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Photo of the day: Filipina cabin crew of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Cabin Crew Marsy C.)

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SC Upholds Firing of 28 Philippine Airlines Pilots, Spared 1


Twenty eight (28) Philippine Airline (PAL) pilots dismissed. One woman pilot was spared from dismissal. The Supreme Court, in a 36-page ruling, declared that she was unjustly fired since she could not have participated in the picket on account of her pregnancy.

These pilots were fired after defying a return-to-work order issued by the Department of Labor and Employment on June 7, 1998.

PAL fired 600 pilots, all members of the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP), after they staged a strike in June 1998 in protest of a new airline policy to retire pilots who have reached 20 years in service or have completed 20,000 flying hours.

But the high court said Jadie was not at fault, as her condition could not have allowed her to take part in the strike.

“Jadie was already on maternity leave. Jadie did not join the strike and could not be reasonably expected to report back for work in compliance with the return-to-work order.  Indeed, Jadie gave birth on June 24, 1998,” read the ruling.

The court granted Jadie separation pay, but said she could no longer be reinstated for the following reasons:

1. Jadie’s former position as Captain of the Fokker 50 aircraft no longer existed as the aircraft was already returned to its lessors in accordance with the Amended and Restated Rehabilitation Plan of PAL;

2. Per Air Transportation Office certification, her license expired in 1998;

3. The animosity between the parties as engendered by the protracted and heated litigation;

4. The possibility that she had already secured equivalent or other employment after the significant lapse of time since the institution of the illegal dismissal case; and

5. The nature of the business of PAL which requires the continuous operations of its planes and, thus, the hiring of new pilots.

The high court said Jadie may be able to secure her separation pay upon finality of the ruling, which could still be appealed through a motion for reconsideration.

Part of her separation package, according to the court, are a separation pay equivalent to one-month salary for every year of service, backwages from June 9, 1998, longevity pay of P500 per month for every year of service, Christmas bonuses, Jadie’s “proportionate share” in PAL’s P5-million contribution to the retirement fund, and cash conversion of her unused vacation leaves and sick leaves after June 9, 1998.

The court said she would also be entitled to benefits prior to her illegal dismissal, including her unpaid salary in June 1998, productivity allowance, transportation allowance and rice subsidy from May to June 8, 1998.

“All monetary awards due Jadie shall earn interest of 6 percent per annum from date of finality of this decision until fully paid,” the court said.

Source: Tarra Quismundo, http://globalnation.inquirer.net

PH Foils Iranian Revolutionary Guards Plot to Hijack Saudia


Philippine authorities have foiled a bid to hijack a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

According to Manila Bulletin, the authorities thwarted the plan and seized secret documents that confirm the plot. Apparently, 10 conspirators (Iranian Revolutionary Guards) left Iran on separate flights and arrived in several South East Asian countries via Turkey. The hijack plot is to be executed in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

As a precaution, the Saudi Embassy in MNL asked airport authorities to install screening devices and tighten security procedures for passengers traveling on Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines). A spokesman for Saudia said that the company gives top priority to aircraft security and are also working with other agencies.

“We are in constant contact with all stakeholders to ensure the safety of aircraft and its passengers. Security is an international responsibility.” he added.

Source: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO, http://www.arabnews.com

CAPA: Philippine Airlines To Expand Long Haul Operations


Philippine Airlines (PAL) is planning significant expansion of its long haul operation as it takes delivery of new widebody aircraft, including A350-900s. PAL’s long haul fleet is slated to expand from only 12 aircraft currently to 14 by the end of 2016, and to at least 17 aircraft by mid-2019.

After several months of negotiations PAL has finally committed to acquiring at least six A350s, three of which are tentatively earmarked as growth aircraft. The new high gross weight A350-900s will enable PAL to operate nonstop flights to the east coast of North America, as well as to add capacity to the west coast of North America and to Europe.

