Philippine Airlines Begins Preparations for European Flights

Following this week's announcement from the European Union that it would lift the flight ban on Philippine Airlines, Asia's oldest airline is now eagerly making preparations to begin its European flights by October.

pal flights to europe
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Philippine Airlines has not flown to Europe for the last fifteen years. While it's easy to understand the eagerness of the airline, one has to question if launching new routes within three months is simply too optimistic. In addition to needing a sales and marketing presence in Europe, the airline has yet to be granted any slots to land at a European airport.

To date, Philippine Airlines has filed slot applications for Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, and Frankfurt. The daily flights to Amsterdam and Paris are targeted to begin on October 27, 2013 utilizing the airline's Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The airline has also filed an application with Rome for a daily flight beginning on December 1, 2013 with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft. While an application to Frankfurt was submitted, the airport reports that there are on-going challenges accommodating the airline's preferred slot requests.

PAL President Ramon Ang also indicated the airline's desire to reintroduce direct service to London. However, obtaining slots at one of Europe's major gateways could prove to be a challenge. Current congestion at Heathrow Airport would make obtaining any slots near impossible on such short notice leaving Gatwick or Stansted as the only viable alternatives. When Philippine Airlines previously served London, they began operating flights to Gatwick but eventually ended their service to London using Heathrow Airport. Flying non-stop from London to Manila could also prove to be a challenge as the shortest route would involve flying over Russia or China which would require overflying rights. There is a possibility that the airline may choose to make a stop in the Middle East like it did in the past for refuelling.

As the airline pushes its expansion westward, it will inevitably need to consider ordering additional long haul aircraft. Philippine Airlines has been rumoured to be considering the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X aircraft. The airline still needs to fulfil the last remaining order for approximately twenty aircraft as part of its major refleeting program in which the airline set on a mission to acquire up to one hundred new aircraft to cut costs and improve operating efficiencies. In a deal recently with Airbus, the airline leased four ex-Iberia A340-300 aircraft. It is unclear whether those models will be used on services to Europe.

Image Source: Philippine Embassy - London
The airline will face intense competition on its Asia-Europe services and it remains to be seen if the airline will be able to operate the routes profitably. Manila is not known as a business hub nor does it offer infrastructure or a location that makes it a natural transit point for connecting passengers heading onwards to other destinations in the region. It will have a challenge competing with established legacy carriers and transit points in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok. In many cases, other airlines competing on the routes offer a superior product and modern advanced airport infrastructure. Philippine Airlines will be counting heavily on the thousands of Filipino overseas foreign workers that will be travelling home for leisure or to visit friends and family.

In addition to threats from Asian carriers including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways, Philippine Airlines also faces intense competition from Gulf carriers with four major players flying routes between Europe and Manila through their own respective hubs. These carriers include Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Air. Two of these carriers have even expanded their list of Philippine destinations to include Clark Airport. Competing with Emirates will be a challenge as they already operate three daily flights to Manila giving travellers far more flexibility in their travel plans. Cathay Pacific already serves Manila and Cebu direct from its hub in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Philippine Airlines will have to compete with KLM, the only European airline currently flying to Manila via Taipei. The carrier discontinued its direct Amsterdam-Manila service last year due to the highly unpopular Common Carrier Tax. But with the recent abolition of the tax and the announcement clearing Philippine Airlines to offer direct flights once again, KLM may decide to relaunch its direct service in order to defend its territory and flex its muscle once again.

While the future of Philippine Airlines in Europe remains uncertain, one thing that is for sure is that the journey is bound to be an exciting one. Everyone will eagerly anticipate on-going news and developments as the country looks forward to hosting more European tourists than ever before. The official list of destinations in Europe is still subject to airport slot applications and regulatory approvals. It is still unknown which European city will be served first. Philippine Airlines recently made adjustments to its US West Coast schedule eliminating the technical stop in Guam. From July 15th onwards, flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco will now fly direct to Manila.

Meanwhile, in a television interview, Ramon Ang, President of Philippine Airlines indicated that the airline is still planning to build an international airport to service the airline's needs and that on-going talks continue with Tokyo-based All Nippon Airways for a possible investment in the airline.



  1. That's a great news for Filipinos. Good luck PAL!

  2. Seems a little over ambitious. I wonder if all EU routes will succeed, like YYZ did not?

  3. Finally!!! No more yucky NAIA I!!!

  4. For sure the non-stop flight MNL-AMS-MNL will be a profitable one, because KLM had and have mostly fully booked flights on this route. Most of the people are Philippine seamen.

  5. Sky Team (AF/KLM, Delta etc) is looking for a reliable partner in SE Asia. Maybe it's PAL...

  6. Go for cph instead.

  7. I used to work in travel agency here in London. The company caters more on Filipino community. If PAL can offer a fare between £500-580 return flight MNL-LHR then great chance they can get a chunk of the market. If more than than that price .. I doubt it.

  8. When PAL flies to Europe, they will have to respect the strict consumer rights of flying customers, unlike in the Philippines were flying customers havent got any rights.

  9. Hello Pal, when will amsteram be on the list as we have to book tickets and we prefer pal istead of the bad KLM




  11. Hopefully the PAL flight expansion network to Europe would help overcome the revenue crisis of the airline. They must develop a very appealing strategy that will challenge the Gulf Carriers. Finally, PAL's performance to the EU and the NAIA rehabilitation would hopefully end the FAA Category 2 status on all Philippine Carriers. We wish PAL would establish non-stop flights to the rest of America's international airports. PAL will never be a loser airline if they will only be allowed to establish flights to other destinations. PAL is the future of Philippine Aviation. They're doing so well actually, with the best pilots Filipinos can ever have, better than other airlines internationally, unfortunately unnoticed. Just to take note that service of Flight Attendants at PAL must always equally treat both foreigners and Filipinos, because that lead to small stains of PAL's reputation as a whole, it might contribute to the low passenger ridership. It's simple, always smile to all your passengers and provide service with respect, concern, and patience. Only a piece of advise because you're the best Filipinos can proudly call their flag carrier. Can't wait to fly PAL in the future.


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