippines
Copyright Photo: Dominick Galauran/PPSG
korea government 747
Copyright Photo: Jose Gabrielle Dela Pena/PPSG
korea president plane
Copyright Photo: Jay Fillarca/PPSG
Korean President Park Geun-Hye arrived at Terminal 1 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. She travelled on board a Boeing 747-400, leased from Korean Air for the next five years. The fuselage features the country's name written in English and Korean. Park is the first female president of Korea and was named the world's 11th most powerful woman by Forbes Magazine in 2013.


australia government 737
Copyright Photo: Dominick Galauran/PPSG
australia air force 737
Copyright Photo: Jose Gabrielle Dela Pena/PPSG
Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull arrived in Manila aboard a Boeing 737 Business Jet operated by the Royal Australian Air Force. He arrived at NAIA Terminal 2 at the same time as the South Korean President was arriving at Terminal 1. The Royal Australian Air Force operates two Boeing Business Jets in VIP configuration. They were acquired in 2002 under a lease agreement and feature conference tables, office suites, and secure satellite and communication capabilities. These particular aircraft offer a longer range than the standard Boeing Business Jet. In 2014, it was announced that these aircraft will be replaced by a VIP-configured KC-30A aircraft, a variant of the Airbus A330.


canada government aircraft manila
Copyright Photo: Lester Tangco/PPSG
cc 150 polaris manila
Copyright Photo: Katrine Laframboise/PPSG
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 aboard a CC-150 Polaris aircraft, a variant of the Airbus A310-300. The VIP aircraft is operated by the Royal Canadian Airforce. Trudeau, along with his Mexican counterpart, was one of two leaders at the APEC summit that were labelled the "APEC hotties" by Filipino netizens.

New Zealand

new zealand air force 757
Copyright Photo: Jay Fillarca/PPSG
new zealand government aircraft
Copyright Photo: Jose Gabrielle Dela Pena/PPSG
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key arrived aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757-200. Key arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. These aircraft are only occasionally used to transport the Prime Minister as the New Zealand government prefers to use chartered or commercial Air New Zealand flights for both domestic and international travel. These multi-role 757 aircraft are most commonly used to transport troops or freight.


Copyright Photo: Lester Tangco/PPSG
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived aboard a Boeing 747-400 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. He is Japan's youngest leader since World War II. The Government of Japan maintains two Boeing 747-400 aircraft operated by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. They use the callsign Japanese Air Force One when operating on official government business, and Cygnus One when operating for other purposes such as training flights. The aircraft always travel in pairs with one serving as the primary transport, while the other serves as a backup. The Japanese aircraft were constructed at the Boeing factory at the same time as the US Air Force One VC-25 aircraft. However, the US version is built to the 747-200 design, while the Japanese version is built to the 747-400 design. These aircraft will eventually be replaced by the Boeing 777-300ER in 2019.


brunei government 747
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
sultan brunei 747
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, arrived at Terminal 2 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard his Boeing 747-400 aircraft. The Sultan has several aircraft in VIP configuration, which are used for his own travel and for members of the Royal Family. The Boeing 747-400 was purchased in 1990 for $100 million and underwent a further $120 million in upgrades including professional interior design by Reese Design. The Sultan is one of the world's longest reigning monarchs with an estimated net worth of $20 billion.


Copyright Photo: Enzo Hortaleza/PPSG
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha arrived at Terminal 1 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard an Airbus A319CJ. The aircraft is maintained by Thai Airways International and used primarily by government officials. The Thai Royal family usually fly on commercial flights operated by Thai Airways when travelling outside of Thailand. However, a Boeing 737-800 is maintained by the Royal Thai Air Force for royal use within the kingdom. The Thai Government also operates an Airbus A340-500.


singapore government aircraft
Copyright Photo: Enzo Hortaleza/PPSG
singapore government jet
Image Source: ABS CBN
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 1 aboard a modest Gulfstream jet. Government officials from Singapore including Lee typically travel on regularly scheduled commercial flights operated by Singapore Airlines. However, the Singapore Air Force does maintain a small fleet of passenger-configured Fokker 50 aircraft. Singapore is one of the richest economies in the world with a GDP per capita income that is 20 times higher than the Philippines.