The Philippine flag airline currently has six long haul destinations, only four of which are served nonstop from Manila. PAL plans to add new long haul destinations, upgrade one-stop routes to nonstop, and launch new long haul routes from its secondary hub at Cebu as it expands its long haul fleet.

PAL takes six A350-900s in 2018 and 2019

PAL currently has 12 long haul aircraft, including six A340-300s and six 777-300ERs. Its total widebody fleet consists of 27 aircraft including 15 A330-300s, which are used on medium haul routes to Australia, Hawaii and the Middle East and on some regional services within East Asia. (Honolulu and Sydney have been served over the last year with a mix of A330s and A340s.)

PAL has only four nonstop long haul routes (over 10 hours) – Manila to London Heathrow, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. London is currently served with four weekly A340 flights; Los Angeles with seven per week 777-300ER and four weekly A340 frequencies; San Francisco with seven weekly 777-300ER frequencies; and Vancouver with seven weekly 777-300ER frequencies and three weekly A340 frequencies. Of the seven 777-300ER Vancouver flights, four continue to New York and three continue to Toronto.

At the 2016 Singapore Airshow on 17-Feb-2016 PAL signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to acquire six A350-900s, with options for an additional six aircraft. PAL President Jaimie Bautista said at a press conference announcing the deal that the first four A350-900s are slated be delivered in 2018, with one aircraft arriving each quarter followed by the final two firm deliveries in 1H2019.

Mr Bautista said that PAL plans to retire three of its A340s as the A350s are delivered, while the other three are earmarked as growth aircraft. PAL plans to retire its last three A340s later, which suggests that at least some of the A350 options will likely be exercised. PAL owns all of its A340s, which are 14 to 16 years old, whereas it plans to lease its new fleet of A350s.

A350 deal supports PAL long haul expansion plan

In mid-2015 PAL committed to leasing two additional 777-300ERs for delivery in late 2016. The additional 777-300ERs will enable PAL to grow its long haul operation as its long haul fleet expands from 12 aircraft currently to 14 aircraft by the end of 2016.

The commitment for six A350-900s has been anticipated for several months to support further long haul expansion, as well as fleet renewal. CAPA stated in a 13-Jun-2015 report that along with the two additional 777-300ERs for delivery in 2016 PAL was seeking to acquire four to six new-generation widebody aircraft for delivery from 2017. “The A350-900 has emerged as the strong favorite as Airbus has informed PAL that it could use the type to operate nonstop services to New York. PAL was able to get a close look at the A350-900 in May-2015, when Airbus had a demonstration flight in Manila,” CAPA wrote in Jun-2015.

PAL to launch Manila-New York non-stop in 2018; Toronto non-stop seem unlikely

PAL was ultimately unable to secure late 2017 delivery slots, which would have been preferable since that would have enabled it to expand in the US market, including an upgrade of New York to nonstop, prior to the peak 2017 Christmas season. However, PAL should be able to launch non-stops to New York by mid-2018, at which point two A350-900s will be delivered.

Serving New York nonstop is a priority for PAL as its evaluation of new-generation widebody aircraft specified the ability to operate Manila-New York in both directions without payload restrictions. A new higher gross weight version of the A350-900 also enables PAL to upgrade Toronto to nonstop, but Mr Bautista says a decision on Toronto will not be made until later.

Manila-Toronto is a smaller local market than Manila-New York and therefore may not be able to support a nonstop service, particularly on a year-round basis. PAL briefly operated Manila-Toronto nonstop with the 777-300ER in one direction (eastbound only) after launching Toronto in late 2012, but poor performance prompted PAL to implement a stop in Vancouver in both directions. New York was launched in Mar-2015 with a stop in Vancouver in both directions.

The A350-900 is a smaller and more economical aircraft than the 777-300ER, making it an ideal fit for New York non-stops.

Premium ECY option on A350

PAL plans to configure its A350-900 with approximately 300 seats across three classes – economy, premium economy and business. PAL configures its 777-300ERs with 370 seats across two classes – economy and business.

