Showing posts with label Philippine Airlines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philippine Airlines. Show all posts

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Philippine Airlines and Etihad Ending Partnership?

The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) is suggesting that Philippine Airlines and Etihad might soon consider ending their partnership.  The Manila-based carrier has been reported to not have benefitted significantly from its partnership with its Abu Dhabi-based counterpart.  

Copyright photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG

Currently, both carriers have a codeshare agreement.  Etihad has its own flight numbers on domestic flights operated by Philippine Airlines, while Philippine Airlines also has a flight number on Etihad flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi.  

This suggestion comes as Philippine Airlines is considering a reduced presence in the Middle East in order to focus on expanding in other regions of the world .  Philippine Airlines reestablished its presence in the Middle East in 2013 amidst an ambitious expansion plan rolled out under the ownership of San Miguel Corporation.  In addition to Abu Dhabi, it has served cities such as Dubai, Riyadh, Doha, Dammam, and Jeddah.  In that same period, the flag carrier also received new Airbus A330s, including a high-density version with only regular or premium economy class seats.  This version was mostly utilised in the Middle East.  

A loss of a codeshare agreement with Etihad may also provide renewed opportunities for other Middle Eastern carriers to resume codeshare agreements with Philippine Airlines.  Previously, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Air had codeshare agreements with Philippine Airlines.

CAPA specifically reports that Philippine Airlines is specifically considering new flights in the United States and Europe, which will be priority regions once the Airbus A350 joins the carrier's fleet in 2018.  CAPA is also expanding into Australia by making its Manila-Brisbane flights completely nonstop, as well as into Chengdu, China.  This is as the flag carrier improved its profitability in spite of its rapid expansion.  Such a feat was one of the basis for Philippine Airlines winning the CAPA Asia Pacific 2016 Airline Turnaround of the Year Award. 

In addition to Etihad, Philippine Airlines has existing codeshare agreements with Air Macau, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, WestJet, and Xiamen Air.

Sources: CAPA, Business World , Inquirer

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Philippine Airlines Planning to Order 12 Bombardier Q400 Aircraft

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines has signed a Letter of Intent with Bombardier Commercial Aircraft of Canada to acquire twelve two-class 86-seat Bombardier Q-400 aircraft. Last March, the carrier revealed that it was studying options for the replacement of its existing fleet of regional aircraft operated by PAL Express. 

pal express q400
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
PAL Express currently operates a fleet of four Q300 aircraft and five Q400 aircraft. If the deal pushes through, it would increase the size and capacity of PAL's regional turbo-prop fleet allowing further expansion. In addition, the carrier will be the launch customer of the two-class variant of the Q400.

The 86-seat two-class variant will feature 10 "premium service" seats. According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, the Q400 will serve an integral role in helping the carrier to realize its vision of becoming a 5-star rate airline.

"As we strive to become a 5-star rated airline, the Q400 aircraft, featuring a modern and innovative configuration, will be instrumental in providing our travellers with a world-class, in-flight passenger experience," said Bautista. "We are proud that our continued fleet growth now makes us the first airline to launch service with the two-class, 86-seat Q400 aircraft." Bautista added that Bombardier aircraft have been instrumental in evolving the carrier's domestic network operations over the last decade.

Meanwhile, Bombardier praised the carrier's decision, noting that Philippine Airlines chose the right aircraft for reshaping its domestic air travel strategy. "With its perfect balance of passenger amenities and operational flexibility, the 86-seat Q400 aircraft will offer Philippine Airlines significant opportunities to differentiate itself in the region's fiercely competitive environment," said Fred Cromer, President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "We look forward to working with Philippine Airlines to reach a firm purchase agreement for Q400 aircraft."

The 86-seat variant Bombardier Q400 is the largest two-class turboprop aircraft available on the market offering the lowest seat-mile and operating costs in the regional aircraft market. This will support Philippine Airlines' efforts to develop its domestic operations from secondary hubs and increase intra-island connectivity, as it competes with budget-carrier Cebu Pacific, which recently introduced the ATR 72-600 into its fleet. Cebu Pacific is doubling its turbo-prop fleet as it seeks to increase inter-island travel and establish new bases.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Philippine Airlines Adjusts Flight Schedule Ahead of New Clark Flights

Philippine Airlines is acting on the government's request to shift flights to Clark International Airport in an effort to help decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. As the national flag carrier prepares to launch new flights out of Clark, PAL has revealed a list of domestic flight cancellations at NAIA, which will take effect in September. The cancellations are expected to support the decongestion of the airport.

philippine airlines a320
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The cancellations will affect flights from Manila to the following Philippine airports: Caticlan, Cebu, Calbayog, Kalibo, Laoag, Legaspi, Tablas, and Tuguegarao. Both Caticlan and Cebu will see the largest number of flight cancellations from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

In a statement released by Philippine Airlines, the carrier expressed support of the government initiative to reduce congestion at NAIA and shift some of the workload to Clark, which needs to be better utilised to help alleviate traffic at the country's primary international gateway. "These moves are being carried out in support of the government's thrust to decongest NAIA," stated PAL.

87 percent of all Philippine Airlines flights currently arrive or depart at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. In 2015, the airport already breached its annual maximum capacity of 35 million passengers when more than 36 million travellers passed through the airport. 

Philippine Airlines is counting on the national government to build the necessary infrastructure at Clark International Airport to support expanded flight operations. According to PAL President Jaime Bautista, Clark Airport needs catering services, re-fuelling stations, and better bus service. Bautista believes that the government will set up appropriate infrastructure, once they are made aware that new flights will be coming. 

