JEDDAH — Philippine Airlines, the flag carrier of the Philippines, has finally regained its place at the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah on Wednesday (Jan. 20) after a long lull, when PAL’s new A330-300 plane made the inaugural flight to mark the start of its regular service from Manila via Dubai.
Flight PR 658 departed Manila at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday with its 414 seats filled with overseas Filipino workers going to Dubai and the Western region, Saudi Arabia and other foreign passengers who went to the Philippines for business and leisure.
Piloted by Captain Rubito J. Samedra, who has been with PAL for 37 years, and flies Airbus planes since 1997, the flight with 13 crew members arrived in Jeddah at 8:58 a.m. Wednesday amid a warm reception tendered by Kanoo Travel, its General Sales Agent (GSA) in the Western and Eastern regions. PAL senior executives, officials of the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia, as well as other dignitaries were visibly excited to welcome the return to Jeddah of the airline which is close to their hearts due to the distinctive hospitality of the crew and professional service.
PR 659 departs Jeddah at 2:15 p.m. local time every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and arrives in Manila the following day at 8:20 a.m.
Ahmed Fawzi Kanoo, Area Manager, Western Province, expressed his strong optimism on the resumption of PAL’s regular service to Jeddah, and told Saudi Gazette that the initial three weekly flights to and from Jeddah is subject to expansion particularly during peak seasons.
Ricky Solomon L. Pacquing, PAL Country Manager, Saudi Arabia corroborated the plan, adding that when PAL resumed its flights to Riyadh and Dammam in 2013, it also started with only three flights weekly, but now has 6 and 4 flights a week, respectively.
Close to 300,000 OFWs are based in the Western region alone, some sources said.
Founded in 1941, PAL is the first and oldest commercial airline in Asia operating under its original name, but was forced to downsize its international operations by completely cutting flights to Europe and Middle East as a result of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Hence, the resurgence of PAL’s international flights is indicative of the renewed strength of the Philippine flag carrier.
In the region, PAL has also opened flights to Kuwait on January 17 this year, bringing to seven the flag carrier’s total number of Middle East destinations which includes Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dammam, Dubai and Riyadh.
“Opening up new routes to and from the Middle East such as Kuwait and Jeddah enables us to serve the flight needs of our ‘kababayans’ who work overseas. Our flights aim to provide our Filipino compatriots as well as leisure and business travelers the distinct Philippine Airlines brand of service,” said PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista.
“Jeddah serves as a gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Pilgrims may now choose PAL for their travels in observance of the Umrah and Haj,” Bautista added.
PR 658 departs Manila at 10:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Saturday and arrives in Jeddah the following day at 8:45 a.m. local time; PR 659 departs Jeddah at 2:15 p.m. local time every Wednesday and Sunday and arrives in Manila the following day at 8:20 a.m.
Gulrez Khan, Kanoo Regional Sales Manager, Western Region, told the Saudi Gazette that “definitely, PAL services and fare will be competitive”, adding that initially, PAL’s new A330-300 will be servicing the Middle Eastern routes, including Jeddah, with a fare of as low as SR1,895 for a two-way journey. However, this offer is valid up to March 15 only. Nonetheless, he further said, as a full service airline, PAL’s fares are pretty reasonable, adding that for its Premium Economy Class is only for SR3.070, “which is still cheaper.”
Source: Querubin J. Miñas, http://saudigazette.com.sa