Flights between Europe and the Philippines may be turning a corner as senior officials from two major airline groups have at ruled out reduction of service at least for the time being.
|Image by Wikimedia|
Philippine Airlines (PAL) President Jaime Bautista for one put an end to rumours that the flag carrier was axing sole flight between Manila and Europe, PR720/721. Currently, PR720/721 flies between Manila and London four times a week using an Airbus A340-300 (A343). Bautista cited improving business conditions, particularly more favourable fuel prices and a better flight schedule, for the continuation of its sole service connecting Manila and Europe.
Previously the flight operated five times a week using a Boeing 777-300ER. The service was downgraded to an A343 as the 777 aircraft was reallocated to the flag carrier's flagship routes in the United States. The A343 does not feature its own individual in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for economy class and passengers seated in that section will have to request an iPad for the 14-15 hour journey.
Meanwhile, European carrier Air France-KLM is considering the resumption of non-stop flights between Manila and Amsterdam. Patrick Roux, Vice President for the Asia-Pacific of KLM said that this is possible if market conditions continue to become more favourable in the Philippines. Roux says the group is also eyeing the possibility of selling tickets between Manila and Taipei, which is currently not possible under existing air service agreements, as well as the resumption of flights by KLM's sister carrier, Air France. Air France last flew to the Philippines in 2004 but discontinued flights of its own to the country after it merged to form the Air France-KLM group.
|KLM Boeing 777-200ER|
Image by Wikimedia
KLM's service was non-stop starting 2004 but it was relegated to a one-stop service via Taipei in 2012. This move was supposedly prompted by the Philippine government's reluctance back then to scrap the Common Carrier Tax (CCT). The CCT has beem levied by the government on foreign carriers based on the airfare charged and distance flown between the Philippines and its next destination. This charge was subsequently dropped. However analysts have suggested that intense competition from Gulf Carriers may have also played a hand in KLM's decision to cease non-stop service.
However, if Air France will resume its service or KLM will enhance its existing services, they would not be the only European carriers operating in the Philippines. Last March 15, Turkish Airlines started non-stop flights between its Istanbul base and Manila. The Turkish carrier has received top accolades from the likes of Skytrax. Although Turkish Airlines' Manila service is currently operated three times a week with an A343, airline timetables have indicated that next year Manila flights may see a Boeing 777-300ER. Being at the south eastern tip of the European continent, Istanbul has become an increasingly popular connecting point between Europe and Asia as backtracking is minimised.