Meanwhile, any passengers affected by the Philippine Airlines cancellations are invited to contact the airline to re-book their flights or request a refund. Flights can be re-booked within 30 days of the original flight date by calling Philippine Airlines at (02) 855-8888. Alternatively, passengers may also visit the nearest PAL ticketing office.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Philippine Airlines Studies Transfer of Flights to Clark Following Government Request

Philippine Airlines is now studying the possibility of transferring its turbo-prop flights to Clark International Airport, following a request from the Philippine government to consider the idea of transforming Clark International Airport into a hub for domestic flights in another effort to decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to evaluate the concept of using Clark International Airport as a domestic flight hub. According to Jaime Bautista, CEO of Philippine Airlines, the national flag carrier is considering the idea to prevent further frustration for passengers. 
"We are working on it," said Bautista. "The reason why the government wants us to move some flights to Clark is because we want to decongest Manila to prevent inconvenience to the passengers." However, Bautista reaffirmed that not all domestic flights would be transferred and that the airline still needs to study the proposal further to assess the impact on passengers and operating costs before making any decisions. 
"We will work with them," said Bautista. "We will present to them our position." However, Bautista added that the Philippine government needs to provide additional infrastructure prior to shifting additional flight operations to Clark. But Philippine Airlines is not the only carrier that has been asked to transfer flights. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told reporters that his agency plans to ask all airlines to transfer their turbo-prop flights to Clark as the government works to decongest NAIA.
PAL is currently eyeing to acquire new turbo-prop aircraft next year to replace its existing fleet of ageing regional aircraft. The company plans to make a purchase in 2017 or 2018. Philippine Airlines currently operates a fleet of nine Bombardier turbo-prop aircraft. 
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila is expected to exceed its maximum handling capacity this year, when the airport is estimated to serve 37.78 million passengers. However, the airport was only built to handle a capacity of 35 million passengers annually.
In response to Bautista's call for additional infrastructure at Clark prior to transferring flights, President Duterte added that the government will study the possibility of enhancing road or rail access to the airport in Pampanga to help facilitate the transfer of domestic flights. 
The President indicated that the use of Clark for domestic flights is only intended as a short-term measure, while the government studies construction of a brand new airport near the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport. "I don't know if we have the money to build an airport in Sangley," said Duterte. "If investors will come in, then go but for the meantime, we have to remedy the overcrowded sky of NAIA."
The President himself described his own experience of air traffic congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, when the commercial flight he was travelling aboard nearly ran out of fuel while waiting for its turn to land in Manila. "We have been turning around and we are in danger of running out of fuel," said Duterte. "I think it's only good for 17 minutes. Mabuti na lang pina-landing kami. I don't want special treatment."
President Duterte recently reaffirmed his solidarity with the Philippine travelling public shunning any special treatment and directing his cabinet to reject any special treatment. "I want this stopped. We should not be treated different from the other suffering Filipino passengers," said Duterte. "We should treat ourselves just like any other Filipino travelling."
Duterte added that he intends to take ordinary commercial flights and transfer the aviation assets of the Philippine President over to the military. "Akala siguro nila bibili ako. Kasi sabi ko 'yung lahat ng [planes] I am turning it over to the military pati 'yung mga assets ng Pangulo. Gawin na natin ospital 'yan. Put it to good use rather than allow it to rust to death," stated Duterte.

Meanwhile, the government plans to act on a previous recommendation to remove all cargo and private aircraft from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a further effort to decongest the airport. According to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, they will be transferred to Sangley Point in Cavite, Laguna Lake, or Fernando Air Base. Tugade's Department of Transportation plans to issue notice to general aviation operators within his first 100 days in office. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Philippine Carriers Fail to Impress at World Airline Awards

Long considered the "Oscars of the aviation industry," the World Airline Awards highlight the best airlines across a number of categories representing the global benchmark in airline excellence. Dubai-based Emirates clinched the top spot as the World's Best Airline for 2016, while Philippine Airlines finished in 83rd place.

air asia best low cost airline
Image Source: Skytrax
Although Philippine Airlines improved its ranking from the 2015 World Airline Awards where it finished in 87th place, Philippine carriers failed to impress in any of the categories at the 2016 ceremony. 

At the 2016 World Airline Awards, two Gulf carriers claimed the top two places, while Singapore Airlines finished in third place.

The World's Top Ten Airlines in 2016
  1. Emirates 
  2. Qatar Airways 
  3. Singapore Airlines 
  4. Cathay Pacific 
  5. ANA 
  6. Etihad Airways 
  7. Turkish Airlines 
  8. EVA Air 
  9. Qantas Airways 
  10. Lufthansa
When rated according to region, Philippine Airlines did not make the list of the Best Airlines in Asia for 2016 either, while Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and All Nippon Airways claimed the top three spots.

The Best Airlines in Asia
  1. Singapore Airlines 
  2. Cathay Pacific 
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways 
  4. EVA Air 
  5. Garuda Indonesia 
  6. Hainan Airlines 
  7. Thai Airways 
  8. Asiana Airlines 
  9. Bangkok Airways 
  10. Japan Airlines
In the category for "Best Transpacific Airline," which assesses carriers operating routes between Asia/Australasia and North/South America based on the quality of their product and staff service, Taiwan-based EVA Air clinched the top spot, followed by ANA of Japan and Cathay Pacific of Hong Kong.

The Best Transpacific Airlines
  1. EVA Air 
  2. ANA All Nippon Airways 
  3. Cathay Pacific
Meanwhile, in the best low-cost airline category, AirAsia clinched the top spot for the eighth consecutive year, while Norwegian was named best long haul low-cost airline. The awards are based on a customer satisfaction assessment of product and staff service.