PAL currently only offers a premium economy product on its A330-300 fleet. The PAL premium economy product provides extra legroom but has the same seat width as economy. This makes the PAL premium economy product more like the product offered by US airlines rather than that of its Asian competitors, which offer a wider seat and a differentiated service.

The higher-capacity 777-300ER is ideal for PAL’s biggest long haul markets, Manila to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Although PAL plans to use the A350-900 to add frequencies on these routes, the A350 is generally a better fit for thinner markets including London, New York, Toronto and Vancouver. For Vancouver a smaller aircraft would be sensible, particularly as it is decoupled from New York, leaving Vancouver with more dedicated flights even if Toronto remains tagged.

PAL to use A340s initially to launch new long haul routes

The A350-900 is also a good fit for potential new long haul routes. PAL is launching service from Cebu to Los Angeles in Mar-2016 and plans to consider other long haul routes from Cebu as its widebody fleet expands. PAL is also considering the launch of a destination in continental Europe, potentially by the end of 2016.

Cebu-Los Angeles and the other potential new long haul routes will be launched with A340-300s as the 777-300ER is too large. PAL’s A340-300s have 254 seats in two-class configuration (economy and business only), making them even smaller than the A350-900s. However the A340s are inefficient, resulting in higher per seat costs even in a low fuel price environment.

As CAPA stated in the Nov-2015 report, PAL intends to keep operating each of its six A340-300s, which were acquired in 2013 and early 2014, until the engines require overhaul. For three of the aircraft the engines will come up for overhaul as the A350-900s are delivered in 2018 and 1H2019.

PAL has the flexibility to operate the other three A340s slightly longer, although it could accelerate their retirement if fuel prices increase. If the retirement of the last three A340s were accelerated, PAL would need to quickly exercise A350-900 options or adjust its long haul capacity plans.

PAL’s long haul ASKs to grow by approximately 50% over next three years

PAL’s current fleet plan envisages 17 long haul aircraft at the midpoint of 2019, including eight 777-300ERs, six A350-900s and three A340-300s. This represents an expansion of 42% compared with the 12 long haul aircraft in the current fleet. However, long haul ASK growth will likely expand at even faster rate – potentially above 50% – as three of the A350s are being used to replace smaller A340s. The A350s will also be utilised more than the A340s.

PAL plans to use most of the additional capacity to expand in its existing long haul destinations – with a mix of additional frequencies, upgrading one-stop services to nonstop and setting up new links from Cebu. However there will also be an opportunity to add new destinations in Europe and the US. As CAPA has highlighted, PAL previously served Las Vegas and has been evaluating several potential new US destinations including Chicago, Miami and San Diego.

The approximately 50% capacity increase may seem steep, but should be manageable given PAL’s strong position in the North American market. PAL faces relatively limited competition between the Philippines and North America as the Gulf airlines are unable to offer convenient connections in this market. PAL also has a loyal customer base in North America, where there is a large Filipino community.

PAL has the opportunity to expand in US market

For several years PAL was unable to expand in the US because the Philippines was under a Category 2 safety rating from the US FAA. PAL has only increased capacity slightly to the US since the Philippines was upgraded to Category 1 in Apr-2014. There are clearly opportunities for further expansion, particularly when taking into account the need to catch up on growth after not being able to expand its US operation for six years.

PAL has between 6,500 and almost 9,000 weekly nonstop seats to the US depending on the time of year. The launch of Cebu-Los Angeles will add approximately 10% more seats. New York is not included in these figures as it is served one-stop via Vancouver, but the planned new nonstop service to New York would generate approximately 10% seat growth for PAL in the Philippines-US market.

Load factor data for New York is only available for the first three months of the New York operation. But in Aug-2015, the last month of available data, PAL recorded a load factor of 87% on the Vancouver-New York sector. In Aug-2015 PAL recorded an average load factor of approximately 89% on Manila-San Francisco and 86% on Manila-Los Angeles.

