|Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG|
The European Union lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines flights to Europe on July 12 paving the way for the carrier to restore direct service to the continent by the end of this year. "We have to apply for everything all over again. We literally have to start from zero," said Gozon. "We will really try to fly there before the end of the year."
London remains a high priority as one of the initial destinations for Philippine Airlines. It was revealed that the newly proposed target date for direct service to London will be December 2013 as the airline has faced delays in obtaining regulatory approvals. Philippine Airlines is expected to use London Gatwick airport as the airline's gateway to the United Kingdom and may initially use the recently acquired A340-300 aircraft to operate the service.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aeronautics Board has taken initial steps to reopen talks with Italy and France in order to establish fresh air service agreements that can support the expansion of Philippine Airlines. Discussions are expected to be held with Rome and Paris within the next six months. According to Carmelo Arcillo, CAB Executive Director, discussions with Rome for flights to Fiumcino Airport are scheduled for September 4-5, 2013 while discussions with France for resumption of service to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is not scheduled until January 2014.
Philippine Airlines recently announced that it would be transferring the majority of its domestic operations to its subsidiary PAL Express in order to concentrate on higher yielding international long haul routes. But according to Brendan Sobie, analyst at the Centre for Aviation Asia Pacific, it is a risky move that will further strain the carrier's limited resources. "It's a high-risk venture. Re-establishing an airline on long-haul routes that are intensely competitive is an expensive proposition with huge, upfront costs," said Sobie. Ramon Ang, President of PAL, has taken a contrarian approach since assuming control and management of Philippine Airlines. The carrier reported losses of $95 million in 2012.