Philippine Airlines Returns to Saudi Arabia

Philippine Airlines continued its global expansion and resumed its operations in Saudi Arabia with its inaugural flight between Manila and Riyadh on December 1. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a major destination for overseas Filipino workers being home to over 1.8 million Filipinos. 

philippine airlines saudi arabia
Image Source: Exciting Centennial of Philippine Aviation
The airline last operated to Riyadh in March of 2011 when flights were suspended. Philippine Airlines first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987.  The airline used the Boeing 747-400 aircraft to fly the route. This time around Philippine Airlines is banking on its smaller and more fuel-efficient fleet of Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Flights to Riyadh will operate four times weekly departing Manila to King Khalid International Airport every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. 

Philippine Airlines also launched service between Manila and Dammam on December 3. The Philippine Airlines Airbus A330-300 touched down as flight PR 682 carrying 216 passengers at King Fahd International Airport. The same aircraft departed a couple of hours later as PR 683 with 367 passengers on board for the return flight to Manila. 

The last time Philippine Airlines flew to Dammam was in August of 2001. The airline first started serving the city in July of 1982 when flights operated to the Dhahran International Airport before being transferred to King Fahd International Airport in November of 1999. Flights will be operated three time per week every Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday. 

Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago was on hand at King Fahd International Airport to welcome the return of Philippine Airlines to Dammam. After cutting the ceremonial ribbon and cake, the Philippine Ambassador thanked airport management for the warm welcome extended to Philippine Airlines and the visiting delegates. The Ambassador expressed hope that flights would be successful and that frequencies would eventually increase. 

All Philippine Airlines flights to Saudi Arabia will be operated by its new fleet of Airbus A330-300 aircraft. As one of the most cost-efficient wide-body aircraft operating in the world today, the new Airbus A330 fleet has quickly risen to become PAL's flagship aircraft on medium-range routes.

The brand-new Airbus A330-300 fleet has been exclusively designed to cater to the cost-conscious Filipino market without sacrificing comfort. It is configured to accommodate 414 passengers in two classes. Premium Economy is configured with 39 seats while Regular Economy carries 375 seats. Philippine Airlines ordered 20 of the aircraft type last year to replace a number of its older model A330 aircraft acquired between 1997 and 1998. The first new A330-300 aircraft arrived in Manila in September of this year. 

In a statement released by the airline, Philippine Airlines indicated that "PAL has been traditionally favoured by Filipinos in the Middle East because its direct service to Manila means that they get home faster compared to other carriers, whose flights can involve up to two stops before landing in the Manila."

However, Philippine Airlines is not alone on its routes to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian Airlines already offers regular service between Manila and Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah. When Philippine Airlines originally announced its global expansion earlier this year, Jeddah was to be included on the list of new Saudi Arabian destinations to be launched in December. But the carrier removed Jeddah from its schedule discreetly last September. Filipinos residing on the western side of the Kingdom are questioning why those flights were not restored. 

Although Philippine Airlines has yet to issue a formal statement regarding the plans for Jeddah, industry sources have suggested that the airline failed to obtain sufficient bookings to launch the flights this year unlike in Dammam and Riyadh. It is currently unknown whether Philippine Airlines will attempt to reinstate service to Jeddah later in 2014. 

Meanwhile, Ambassador Tago expressed his hope that the return of Philippine Airlines to Saudi Arabia would restore interest in the Philippines as a tourist destination for Saudi tourists while providing a more familiar travel option to Philippine nationals residing in Saudi Arabia. Tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia have increased steadily in the last three years as the Philippines has increased its tourist promotion activities in the Kingdom and Gulf region. 

1 comment:

  1. We are still waiting for the formal statement from PAL regarding the cancellation of sold flights between Jeddah and Manila in 2013. And why hasnt' PAL restored the service 9 months since this article.


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