colombia president 737
Copyright Photo: Lester Tangco/PPSG
colombia government 737
Copyright Photo: Enzo Hortaleza/PPSG
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 1. He was the second world leader to arrive. However, he attended the summit as an observer under the invitation of President Aquino. Colombia was the sole non-APEC country invited to the APEC summit. Reports suggest that the nation's invitation may be an initial step towards Colombia being received as an organization member. The President arrived aboard a Boeing 737 aircraft, which was purchased by the Colombian government in 2005. The government fleet also includes F-28 aircraft, Lear Jets, and an Embraer Legacy.


russia president il 96
Copyright Photo: Lester Tangco/PPSG
il 96 philippines
Copyright Photo: Charleston Felimon/PPSG
russia government ilyushin il 96
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard a Russian built Ilyushin Il-96-300 aircraft. Russian President Vladimir Putin was originally confirmed to attend the APEC summit. However, he later cancelled due to domestic concerns. The aircraft are operated by Russia's State Transport Company. One of the Il-96 aircraft was refitted as a VIP transport in 2001 at an estimated cost of  GBP £10 Million. It is rumoured that the luxurious refit included marble floors, silk-lined walls, and gold-plated bathroom fittings. It is also believed that the aircraft features an escape capsule.


indonesia government aircraft
Copyright Photo: Charleston Felimon/PPSG
indonesia government aircraft
Copyright Photo: Roman Angelo/PPSG
Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla arrived at Terminal 1 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, representing President Joko Widodo. The Indonesian Presidential Aircraft is a Boeing Business Jet version of the Boeing 737-800. However, Kalla arrived aboard an Avro RJ85, operated by the Indonesian Air Force VIP squadron. The Indonesian President, known for his common touch, turned heads last year when he flew economy class to Singapore.


Former Taiwanese Vice President Vincent Siew arrived in Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, representing Chinese Taipei's Economic Leader. He arrived aboard a chartered China Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft. Usually, travel by the Taiwanese Government is aboard a Boeing 737-800 operated by the Republic of China Air Force. However, long-haul trips are usually operated by a China Airlines Boeing 747.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying, commonly referred to as CY Leung, arrived aboard a Cathay Pacific wide-body aircraft at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He was one of the first world leaders to arrive in Manila. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong always travels on commercial aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific, when travelling outside of the country.


chinese government 747
Copyright Photo: Robert Rimestad/PPSG
china government 747
Copyright Photo: Jose Gabrielle Dela Pena/PPSG
China's President Xi Jinping arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 1 shortly after the arrival of South Korean President Park Gyeun-Hye. He was greeted by Hong Kong's Chief Executive CY Leung, who arrived the night before. The President arrived aboard an Air China Boeing 747-4J6, which is specially configured for government use and does not operate any commercial service.


philippine presidential aircraft
Copyright: John Edmund Buen/PPSG
philippine presidential aircraft
Copyright: John Edmund Buen/PPSG
Although the Philippines hosted the 2015 APEC Summit, it is important not to forget that the nation also has its own Presidential transportation. The Philippine Air Force is tasked with the responsibility of transporting the President and the First Family. The fleet consists of a Fokker F-28 and Fokker F-27, as well as a series of helicopters. When the President travels outside of the country, aircraft from Philippine Airlines are usually chartered. The call sign PR001 is used to represent an aircraft operated by Philippine Airlines to transport the President.

Philippine Flight Network wishes to extend a special thank you to all of the members of the Philippine Plane Spotters Group for their incredible photographs and efforts made to capture the arrival of the countless government aircraft that came to Manila for APEC 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fernandes: Big Prize for Air Asia in the Philippines

Southeast Asia's largest low-cost airline, AirAsia, is predicting that 2016 will be a better year and that its Philippine affiliate is poised for growth as passenger numbers rise. According to airline records, AirAsia Philippines posted the highest load factor growth of all its affiliates in the third quarter of 2015.

fernandes philippines
Image Source: Rappler
In a report published by Rappler, Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, expressed optimism for his Philippine affiliate. "I am predicting a big year in 2016 and I am very confident Filipinos are going to love our products," said Fernandes on the sidelines of the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Manila. "In terms of passenger traffic, the Philippines is actually the best," added Fernandes. "We are optimistic. We will keep discovering new places and new things. It is a challenge here, but there is a big prize at the end of the day in the Philippines."

In the third quarter of 2015, AirAsia Philippines recorded a load factor of 84 percent, representing a 19 percent increase over the same period last year. An airline's load factor is a measure of aircraft seat occupancy. With the Philippine unit posting the highest load factor increase in the third quarter among AirAsia affiliates, Fernandes remains optimistic that the budget carrier will post a profit in the next quarter. "For the fourth quarter, we will make money, which is great and I am super confident going forward," stated Fernandes.