Best Low-Cost Airlines in Asia
  1. AirAsia 
  2. AirAsiaX 
  3. Indigo 
  4. Jetstar Asia 
  5. Scoot 
  6. Peach 
  7. Tigerair Singapore 
  8. SpiceJet 
  9. Spring Airlines 
  10. Nok Air
According to Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, in spite of receiving the coveted award for an eighth consecutive year, his airline intends to continue improving its customer service, while introducing new technologies that make flying easier. "We can be better," said Fernandes. "We want to improve our customer service, including how we communicate with our customers." Air Asia has affiliates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and the Philippines.

Although Cebu Pacific did not place in the top-ten low-cost airlines in Asia, it did place in fifth place in the Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia/Pacific category.

Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia/Pacific
  1. Jetstar Airways 
  2. AirAsiaX 
  3. Scoot 
  4. Tigerair Australia 
  5. Cebu Pacific
Each year, travellers from around the world participate in the world's largest airline passenger satisfaction survey to determine the winners. With more than 19 million customers from 104 nationalities surveyed around the world, assessing standards in 41 key performance indicators, the Skytrax world airline awards are widely considered the Passengers Choice awards for airline performance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Change is in the Air: Philippine President Flies Economy

Maintaining his simplistic lifestyle, President Duterte set yet another example as the country's chief executive when he boarded a commercial flight from Manila to Davao last week. The new President of the Philippines shunned all special treatment at Ninoy Aquino International Airport including the use of the Presidential private jet as he walked through security just like a regular passenger.

president duterte
Photo Credit: Presidential Photographers Division/King Rodriguez
In an article published in the Philippine Star, photos released by the Presidential Communications Office showed President Duterte seated in Premium Economy Class aboard a Philippine Airlines flight bound for Davao. Duterte sat at a window seat aboard flight PR1825 that departed Manila at 9:00pm last Thursday night.

Other photos showed Duterte walking through the x-ray and metal scanners, raising his arms for inspection, just like a regular passenger as he walked to his boarding gate at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2. 

duterte humble president
Photo Credit: Presidential Photographers Division/King Rodriguez
Passengers at the airport cheered as they observed Duterte enter the building, passing through the regular security check as a common Filipino citizen. In his first cabinet meeting following his inauguration on June 30, Duterte instructed all of his Cabinet members to shun priority treatment at the airports. "We should treat ourselves just like any other Filipino travelling," said the Philippine President. 

In addition, Duterte made it clear that he does not want any government officials, especially Cabinet members, flying Business Class while travelling. Duterte also plans to remove the presidential no-fly zone when he flies in and out of the country's main gateway. In the past, the no-fly zone has caused disruption and delay at the airport to the frustration and inconvenience of passengers.

philippine government aircraft
"The Presidential Jet"
Image Source: Global Aviation Resource
Duterte's special assistant Christopher Go and members of the Presidential Security Group accompanied Duterte on the Philippine Airlines flight. The President was on his way to attend the Hari Raya Festival in Davao.

President Duterte intends to split his work week between Manila and Davao City. Duterte is the nation's sixteenth President. He is known for his simple living in spite of serving as Mayor of Davao for twenty-three years.

References: Philippine Star

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Philippine Airlines: Fixing Congested Airports Should Be Top Priority

As air passenger traffic continues to rise in country, Philippine Airlines believes that addressing congestion in the nation's airports needs to be the top priority of the Duterte administration. According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, the next Philippine government needs to rehabilitate the nation's international airports and build aviation-related infrastructure.
bautista philippine airlines
Image Source: Orient Aviation
Currently, the Philippines has sixteen international airports, excluding domestic gateways. However, most of these are congested, stated Bautista. "For example, our Ninoy Aquino International Airport is congested," said Bautista. "We can only have 40 movements per hour. Sometimes, movements per hour exceed 40 so we can't grow the market. We hope we can have better airports and more aviation-related infrastructure."
The Philippine Airlines Chief Executive added that cramped airports prevent local airlines from tapping into rising demand for flights. In addition, it may undermine the success of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Open Skies agreement. The agreement enables broader flight options within the region.
Bautista is scheduled to meet President Duterte after he takes his oath at the end of June. "I have met Duterte, but we are not that close," said Bautista. "Improving airports will enable us to continue growing. The ASEAN Open Skies will be implemented and for us to enjoy its benefits, we should have the facilities that we need."
When Bautista meets Duterte, he intends to highlight the need to improve Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Davao Airport, and Clark Airport. The country's primary international gateway in Manila is plagued by capacity issues, where it currently serves more than 34 million passengers annually although it was only designed to handle 28 million.
"We are taking delivery of more planes," said Bautista. "If there is no support infrastructure, our planes will just depart, our investments will be wasted. The government should develop further Clark Airport. It is ready, but it lacks infrastructure. The fueling facility should be improved. There should also be more support industries, like airline catering, ground handling, as well as maintenance and engineering."
The Philippine Airlines Chief added that Davao also needs to be improved as PAL is considering developing it into a regional hub. "ASEAN Open Skies allows us to fly Davao-Singapore, Davao-Kuala Lumpur, Davao-Manado, Davao-Bali, Davao-Australia, Davao-Palau, and other small cities," said Bautista. "Davao in fact is one of our most profitable local destinations. The problem is, it is very difficult to add more flights."
References: Rappler

Cebu Pacific President Flies Philippine Airlines

Cebu Pacific President & CEO Lance Gokongwei was seen travelling aboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Davao City on June 19, because he believed the national flag carrier would reach Davao ahead of his very own airline, budget carrier Cebu Pacific. 

gokongwei pal flight
Image Source: ABS-CBN
Gokongwei was seen aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 1817, as he travelled to attend a consultative meeting of the country's top businessmen and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's incoming economic managers, which was scheduled for Monday, June 20.