The Philippines-US market will likely grow at least modestly over the next several years. PAL should also be able to increase its Philippines-US market share as it adds nonstop capacity.

PAL should be able to increase its share of the Manila-Los Angeles and Manila-San Francisco markets as it adds frequencies. However, the biggest opportunities for market share gains could be on routes where it launches a new nonstop option – such as Cebu-Los Angeles and Manila-New York – because on these city pairs PAL now offers similar one-stop products to those of its competitors.

Source: CAPA, http://centreforaviation.com

9 Undisclosed Orders of A330-900 NEO


Who could it be?

At the end of Singapore Airshow, Airbus has announced that there are nine orders of A330-900 NEO from undisclosed customer.

Could it be from a LCC?

Airbus will proceed with the A330neo jet, officially dubbed the A330-800neo and A330-900neo, as a next-generation upgrade to its best-selling A330 twin-aisle aircraft.

The first A330neo will be delivered to its as-yet-revealed launch customer towards the end of 2017.

The multibillion-dollar project will see the A330 fitted with larger more fuel-efficient engines and follows in the footsteps of the A320neo, which saw similar technology grafted onto the popular single-aisle jet.

The A330-800neo and A330-900neo will be upgraded versions of the A330-200 and A330-300, respectively, and will also boast extended flying range plus cabin improvements aimed at more efficient use of floor space.

The A330neo is tipped to pack between 252 and 306 seats depending on how many classes an airline fits, which is around 10 more than a similarly configured A330, although Airbus says those seats will still be a comfortable 18 inches wide.

Other mod cons will include LED mood lighting and “full connectivity” if an airline wants to add inflight Internet to the list of cost-extra options.

The new engines plus other aerodynamic tweaks are expected to reduce fuel consumption by 14% compared to the A330 ‘classic’, Airbus says.

The official list prices – which no airline ever pays – come in at US$241.7 million (A$257.4 million) for the A330-800neo and US$275.6 million (A$293.3 million) for the A330-900neo.

The current A330 is Airbus’ most popular twin-aisle aircraft, with some 1,000 of the medium-range jets carrying the colours of over 100 airlines including Qantas and Virgin Australia.

“Customers love (the A330)” said Tom Enders, Airbus Group CEO. “With our decision to re-engine the plane, we will keep the A330 flying high for many more years to come.”

The A330neo will provide “an optimal solution for airlines around the world looking to minimise their fuel and operating costs while offering best-in-class comfort to their passengers” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

“We see strong market potential for the A330neo, and like its market-leading smaller sister, the A320neo, we are confident this new aircraft will be a success in the medium-haul segment.”

However, only last month at the company’s annual Airbus Innovation Days media conference, Airbus sought to damp down speculation on the A330neo.

While admitting that a souped-up engine swap would be “relatively straightforward”,  Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy admitted to concern over “possible cannibalisation” by the A330neo over sales of its parent A330 along with smaller versions of the A350.

The current A330 is Airbus’ most popular twin-aisle aircraft, with some 1,000 of the medium-range jets carrying the colours of over 100 airlines including Qantas and Virgin Australia.

“Customers love (the A330)” said Tom Enders, Airbus Group CEO. “With our decision to re-engine the plane, we will keep the A330 flying high for many more years to come.”

The A330neo will provide “an optimal solution for airlines around the world looking to minimise their fuel and operating costs while offering best-in-class comfort to their passengers” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

“We see strong market potential for the A330neo, and like its market-leading smaller sister, the A320neo, we are confident this new aircraft will be a success in the medium-haul segment.”

However, only last month at the company’s annual Airbus Innovation Days media conference, Airbus sought to damp down speculation on the A330neo.

While admitting that a souped-up engine swap would be “relatively straightforward”,  Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy admitted to concern over “possible cannibalisation” by the A330neo over sales of its parent A330 along with smaller versions of the A350.

“It is an interesting idea, we go back and forth on it” Leahy reflected, while executive vice president of strategy and marketing Kiran Rao added that “it’s not a decision we will rush into.”

