Philippine Airlines to Add US Flights in 2020

Against the advice of the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) to shrink Philippine Airlines' (PAL) long-haul network, Business Traveller and Routesonline are reporting that the flag carrier will be expanding its North American network in 2020.  

Philippine Airlines A350
Image source: hybridace101

PAL will reopen its Cebu-Los Angeles flight, which was suspended in May 2017.  Under the new schedule, the flights operate three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  PAL will deploy its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.  Under the route's previous iteration, it was operated with an Airbus A340-300 aircraft.  The first flight is scheduled to commence on May 2 2020.

The reopening of the Cebu-Los Angeles flight further expands PAL's secondary hub operations in Cebu, which houses scheduled international flights to/from Bangkok, Nagoya, Osaka-Kansai, Seoul-Incheon, and Tokyo-Narita.  Passengers travelling between Cebu and Los Angeles will not only be able to bypass the crowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport but also experience world class comfort and convenience in an award-winning terminal which opened in mid-2018.  Just recently, Mactan Cebu International airport has won an award at the World Architecture festival for its recently established Terminal 2.  

In addition to the reopening of the Cebu-Los Angeles flight, PAL is scheduled to mount a nonstop flight between Manila and Seattle starting May 3 2020 as PR128 (outbound) and PR129 (inbound).  The flight will operate three times weekly and PAL's Airbus A350-900 will be used.  If PAL confirms this information, it will mean Seattle becomes the flag carrier's sixth destination in the North American mainland after San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, and New York.  

Although PAL has an existing flight to nearby Vancouver, the new nonstop route will offer Seattle-bound visitors from Manila, as well as the approximately 15,000 Filipino residents of Seattle a more direct travel option between the two cities.  It can spare travellers the hassle of driving three hours across the border (not including wait times at border checks) and possibly having to apply for a Canadian visa just to use the airport in Vancouver.  

A spokesperson for PAL said to Business travellers that they are still "in the process of refining details and working on arrangements" when asked about these impending flights.  However, given that PAL has only six A350s in its fleet at the moment and has no imminent plans to acquire more aircraft of the sort, it may throw the future of some of its A350 destinations in doubt.  This should not come as a surprise as then-PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista has expressed in an interview with CAPA in the summer of 2019 that its Manila-London service (currently served by the A350) is still challenging and he has not ruled out suspending flights serving the route.  This means that Manila-London flights may be a prime candidate for service reduction or suspension to make way for the new Manila-Seattle flights.     

Nonetheless, if PAL confirms this new flight, it becomes the second carrier to mount a nonstop flight to Seattle from Southeast Asia.  On September 3 2019, Singapore Airlines launched a nonstop flight between Singapore and Seattle.  Nearby, carriers like Cathay Pacific also launched a nonstop flight between Hong Kong and Seattle on March 31 2019.  The picture between Seattle and Southeast Asia  (or nearby) has been mixed as Delta Airlines discontinued its Seattle-Hong Kong service in 2018.  Additionally, northeast Asian carriers like Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, and Korean Air already offer passengers from Manila connecting service to Seattle from their respective hubs.    

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