It was reported in the Philippine Inquirer that Gokongwei told a fellow passenger that he booked Philippine Airlines because Cebu Pacific's 3:00pm flight gets delayed. But Gokongwei did not do much better with the national flag carrier as the Philippine Airlines flight was delayed from its originally scheduled departure time at 3:00pm to 4:30pm. In the end, the aircraft did not leave Terminal 2 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport until 5:15pm.

When Gokongwei arrived in Davao, he was greeted by Cebu Pacific employees prior to heading to dinner with President-elect Duterte at the Marco Polo Hotel.

References: Inquirer

Philippine Airlines Expands in London Amidst Brexit

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines has pushed ahead with its expansion plans at London's Heathrow Airport, increasing its non-stop services from four weekly flights to daily flights in spite of the outcome of the recent Brexit vote, which is expected to impact the carrier negatively.
philippine airlines london
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to PAL President Jaime Bautista, the decision to increase the service to daily flights was driven by the need to improve the carrier's product to enhance competitiveness against other carriers.

“The reason for adding flights, actually, we are not making money in London yet. But for us to be able to compete with the other carriers, we have to improve our product," said Bautista. "The four times a week is not really a good product."

Philippine Airlines currently holds less than 30% market share of the traffic flying between London and Manila. Bautista remains optimistic that offering daily flights will entice passengers currently flying with other carriers to use Philippine Airlines instead.
Meanwhile, the devaluation of the British pound after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union is expected to decrease the carrier's revenues on flights to London this year. Philippine Airlines estimates a loss of $4 million in revenues as a result of the currency fluctuation.
"An eight percent devaluation of the British pound sterling would mean an eight percent reduction in our revenue in London because we are expecting to generate around $50 million from our UK operations this year," said Bautista. "With an eight percent devaluation, it's more or less a $4 million reduction in revenue for our London operations."
Uncertainty in the United Kingdom led to the drop of the British pound as British nationals are forecasted to reconsider travelling overseas as a result of a weaker currency and less purchasing power. However, the drop in currency may encourage more Filipinos to travel to the United Kingdom as Britain becomes more affordable.
Bautista added that it is too early to tell whether the on-going effects of Brexit would influence the national flag carrier's expansion plans in Europe. Philippine Airlines is still studying the possibility of launching non-stop flights to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Rome, and Paris as it accepts delivery of Airbus A350 aircraft in 2018. Bautista remains optimistic that the situation will stabilise. "I think this will normalize," Bautista added.
In spite of losses expected on its only European route, Philippine Airlines expects to continue its profitability in 2016 after seeing impressive performance on new flights launched this year. In 2016, Philippine Airlines launched new service to Jeddah, Kuwait, Doha, Saipan, and new non-stop service from Los Angeles to Cebu. Most recently, the carrier launched new flights between Manila, Taipei, and Osaka. 
Philippine Airlines recently reported a net income of $132.73 million in 2015, which is 35 times higher than the $3.80 million achieved in 2014.
References: Philippine Star

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Philippine Airlines Expands Hawaii Connections with Hawaiian Airlines Partnership

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines forged a new partnership with Hawaiian Airlines to enable passengers travelling from the Philippines to connect to four new destinations in Hawaii. The partnership makes Hawaiian Airlines the first US code-share partner for Philippine Airlines.

Image Source: Hawaiian Airlines

Under the new agreement, passengers will be able to connect on Philippine Airlines' five weekly flights from Manila to Honolulu to four other Hawaiian destinations including Kona, Maui, Hilo, and Lihue.

"Philippine Airlines is proud to forge a code-share partnership with Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to the inter-island points of Lihue, Hilo, Kona, and Maui," said Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista. "From these points, passengers can visit other neighbouring island destinations including Kauai and Hawaii Island."

The new agreement enables passengers to reserve a single-ticket for travel from the Philippines to any of the four new Hawaiian destinations. Baggage will be checked through in Manila to their final destination. In addition, any passengers on the inter-island code share flights will also be able to connect in Honolulu to Philippine Airlines' flights to Manila and to any of PAL's thirty domestic destinations in the Philippines.

“As we widen our route network, we aim to not only provide point to point travel, but to create passenger traffic beyond the main gateways," added Bautista. "All these are geared towards providing passenger convenience and satisfaction."

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Philippine Airlines Considers Regional Hub in Davao

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines is contemplating the possibility of developing a hub in Davao for regional and inter-island flights. According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, Davao has proven to be a profitable market domestically. 

philippine airlines davao
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
"One of our profitable domestic routes is Davao," said Bautista. "Davao would be another airport that we would consider to be a hub." He added that Philippine Airlines was considering launching flights from Davao to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manado, Bali, Palau, and Australia.

While Philippine Airlines currently operates flights from Davao to Cebu and Manila, its chief rival, Cebu Pacific, already utilises Davao as a strategic hub with non-stop service to Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Manila, and Singapore. 

According to Cebu Pacific, Davao has emerged as one of the budget carrier's most popular destinations with an average 44,000 passengers flying on board Cebu Pacific flights out of Davao each week. Cebu Pacific operates a total of 128 weekly flights from Davao. In 2015, the annual passenger volume for Davao reached more than 2.15 million passengers for Cebu Pacific alone, representing an increase of 4 percent over the previous year.

Last year, Philippine Airlines invested in Cebu, where it revived its domestic hub with flights to six cities including Bacolod, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, and Tacloban.  All flights are operated by Philippine Airlines' A320 fleet. 

