Philippine Airlines To Downgrade London Flights in August

According to airlineroute.net, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will downgrade the aircraft that has been deployed on its five weekly Manila-London flights as rumours emerge that a crucial barrier has been lifted to pave the way for a shorter routing on flights to London.

PAL check-in desk at Heathrow
Image source: hybridace101/PFN
Effective August 6, 2014, the quad-jet Airbus A340-300 (A343) will be flown on the route instead of the 370-seat Boeing 777-300ER (77W).  The airline's flag ship aircraft has operated the London service since its inauguration last November 4, 2013.  Under present routings, the 77W is the only aircraft in the PAL fleet that is capable of flying the westbound leg, which lasts for approximately fifteen and a half hours.  

PAL in Heathrow Airport
Image source: hybridace101/PFN
Most of the A343s currently in PAL’s fleet were previously operated by Spanish carrier Iberia.  They are with PAL under a leasing agreement with Airbus.  PAL still has a few first-hand A343s purchased directly from Airbus but these are gradually in the process of being retired from the fleet.

Unlike the 77W, the A343 does not feature personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) in economy class.  As the London service is one of PAL's longest flights, passengers, especially in economy class will have to endure long hours without IFE they can control at their fingertips.  Moreover, the 77W features an in-seat AC adapter for business class passengers and USB recharging ports for all passengers, both of which are lacking in the A343.  This will make it difficult for passengers who bring their own electronic devices to enjoy them during the whole flight as batteries may well run out midway during the flight with no provisions in place to recharge them.

In spite of the change of aircraft, the London flight's frequencies and departure times will remain unaffected. In fact, the flight will continue to fly non-stop between Manila and London.  Flights PR720 and PR721 will continue to fly daily except Tuesdays and Fridays.    

77W's NEXT ASSIGNMENTS

It is unclear why PAL decided to change the aircraft used for its flights between Manila and London. However, with only six 77Ws in the fleet, Philippine Airlines reiterated that it ordered the 77Ws in the first place primarily to serve flights to the mainland United States (US), while offering passengers there a more modern product.  This comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reinstated Category 1 status on the Philippines.  The status permits Philippine-based carriers to mount flights to the US using newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

PAL's 77W is expected to serve San Francisco on a daily basis in September as its older cousin, the Boeing 747-400 will make its final flight there on August 31, 2014.  Once the 747-400 is retired from the Philippine Airlines fleet, all of PAL's evening flights to the mainland US will be served full-time by the 77W.

The 77W also previously served Australia, particularly Sydney and Melbourne.  However, just like the Manila-London flights, the Australian flights have seen a downgrade to either the A343 or the A330 as the 77W had to be assigned elsewhere.  PAL's Canadian flights will also see a downgrade from the 77W to the A343 in September 2014, just at the end of the busy summer travel season.

PURPORTED DEVELOPMENTS ON RUSSIAN OVERFLIGHT RIGHTS

It may not just be the aircraft assigned to PAL's London flight that could see changes.  Unconfirmed reports are also coming out that the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and its Russian counterpart have agreed to amend the two countries’ Air Services Agreement (ASA) with each other.  According to those reports, part of the amended ASA includes relaxed regulations to access much-coveted Russian airspace. Russia, being the largest country in the world, is also one of the countries that does not automatically grant foreign carriers “first freedom” rights over its airspace.  According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, “first freedom” rights allow foreign carriers to merely pass through another country’s airspace without landing, and countries that are members of the International Air Services Transit Agreement (IASTA) exercise this right freely when flying over each other's airspace.  

IASTA countries
Countries party to the IASTA are highlighted in green.  Image source: Wikimedia
Given the Earth’s spherical geography, passing through Russian airspace to get to London or most of Europe is significantly shorter and a more direct route, reducing flight times by about two to three hours from current routings.  This is crucial in allowing PAL to use the more range-limited A343 on its European flights.  Currently, PAL has to pass through a longer southern path to reach London. 

Manila to London via Great circle route
What the routing of the Manila-London flight would look like if Russia grants overfly rights to PAL. Screengrab from Great Circle Mapper.
Earlier this year, reports came out that due to previous restrictions on Russian overflight rights, PAL was forced to cancel five Airbus A330 orders.  This kind of aircraft was meant to fly non-stop between the Philippines and most of Europe when using a great circle trajectory, which is said to be the shortest distance between two points.  The great circle routing between Manila and most European cities would usually involve passing through Russia.  PAL is in the process of receiving several A330s with a new business class product and wireless in-flight entertainment, but it is still unclear if PAL will still use these A330s to fly to Europe if the reports of eased access to Russian airspace hold true. 

36 comments:

  1. Before deploying on Europe, PAL should put personal IFE on Airbus A340-300. They should equip their Boeing 747-400 seats to Airbus A340-300.

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  2. Who wants to fly long-haul to Vancouver, Toronto and London on those old A340-300s discarded by another airline? Is this all PAL can offer for the convenience of its passengers - old aircraft, worn-out seats, smelly cabins, no IFE, etc.? Why bother flying with them?

