Philippine Airlines A350 Comes Home to Manila

The Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 are two of the world's next generation wide-body aircraft.  Now, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has joined the club of carriers that operate such aircraft as it has taken delivery of the first of its six A350 aircraft on July 15.  

Philippine Airlines A350 During Inaugural Flight
Copyright Photo: Sam Chui
The delivery flight was preceded by a ceremony on July 14 in Tolouse France, which was where the plane was assembled.  Among those present at the ceremony was PAL Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista.  He was joined by Airbus Executive Vice President for Asia Jean-François Laval and Christophe Molus, Rolls Royce Senior Vice President for Airbus and Site Director.

The delivery flight departed Tolouse at 7.19 pm and arrived in Manila at 2.22 pm on July 15 to a water cannon salute.   

According to Bautista, 'The arrival of the A350 XWB will see PAL offer new levels of comfort on our long haul flights' and that the carrier will benefit from the A350's 'new generation efficiency, with a significant reduction in fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs.' 

According to Airbus, the A350 features the latest in aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings, as well as fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines.  

The A350's passenger cabin is among the quietest of any twin-aisle aircraft in the industry and features mood lighting and the most recent air-conditioning systems to promote passenger well-being on the aircraft.  

PAL's A350 Business Class Seat
Copyright photo: Sam Chui

PAL's A350 Premium Economy Class Cabin
Copyright photo: Sam Chui

The new plane has 295 seats, including 30 business class seats, 24 premium economy class seats, and 241 regular economy class seats.  The business class seats are similar to what is currently offered on PAL's tri-class Airbus A330s as they turn into fully flat beds, have a lot of storage, and direct aisle access for each passenger in that cabin.  Business and premium economy class seats also feature power outlets.  Economy class seats offer 33 inches of legroom, which is larger than what is found on PAL's other aircraft.

PAL's A350 Economy Class Cabin
Copyright Photo: Sam Chui

Each passenger has an in-flight entertainment (IFE) monitor, a USB port to charge mobile phones, and access to wifi.  Like PAL's wifi service on other aircraft, A350 passengers have a limited amount of free data allowance at the start but they can purchase more if they wish to continue their browsing sessions on-board.

The features in this aircraft, along with the recently-delivered Airbus A321neo stand in marked contrast to the relatively spartan and cramped earlier iterations of the Airbus A330 that were delivered during the Ramon Ang era.  These features also come on the back of the flag carrier receiving Skytrax's coveted four-star rating.  Bautista aims to further increase this to five star, which would make PAL join the ranks of Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines (SIA), Qatar Airways, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and Etihad.  

The A350 is capable of travelling nonstop for up to 8,100 nautical miles.  This enables PAL to begin a non-stop flight between Manila and New York on October 28.  PAL's service to New York currently involves a stopover in Vancouver.  

During the same week, PAL will also deploy the A350 on its existing Manila-London service.  The leg is currently operated by a Boeing 777-300ER (77W) which seats up to 370 passengers.  This means that although capacity on the route will get a downgrade, passengers and crew flying that route will have a flat bed business class seat and a premium economy cabin to look forward to.  

Before PAL deploys the A350 on its long-haul routes, the newest member of the PAL fleet will make an appearance on some Manila-Hong Kong flights.  This is normal to allow the crew to familiarise themselves with the features of new long-haul aircraft.  

Although PAL's A350 is the first carrier that will house next-generation widebody aircraft at NAIA, the airport regularly hosts such aircraft from other carriers.  For instance, ANA, Ethiopian Airlines, and SIA have some flights that utilise a Boeing 787.  Cathay Pacific also regularly sends its Airbus A350 aircraft to the Philippine capital.  In fact, the Hong Kong-based carrier has recently deployed the newest member of its fleet, the Airbus A350-1000, to Manila.  

Source: AirbusSam Chui's Boarding Area Blog, eTurboNews


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