Cebu has become a battleground for Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines as they pursue ambitious domestic expansion in an effort to establish dominance and control market share. Both carriers have added capacity in Cebu this year across several domestic routes. Davao is likely to become the next battleground.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Philippine Airlines Doing Fairly Well on Australian Routes

Australia is an important destination for Philippine Airlines.  Although Australian routes rank below the revenue generated on PAL's routes to the United States, they serve as a vital link in the carrier's global network. 

philippine airlines australia routes
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
With the Australian economy dependent on mining and resource exports, the nation's economy is nowhere near a world beating performance at present. Yields on Australian routes are under pressure for many international airlines, especially in the face of competition from low-cost carriers. However, overall airline passenger numbers continue to rise, buttressed by increasing tourist numbers into Australia.

Philippine Airlines should be at least breaking even on its main Australian routes to Sydney and Melbourne due to the drop in fuel prices, as that represents about 30 per cent of operating costs.

A quick analysis of Philippine Airlines' passenger numbers in February 2016 showed that the A340-300 flights from Sydney to Manila carried on average 184 passengers, while in the southerly direction to Sydney, the average was 252. February is generally not a peak month for travel to Australia, as the long yearly break for Christmas and New Year, as well as the January school holidays have concluded.

The three weekly flights between Manila and Melbourne fared better. The route, which is normally operated by an A330-300, carried an average of 266 passengers on the leg to Melbourne, while from Melbourne to Manila, the average loading was 189 patrons.

The Darwin and Brisbane combined flight typically carried 19 passengers to Darwin and 69 to Brisbane. However, outside of the school holidays, the average loading for the A320 flight from Brisbane reduced down to 55, with a further average of 19 passengers joining in Darwin. This route is much busier during school holidays, but numbers dropped substantially in February 2016 compared with February 2015.

Overall, the two most popular Australian routes are performing reasonably, given that it was not so long ago that Philippine Airlines was only operating four or five weekly flights to Sydney. The step up to daily service represented a major commitment by the airline. 

As the Manila-Sydney flights do not operate on a consistent timetable each day, this limits the ability of the carrier to capture connecting traffic. Some flights are mid-morning departures from Manila, with a late night arrival just before the 11:00pm Sydney Airport curfew. Meanwhile, the return leg is an early morning departure from Sydney not long after 6:00am on some days. This limits connecting traffic from other Australian airports such as Adelaide, Hobart or Launceston as Australian domestic flights do not start to arrive into Sydney until around 7:15am due to the curfew only lifting each morning at 6:00am.

Should Cebu Pacific (5J) ever commence flights to Melbourne from Manila, it will be interesting to see how Philippine Airlines (PR) fares, as PAL is often forced to reduce its fares on the Sydney route to compete better with Cebu Pacific.

-Surface Traveller

References: Australian Government Statistical Report

Monday, May 2, 2016

Philippine Airlines to Operate Flights Between Taiwan and Japan

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines is set to begin flights between Taiwan and Japan as it takes advantage of fifth-freedom rights held by the Philippines. PAL will begin operating flights between Taipei and Osaka on June 25.

philippine airlines taipei osaka
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The flights will be operated on a daily basis by a 199-seat Airbus A321 aircraft. Fifth freedom rights enable Philippine Airlines to pick up passengers in a foreign country and fly them to another country. The daily flights will originate in Manila and fly onto Taipei, before continuing on to Osaka.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, flight PR896 departs Taipei at 10:10am and arrives in Osaka at 1:55pm. On other days of the week, the flight departs and arrives ten minutes later. The return flight, PR897, departs Osaka at 4:50pm, and arrives in Taipei at 7:10pm.

Competition is expected to be intense with twelve other carriers currently offering flights between the two cities. Those carriers include: Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Air, Far Eastern Air Transport, Japan Airlines, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan, Peach Air, Tigerair Taiwan, TransAsia Airways, V Air, and Vanilla Air. 

Philippine Airlines is banking on the new route to drive both leisure and business traffic from Taiwan to Japan and the Philippines. Taiwan was one of Philippine Airlines' first destinations. It first flew to Taipei with a Douglas DC-3 aircraft on November 16, 1951. In November, Philippine Airlines will celebrate its 65th year of service to Taiwan.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Philippine Airlines Seeks Nine Regional Aircraft for Inter-island Expansion

A report in the Manila Bulletin has revealed that PAL Express is looking to acquire nine regional aircraft for use on inter-island routes. According to the carrier's President, the regional affiliate of Philippine Airlines is planning to expand inter-island services in the Philippines.

bombardier swiss c-series cs100
Image Source: Bombardier
"We are in the process of deciding between smaller jets or turbo-prop aircraft," said PAL Express President Bonifacio Sam. "We will be evaluating over the next four months before making a decision."

He added that the carrier is currently focusing on developing and expanding domestic routes through capacity expansion and increased frequencies. "Right now, we're doing the Cebu hub," said Sam. "We'll come up with at least 100 inter-island flights out of Cebu."

Earlier this year, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation revealed that Philippine Airlines is also looking to replace its ageing PAL Express turbo-prop fleet, after recently finalizing an order of A350 aircraft for the carrier's long-haul fleet. The carrier is studying whether to operate a turbo-prop, jet, or mixed fleet for domestic operations at smaller airports. 

In a survey conducted on the Philippine Flight Network website, more than 50 percent of respondents favoured the acquisition of the Bombardier C-Series for the carrier's PAL Express fleet. Delta Airlines, the second largest US carrier by passenger traffic, recently announced an order for up to 125 Bombardier C-Series aircraft. The deal is comprised of a firm order for 75 aircraft and options on another 50. 