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    1. Talagang hindi na ako sasakay dyan, dahil hindi ako bobo na katulad mo. Bakit ako sasakay dyan e meron Korean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, JAL from Toronto/Manila. Standard pa sa mga airlines na eto ang personal IFE at mas mura pa sometimes

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    2. And the airports are world class too - Chek Lap Kok (Hong Kong), Incheon (Seoul), Tokyo (Haneda and Narita). Unlike NAIA( Worst Airport in the World).

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    3. Passengers are paying premium price to travel especially on long-haul flights but PAL opted to short-changed its passengers by leasing ex-Iberia A340-300s and deploy them on premier routes - London, Vancouver and Toronto. What is PAL thinking of the sort of passengers travelling on those routes? PAL's gone mad!

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  3. Torture, torture, torture on the long-haul!!!!

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  4. Pal use a340 temporarily and it wont take long.still reviewing for replacement like 787 350 or 77x...guys it takes years for pal
    to recieve their order,you know its not that easy.maraming ahead na order from other airlines.para sa mga reklamador dyan...you dont have to if you dont want to.pal still fly dahil may sasakay at hindi ikaw lang ang pasahero...accept it.

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    1. It won't take long daw... Hahahaaa kala nya ganun ganun lang umorder ng eroplano. It might take what? 2 yrs. 3 yrs? By that time baka cancelled na yang London/Manila or Toronto/Manila flight dahil wala ng sasakay dahil walang personal IFE. Sayang ang mga bagong eroplano na inorder, may pagkakataon na sana na pagandahin ang PAL, hindi pa ginawa. Kung sino man ang nagdesisyon dyan na gawing parang low cost carrier ang PAL ay BOBO!!!

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    2. I fly with pal many times...not because of their services but its a direct flight.yes the lack of IFE is a major blow but i got some options.tama yang comment before you,may sasakay sa pal kahit luma na ang plane dahil direct flight...less time consuming tulad ko na bussinessman.

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    3. Not on an 18 hour flight and specially NOT the businessmen from North America ;)

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  5. PAL IS A VERY TIGHT ASS AIRLINE YES VERY EXPENSIVE TO FLY .. NEED NEWER AIRCRAFT STOP BUYING OLD SHIT .. PHILIPPINE GOVERMENT STOP BEING TIGHT AND HELP OUT THE AIRLINE AISA'S FIRST.

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  6. At least the business class a340 has massage seats

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  7. Qatar or cx is better choise. I avoid pal at all times due to seats and service. Pal lags behind in many aspects

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  8. Refleeting is planned years in advance by most major airlines to replace their current aircraft and then place orders at various airshows. Such is not the case with PAL which up until now is still contemplating on the A350/B787/B777X to replace their aging aircraft. Where does that place PAL in terms of competition? Not surprising that PAL is not able to compete with the other airlines in the region.PAL simply has got no foresight.

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    1. I definitely agree, PAL will continue to lag behind in the next two or three years. Sana lang magbago ang isip ng management at pagandahin ang PAL.

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  9. They will lag behind very much longer. Bad ife, 2 star business class. Shitty lounges. Cabincrew is far from the competitors(cx,sq, qatar). And t2 is very ugly aswell.

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  10. @ marlon villaroel yung video mo sa youtube PHILIPPINE AIRLINES MABUHAY CLASS--TORONTO MANILA ON B7 puring puri mo ang pal sa video at sa mga comments mo dun LOL :)

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    1. Yup, but that was before. I was planning to support them by flying with them every time I go home to the Philippines. I even flew with them from Manila to Singapore and Bangkok on that same vacation in December/January. Pero papalitan na nila ng lumang A340 ang Toronto/Manila route nila starting September and it makes me mad because wala man lang personal IFE etong eroplanong eto. Sana nirefurbish muna nila at nilagyan ng personal IFEs bago nila ideploy pero wala. At wala yata silang plano na lagyan pati ung mga bagong eroplano. Gusto mo man suportahan ang sarili mong flag carrier kung ganito naman ang produkto na walang ka effort effort na ipantay ang produkto sa international standards, eh mawawalan ka rin ng gana. Sana lang marealize nila na meron silang mga potential loyal customers na naturn off sa mga katangahang desisyon nila.

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    2. Haayy... nagPalawan pa pala ako via PAL.

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    3. Mag establish ka ng new carrier baka sasakay pa ako.

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  11. Flew with PAL on the Manila - London route recently, but wouldn't use the airline again. So many empty seats, but if you wanted to move to one, any type of upgrade from economy seat would be charged to you.
    If they take away the entertainment that journey would be horrendous. Food was some of the worst I've had from an airline.

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  12. In recent years, PAL was bragging about the illusions of becoming a global airline. Such thing will never happen because PAL chose to offer substandard products and services - old aircraft leased from other airline without IFE, dirty and smelly cabins(smell of Spanish onion),cramped and worn-out seats.

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    1. Is that all you could expect from the country's national flag carrier? What a shame!

