Less than a week after Philippine Airlines started deploying its Boeing 777-300 to Los Angeles for the evening PR102 flight, the flag carrier announced that it would do the same for its San Francisco flights. PR104 departed for San Francisco on May 9 operated for the first time by a modern 370-seat Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
The Boeing 777 will initially be flown to the Bay Area every Tuesday and Friday. The outgoing Boeing 747-400 will continue to serve the route for the remaining five days of the week. However, it is expected that by next month, newer fuel-efficient twin-jet aircraft will take over for the entire week.
Philippine Airlines has been planning for several years to use the Boeing 777 on its mainland US flights to save on fuel and maintenance costs. However, the plan was delayed due to the downgrading of the Philippines’ aviation safety rating to Category 2 status in 2008 by the US Federal Aviation Administration. This effectively prevented any Philippine carrier from expanding services to the United States or substituting aircraft types currently operating on US routes. The Philippines’ Category 1 safety rating was eventually restored last month, finally allowing the deployment of PAL's Boeing 777 fleet to the US.
With the latest deployment of Boeing 777 aircraft to San Francisco, every mainland North American city in the Philippine Airlines network is now served by the Boeing 777 at least some days of the week. Philippine Airlines also operates flights to Vancouver and Toronto, which have already been served by the 777 for some time.
Philippine Airlines plans to retire its entire Boeing 747-400 fleet within the month. According to PAL President Ramon Ang, all four aircraft remaining in the fleet have already been sold.