The Delta deal follows an earlier announcement by Air Canada to acquire up to 45 aircraft with options for an additional 30. Air Canada is due to firm up its order in the coming weeks. "The Delta announcement confirms that our confidence in this new next-generation technology was well placed and will benefit us well into the future," said Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada CEO.

Meanwhile, the multi-billion dollar Delta order has also caught the attention of the global airline community including International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling. "It's not part of our plans at this stage but having said that, there's plenty of scope in our future plans to look at the C Series as a potential aircraft within the IAG fleet," said Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG.

Philippine Airlines Focuses on European Cities

Philippine Airlines is continuing the search for its next destination in Europe. The national flag carrier has short listed the number of potential European destinations down to four with Paris, Rome, Hamburg, and Amsterdam identified as possible contenders. 

philippine airlines europe
Image Source: Airbus
Philippine Airlines currently serves only one destination in Europe, which is London's Heathrow Airport. According to PAL President Jaime Bautista, the carrier is studying possible destinations in Europe in anticipation of the arrival of the Airbus A350 aircraft.

"We will be able to fly to new destinations in Europe when we take delivery of our Airbus 350, which will be in 2018," said Bautista. "But as early as now, we are already conducting a study on which of the destinations in Europe we'll fly to."

Bautista identified the four European cities on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the launch of flights to Philippine Airlines' 44th international destination: Saipan. The national flag carrier will begin twice weekly flights to its latest destination beginning on June 15. 

Although Spain was not included in the short list of European destinations, a Spanish website is reporting that Philippine Airlines has opted to fly to Barcelona, rather than Madrid if it decides to launch flights to Spain. 

According to the website, Philippine Airlines plans to take advantage of the growing traffic between Manila and Barcelona with the aim of launching non-stop flights by 2018. Industry insiders in Spain indicate that PAL's studies reveal that there is more traffic between Manila and Barcelona, compared to Manila and Madrid. 

However, the studies also reveal that the current volume of traffic between Manila and Spain does not make a route feasible at the present time. But if the current growth trend on the route persists into the future, the airline could reach a break-even point within a few years. 

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines recently finalized the purchase of  six A350-900 aircraft from Airbus in France after signing a memorandum of understanding to acquire the aircraft earlier this year. PAL also holds an option to acquire an additional six aircraft. The carrier intends to operate the aircraft on non-stop flights to the United States and new destinations in Europe. 

The Airbus A350 will become the new flagship of Philippine Airlines' long-haul fleet. The aircraft, which will be configured in a spacious three-class layout will carry more than 300 passengers, while providing a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption. The aircraft is also expected to lower maintenance costs considerably. 

"We are pleased to finalize this important order and are now defining the final layout for the aircraft," said Bautista. "With the A350, we will introduce a whole new level of comfort for long haul flights, with more personal space in all classes, a quieter cabin and the very latest on-board amenities. At the same time, we will benefit from the A350's enhanced efficiency and ability to fly non-stop on even our longest sector from New York to Manila, all year round."

The first Airbus A350 aircraft is scheduled for delivery to Philippine Airlines in 2018.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Philippine Airlines Launches Flights to Doha, Qatar

Philippine Airlines continued its expansion into the Middle East yesterday with the introduction of new non-stop flights between Manila and Doha. The national flag carrier will be operating five weekly flights between the two cities. 

philippine airlines qatar flights
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The new service links the two capital cities every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It is operated by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft. According to Philippine Airlines, the new route will serve the 200,000 overseas Filipinos that currently reside in Qatar.

"PAL continues to grow its routes in the Middle East by opening a new route to Doha in Qatar," said PAL President Jaime Bautista. "Our overseas Filipino workers in Qatar can now enjoy that distinct Filipino service that will bring them much closer to home."

The A330 aircraft that will operate the route is configured with Economy and Premium Economy seating. Philippine Airlines is also offering passengers thirty minutes of complimentary in-flight wireless internet and up to 15mb of video streaming to their personal devices through the myPAL player.

Round-trip tickets aboard Philippine Airlines to Doha start at US $760. Last June, Cebu Pacific launched direct service from Manila to Doha with two weekly flights. However, introductory sale fares started at just Php 888 one-way. 

Philippine Airlines last opened new flights to the Middle East this past January when it introduced new service to Jeddah and Kuwait. Meanwhile, Qatar Airways is planning to expand its presence in the Philippines when it launches new direct flights from Doha to Cebu. There is currently no confirmed start date for the new route. However, it is expected to launch sometime in 2016 with a Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Philippine Airlines Studying Replacement of Regional Aircraft

Following the recent order for A350-900 long haul aircraft, Philippine Airlines can now shift its attention to the final phase of its re-fleeting plan, which is to address the needs of its regional aircraft fleet. PAL already addressed the needs of its medium-haul and narrow-body fleet with previous orders for thirty A321neo aircraft and fifteen Airbus A330 aircraft.  

philippine airlines bombardier q400
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Philippine Airlines currently has a fleet of nine Bombardier Dash 8 turbo-prop aircraft, which are operated by the carrier's full service regional subsidiary, PAL Express. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, the average age of the Dash 8 aircraft in the PAL Express fleet is approximately twelve years old. This positions the Dash 8 as the second oldest type of aircraft in the Philippine Airlines fleet after the Airbus A340.

PAL will need to carefully evaluate its long-term plans for regional services in the Philippines as its main competitor, Cebu Pacific boosts its presence on domestic routes. Last June, Cebu Pacific placed an order ahead of Philippine Airlines for sixteen ATR 72-600 turbo-prop aircraft at the Paris Air Show. The budget carrier also received options to acquire up to an additional ten aircraft. 