AirAsia Philippines continues to optimize its operations in the midst of a re-fleeting program in an effort to reach profitability. "Philippines AirAsia's re-fleeting plan is also on track where older aircraft that were acquired during the acquisition of Zest Air will be sold or targeted to be returned to third party lessors," added Fernandes. "This will help the associate to continue reducing its cost further. Network optimisation is in place and the number of agents will also be increased in the Philippines."

Shareholders of the carrier are planning to invest additional capital into the airline to fund the lease of an additional five A320 aircraft in 2016. The Philippine budget carrier is planning a $200-million initial public offering in the first quarter of 2018, as it nears the completion of its re-fleeting program and streamlining of operations. "More investments will come after IPO, but we do not want to announce what we are going to do because then other airlines will copy us," said Fernandes.

For now, AirAsia Philippines will continue to focus on its short-haul operations even after the initial public offering. However, it did not rule out the possibility of long-haul flights operated by AirAsia X in the future. "It will probably be the next CEO who looks at long haul, not me," noted Fernandes. He added that the carrier has no interest in the US market until they have exhausted the potential of the ASEAN market. "You set the doorsteps of China, Philippines, Japan, and Korea. On the other side, you have a 700-million ASEAN market, with most of these people not having been to the Philippines yet," Fernandes added.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines is planning flights to Japan for 2016 as it prepares to increase its footprint in the international market. The budget carrier recently acquired unused entitlements previously held by Philippine Airlines. But for now, the focus will remain on China. "We are able to get new entitlements to Japan," said AirAsia Philippines CEO Joy Cañeba. "Maybe by late next year we will fly to Japan because in the first half, I will be focused on the China routes." 

Cañeba added that AirAsia Philippines is planning to operate flights to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is closer to the city centre and preferred by business travellers. Philippine Airlines and Tokyo-based All Nippon Airways currently operate service to the airport from Manila. 

There is currently no low-cost operator flying between the Philippines and Haneda Airport. However, if the plan does not succeed, AirAsia will fly to Tokyo Narita Airport, where it faces competition from Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific.

Last month, the Civil Aeronautics Board approved the petition to allow AirAsia Philippines to operate as a single company with just a single certificate. The new company named Philippines Air Asia Inc, replaces AirAsia Philippines and AirAsia Zest.

References: Rappler

APEC 2015: Local Airlines Lost Millions in Revenue

Following the end of the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held recently in Manila, airline industry analysts estimate that both local and foreign carriers lost nearly $2 billion in revenue after more than 1,000 flights were cancelled at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

trudeau manila
Image Source: Toronto Star
According to a report in the Philippine Star, an airline industry expert stated that the airlines that were hardest hit were budget carriers as they were unable to rebook passengers immediately or transfer them to hotels. However, most of the losses incurred by airlines were covered by insurance.

Philippine Airlines, the nation's flag carrier, lost an estimated $18.7 million according to spokesperson Cielo Villaluna. PAL usually grosses $7.5 million each day in sales revenue operating approximately 260 domestic and international flights daily. As a result of APEC, the airline was forced to cancel 700 flights, representing nearly 2.5 days of operations, added Villaluna.

Cebu Pacific, the nation's largest low-cost carrier, indicated that nearly P400 million in revenue was lost due to the flight cancellations. In total, local airlines in the Philippines cancelled approximately 1,800 domestic and international flights during APEC, which lasted from November 16 to 20.

Airlines were forced to cancel flights due to the temporary runway closures at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where world leaders were given priority arrivals and departures. It is believed that the cancellations had a ripple effect throughout the Philippine archipelago, where other cities reported a reduced number of tourist arrivals.

AirAsia Philippines, the third-largest carrier in the country, cancelled a total of 84 domestic and international flights during the closure of the runway in Manila. Several foreign carriers also cancelled, rescheduled, or rerouted their flights during the APEC summit. Both Cebu Pacific and Qatar Airways diverted several flights to Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

According to Clark International Airport Corporation, Cebu Pacific diverted its flights from Dubai and Singapore, as well as several domestic flights, while Qatar Airways diverted one of its Boeing 777 flights. Qatar currently operates the only long-haul flights from Clark International Airport, while its remaining flights typically operate from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

However, in spite of the flight cancellations and lost revenue, airlines were quick to point out that there are long term benefits to be had by hosting the APEC summit. "We must stress, however, that the long term benefits of APEC outweigh these aforementioned losses," added Villaluna of Philippine Airlines.

References: Philippine Star