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  13. PAL is consistently behind-the-times compared to.....uh...every other carrier (Maybe not Air Koryo [N.Korea]). Want a better way to go to London? Take Cathay, BA, ANA, SIA, JAL....actually, any other carrier.

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    1. It would take a Tim Clark (Emirates), James Hogan (Etihad) - men with visions and foresights for PAL to catch up with the other airlines in the region.

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  14. Just recently flew with PAL Boeing 777-300ER from Toronto-Vancouver-Manila (RT) the seat configuration of 3-4-3 at the economy seats makes the aisle so tight that even cabin attendants have difficulty pushing their food carts they mostly got bumped in the seats. its good B777 have individual personal audio and video touchscreen in every economy seats or else my 18hours journey to Manila and back in Toronto will be so boring and can make ur brain drain..like others who are dismay by PAL decisions to downgrade London and Canada aircrafts with outdated Airbus A340-300 with NO personal AVOD I might as well refrain from now from flying with PAL..the only compliment that i can give with my recent flight experienced with PAL is that cabin attendants are exeptionally great,nice and friendly.

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  15. Nakakatawa! PAL should stop offering Business Class seats and switch to LCC model. Sasakay ka na nga lang ng PAL pang LCC ang aasahan mo ng services.

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    1. I agree with you, PAL gives crappy services and is worse than AirAsia, tried AirAsia Berhad My, was better than PAL, for an LCC it had well designed looking business class seats and atleast, decent food.

      PAL's Business Class Seats are blue, mixed with yellow? It looks like it was muxed with garbage.

      PAL's 777 were the only chance the carrier could improve but alas they picked the A340 as their option, they could have added IFE but, really, a 10 Hour Flight? WTF? PAK says it is leading Aviation 30,000 feet above the ground but it is losing 100 feet below the sky

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  16. what heppened to the 13 hour manila london promised when 777 were designated

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  17. I am beggining to question, why is PAL and Philippine Aviation being run by a bunch of idiots?
    Even a neighbor with a smaller evonomy than ours, Vietnam, even has better Airlines and Airports. You call NAIA World Class? We go the extra smile? More like extra frowns. How about Clark International Airport? No plans of ACTUAL RENOVATION AND EXPANSION? IT CAN SUPPORT A380's Yet the PH chooses NAIA, which can only support A380's NOT at a regular basis. Haha, the statement PAL says "Once Again, PAL is leading aviation 30,000 feet above ground" when it has terrible service.

    Once I saw this 1st class cabin design which looked impressive,but was like, 2011, and until now, no word of it? Only PAL'sabuhay Lounge can compete globally, that is the only thing in Philippine Aviation that can compete globally.

    Smart Move in selling your B747's too, the Wide Body Aircraft that is being used commonly by REAL AIRLINERS, yet is sold. It could have been the PH Aircraft Pride, owning a large Aircraft. Sure its really expensive, but dammit PAL, we gave you enough support but your Aircraft are still stale and lackluster? Look at Malaysia Airlines, it had faced too many problems, yet it is still a lot better than PAL, look at Garuda Indonesia, they managed to turn their old crappy aircraft into something that can compete with Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific, yet we can only be at Par with Air Koryo? Even smaller economies have better airliners, how did NZ manage to become a first world country with high qualities of life with a mid sized economy as the PH? And Look, they have Air New Zealand, the Gateway to Middle Earth. We have PAL, the country's shitty carrier to paradise. I feel like the country is supported by investors yet the Filipino Idiots are bringing us down. We keep on praying yet we sit down on our cgairs waiting for a miracle to happen, no wonder God left our demanding prayers unanswered. Average Filipino Middle Class Businessmen complaign about too much work and less leisure time, yet we party so hard unlike the Japanese, they manage to work hard and have fun but end up sleeping everywhere, due to actual stress.

    Our country is soooo behind in so many levels.


    No, I am not like one of the demanding Filipino idiots.

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  18. Oh dear.. the 777 has been replaced with an ageing Airbus? Thanks PAL for treating us European travellers as second class citizens compared to the US route. Just about to book some biz class seats; won't bother now.

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  19. Oh PAL, what ever happened to you? Are you gonna be history anytime soon?

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  20. I have to admit I was pretty shocked on my last flight to Manila with my Wife and young son, I was expecting the Boeing with the USB and IFE etc but I got was a Easyjet experince but for 13 hours.. WHY WHY WHY did you do this to the European customers, I will no long use Pal or atleast until they get a new fleet on that route the older Airbus is hideous on such a long flight..

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    1. Haha, I flew with them last year. I was extremely shocked as well. Especially because the ticket was more expensive than Malaysia, Cathay Pacific, Singapore and sometimes more than Emirates. I think if PAL LDN-MNL route costs more than £400. Don't bother!

      Seriously, the moment I walked into the plane, saw the seats without entertainment screens..... I knew it was going to be a long painful flight.

      Did you see the large old school type TV's that drop down from the ceiling and the ashtrays on the seats? HAHAHAHAH

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