The Cebu Pacific order doubles the carrier's turbo-prop fleet. In addition to replacing Cebu Pacific's fleet of eight ATR 72-500 aircraft, which are due for retirement, the new aircraft will be used to expand inter-island services throughout the Philippines. Cebu Pacific intends to use the aircraft not only at the country's main airports, but also at smaller regional airports to help develop regional tourism and transportation. 

Philippine Airlines is still studying the various regional aircraft available including turbo-props and regional jets. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, PAL is evaluating turbo-prop aircraft from Bombardier and ATR, as well as regional jets produced by Embraer and Bombardier. PAL met with each of the aircraft manufacturers at the recent Singapore Airshow. It is believed that the national flag carrier will select the replacement aircraft by the end of this year. 

The acquisition of new turbo-props is almost a certainty as not all domestic airports in the Philippines are able to accommodate jet aircraft due to the length of their runways. However, PAL may consider introducing regional jets into the fleet to complement the turbo-prop service on key domestic routes. In addition, they could be used to launch new point-to-point domestic routes from secondary cities or new regional international routes.

Bombardier's new C-Series jet might be a suitable option if Philippine Airlines wants to introduce regional jets into the fleet. Bombardier markets the aircraft as the world's most advanced single-aisle jet. The aircraft comes in two variants. The CS100 aircraft can carry up to 133 passengers, while the CS300 can carry up to 160 passengers with larger windows than most single-aisle aircraft. 

bombardier cs300 interior
Image Source: Bombardier
The family of aircraft offers 15% operating cost advantage over in-production aircraft, and a 12% operating cost advantage over re-engined aircraft. This provides the C-Series with the lowest break-even load factor in its class. In addition, both C-Series variants offer a range of over 3,000 nautical miles and the CS100 is able to take-off with as little as 4,000 feet of runway.

Swiss Air is the launch customer for the Bombardier CS100 and will be placing the aircraft into service in the third quarter of this year. Air Canada recently signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 75 C-Series aircraft. But according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, the aircraft is of little interest in Southeast Asia. "For that size category of aircraft, there is generally relatively limited interest in Southeast Asia," said Brendan Sobie, CAPA Analyst.

Image Source: Bombardier
The low-cost carrier market in Southeast Asia is dominated by Boeing and Airbus aircraft. As the low-cost model is based on fleet uniformity, there is little interest in the region at the present time. Moreover, the rapid growth of air travel and demand for lower fares is driving the demand for larger aircraft that can offer a lower cost per seat mile. Both Boeing and Airbus have introduced newer, more fuel-efficient versions of their A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft.

According to Lance Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Pacific, uniformity with the carrier's fleet of A320 aircraft is essential to the airline's low-cost business model. "I can only speak for ourselves, but as a low-cost carrier, we value commonality," said Gokongwei. "We're not about to change. Our forthcoming order is for 30 A320neos. We're pretty much set until 2021."

Given that Philippine Airlines is no longer pursuing a budget carrier model and intends to position itself as a five-star carrier, there may be room for regional jets in the fleet. However, CAPA noted in its most recent report that Philippine Airlines may choose to remain purely with a turbo-prop fleet as the extremely price-sensitive Philippine market may not provide adequate yields to support cost-effective operation of smaller regional jets, particularly with limited demand for premium service. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Philippine Airlines Studying Potential US Routes

Philippine Airlines is currently evaluating a number of possible new routes to the United States as it seeks to better serve the needs of Filipino-Americans. San Diego and Texas are two of the destinations currently under consideration. In addition, PAL is also looking at launching more non-stop service from Cebu to the United States. 

philippine airlines usa
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, it is just a matter of time until these new routes become reality. "We have been receiving a lot of requests to fly to other parts of the United States," said Bautista. "It is part of our plan and we are studying it." 

It is also believed that Philippine Airlines may be targeting another city in the eastern United States such as Chicago. However, the national flag carrier is currently awaiting the arrival of new long-range aircraft from Airbus, not scheduled to join the fleet until 2018.

Philippine Airlines would like to launch more US routes from its secondary hub in Cebu. Earlier this month, Philippine Airlines launched its inaugural service from Cebu to Los Angeles. The new flights operate three times weekly using an Airbus A340 aircraft. PAL is apparently considering launching new flights from Cebu to San Francisco and New York.

Meanwhile, the national flag carrier is also studying possible new destinations in Europe including Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Rome. But European expansion is considered much riskier, especially with the competitive presence of the Gulf and Asian carriers. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, the majority of Philippine Airlines' profits have been generated by its healthy North American routes, where it faces limited competition. 

If Philippine Airlines chooses to launch a new Western US destination, it could easily be handled by the existing fleet, which would enable the carrier to launch a new route by the end of 2016, as the carrier accepts delivery of two additional Boeing 777 aircraft.

The possibility of non-stop service to New York will have to wait for the arrival of the new A350-900, which Philippine Airlines ordered earlier this year. PAL should be able to launch the new non-stop route by the middle of 2018. According to Bautista, Philippine Airlines is also considering the possibility of launching non-stop service to Toronto.

As the carrier's load factor is generally high on its routes to the United States, there is strong reason to believe that the market can support increased capacity. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, there are clearly opportunities for further expansion as Philippine Airlines has nearly six years of growth to catch up on from when it was banned from any US expansion under Category 2 restrictions.

Although Philippine Airlines will be able to increase its market-share on its Los Angeles and San Francisco routes as it adds frequencies, the greatest opportunities to gain market share will be on new non-stop routes such as Cebu to Los Angeles, where Philippine Airlines will enjoy a competitive advantage as the sole non-stop operator.

With the introduction of the new Cebu to Los Angeles route, Philippine Airlines now operates forty weekly flights to the United States including eleven from Manila to Los Angeles, ten to San Francisco, four to New York, five to Honolulu, and seven to Guam. PAL is also set to launch five weekly flights from Manila to Doha on March 28 as the carrier prepares to expand in the Middle East.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Philippine Airlines Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Goal to Achieve 5-Star Status in 5 Years

Philippine Airlines celebrated its 75th Anniversary on Tuesday with the launch of its inaugural direct flight from Cebu to Los Angeles. After beginning a fleet modernization plan and aggressive international route expansion, the national flag carrier is now aiming even higher with an ambitious goal to achieve the status of a five-star airline in five years.
philippine airlines five star carrier
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, transforming the carrier from a three to five star carrier will not be a simple task. "Getting the five-star ranking is not easy but we think we can do that in five years," said Bautista. "For us to be able to do that, we need to improve service, from passengers' booking to getting their baggage after the flight. Our objective is to give a passenger experience that will exceed their expectations."

The star ranking is currently administered by Skytrax, a UK aviation consulting agency. If Philippine Airlines is able to achieve its goal of reaching five stars, it will join the likes of Emirates, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines. Bautista remains confident that recent innovations at the carrier will enable it to attain four-star status in 2017 after Skytrax completes another audit. He added that achieving four-star status would elevate PAL's global presence, making it more attractive to foreign investors.

Philippine Airlines will be investing heavily in in-flight technology and the reconfiguration of its existing fleet of aircraft as part of the strategic plan to achieve five-star status. The national carrier currently has fifteen Airbus A330 aircraft in the fleet that require reconfiguration and upgraded in-flight entertainment in order to achieve the rating. "The plan is to reconfigure them to around 311 seats to make it more comfortable for passengers and it would entail a huge amount of investment, more or less $10 million per plane to reconfigure," noted Bautista.

Philippine Airlines also has a number of other plans in the works including the possibility of developing a hub at Clark International Airport to help address congestion issues faced at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. "We are considering Clark as another hub for PAL," said Bautista. "Our corporate planning department is working on it and as soon as studies are finalized and flights are scheduled, we will announce it."

In addition, the carrier is also planning to take advantage of more fifth-freedom rights, which enables it to drop off and pick up passengers in a second country, prior to flying on to a third country. For example, it could fly to Bangkok, pick up more passengers, and continue onto New Delhi. Philippine Airlines is also planning to add a second European destination in 2018, when its new fleet of A350-900 aircraft enter service. The carrier is currently evaluating Amsterdam, Hamburg, Paris, and Rome as the next possible destination. 

philippine airlines cebu to los angeles
Copyright Photo: Joshua Dela Cruz/PPSG
Meanwhile, Cebuanos celebrated the launch of the maiden Philippine Airlines flight between Cebu and Los Angeles, opening new opportunities for both the business and tourism sectors. "The direct Cebu-Los Angeles flight marks our very first connection to the United States," said Manuel Ferrer, President of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation. "It creates greater travel and trade opportunities for both destinations."

Philippine Airlines was Asia's first airline, originally established in 1941. The first flight carried five passengers from Manila to Baguio. By 1946, it became the first Asian airline to fly across the Pacific. "People looked at PAL before as the best airline in Asia, but we were overtaken by events," added Bautista. "Now we want to bring back the glory days."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Philippine Airlines Considers Cambodia Flights

An article in a Cambodian newspaper suggests that Philippine Airlines is once again revisiting the possibility of launching direct flights between the Philippines and Cambodia. At present, only budget carrier Cebu Pacific operates a service between Manila and Siem Reap. However, there is no direct link between the two capitals.

manila to siem reap flights
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to Cambodia's State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, the Philippine ambassador to Cambodia has requested that the Cambodian aviation regulator issue a permit for Philippine Airlines to open the first non-stop route between Phnom Penh and Manila.

Representatives from PAL are expected to meet the aviation regulator next week. However, it remains unclear whether Philippine Airlines will pursue a route to the Cambodian capital or compete directly with Cebu Pacific on its route to Siem Reap. 

Cebu Pacific has flown to Cambodia since 2012 with its fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft. Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination as it is the primary gateway to Cambodia's most famous attraction, the temple of Angkor Wat.

Cambodian aviation officials state that the Philippine embassy would like to see a direct link to Phnom Penh. However, Philippine Airlines has not revealed its intentions. It is believed that PAL would prefer to fly to Siem Reap. 

Cambodia Airports is responsible for management of the nation's three international airports. According to Pichr Sopontara, Routes Development Manager for Cambodia Airports, Philippine Airlines has no intention of flying to Phnom Penh. Sopontara stated that PAL is planning five weekly flights beginning in May between Manila and Siem Reap using A321 aircraft. He added that the carrier intends to increase the flights to daily service.

"It is a surprise decision for us since the traffic slightly decreased in 2015," said Sopontara. He noted that PAL's intention was unexpected given the decreased demand on the route and that the national flag carrier would compete directly with budget carrier Cebu Pacific. In Phnom Penh, Philippine Airlines would have no competition and Cambodia Airports is encouraging the carrier to pursue that route instead.

In 2013, under the previous management of San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Airlines planned a joint venture with the Royal Group of Cambodia to launch a new domestic carrier called Cambodia Airlines. PAL officials had previously blamed political issues in Cambodia as cause for delay of the project. However, rumours circulating in Cambodia suggest that PAL shelved the project after re-evaluating the feasibility of the joint venture.

References: Phnom Penh Post