Earlier today Airbus also announced that the A350 would visit Sydney on August 5th as part of  “a series of tests throughout the world in order to secure certification” of the advanced jet.

High Speed Rail Not Needed for Clark Int’l Airport?


The chief of Peregrine Development International Incorporated says the claim about the need for high-speed rail to service Clark International Airport is ‘folklore.’

Citing the realities of international and domestic air travel, a top official of an American knowledge management firm said a high speed rail system between the Clark Freeport Zone and Metro Manila is unnecessary for the full operation of the Clark International Airport.

Dennis Wright, president and CEO of Peregrine Development International Incorporated (PDI), emailed last February 18 a copy of the article he wrote for the American Chamber of Commerce Philippines’ monthly Journal wherein he tagged as “folklore” the claim about the need for high-speed rail to service Clark airport.

Citing the realities of international and domestic air travel, a top official of an American knowledge management firm said a high speed rail system between the Clark Freeport Zone and Metro Manila is unnecessary for the full operation of the Clark International Airport.

Dennis Wright, president and CEO of Peregrine Development International Incorporated (PDI), emailed last February 18 a copy of the article he wrote for the American Chamber of Commerce Philippines’ monthly Journal wherein he tagged as “folklore” the claim about the need for high-speed rail to service Clark airport.

“Most of these individuals have chauffeured cars and would still primarily utilize NAIA as would people south of the National Capital Region.”

The chief of PDI said overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families are also unlikely to use the high speed rail.

'FOLKLORE'. A high speed rail system will not be beneficial to people using the Clark airport, an American businessman claims
Image Source: Rappler
Dragging boxes

“It is hardly likely that a large family wanting to greet a returning OFW or send one off to work (abroad) will gather at the train station for a trip to and from the airport,” Wright said.

“Also, have you ever tried doing a bag drag and/or Balikbayan boxes from an airport terminal to a rail terminal and on and off the train car to a taxi? While it can be done, it is not easy,” Wright added.

The American businessman said rail transportation is not necessary between the Clark airport and NAIA because airlines generally do not ticket or connect routes between sister airports in the same area.

“For example, no one flies to Narita (Japan) and connects out of Haneda, or flies O’Hare (Chicago, USA) and out of Midway. So passengers, in general, rarely need or would use a rail connection between the airports,” Wright said.

He said Clark International Airport should be developed as a major airport alongside NAIA.

Just like in most cities around the world, two or 3 major airports are needed to service locals and tourists, as the number of flights continue to increase, Wright added.

Wright cited the cases of Thailand that built a new airport some 30 kilometers away from the old airport; Japan, that built and operated Narita airport, some 60 kilometers away from the older Haneda airport; and Malaysia, that built a new airport some 45 kilometers from downtown Kuala Lumpur.

During her visit here early this month, presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe said she supports the full utilization of Clark International Airport, but added that a rail system connecting Clark to Metro Manila and the Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan regions is also needed to realize this.

Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who visited Pampanga last December, said Clark International Airport should be the country’s main international airport, but this cannot be done without support infrastructure, particularly a rapid rail system to bring passengers to Metro Manila.

Another presidential aspirant, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, said last December that one way of easing the traffic problem in Metro Manila is the use of Clark International Airport as alternative to NAIA and the building of a Clark-Metro Manila fast train system for passengers.

Source: Jun A. Malig, Rappler.com

Philippine Airlines Flies Daily to London


Starting June 28, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will fly daily to London Heathrow (LHR).

PAL President Jaime Bautista said that “positive performance of our flights to and from London can be attributed to the direct service, competitive pricing and the on-board offerings. Having daily flights will provide passengers taking the Manila-London route the flexibility to choose the schedule most suitable to their travel plans.”

PAL relaunched direct flights to LHR in September 2013. After two years, PAL increased its flights to 5 times per week.

With the daily service, PAL said travelers have the chance to fly from London to Manila, then visit any of the domestic and international destinations the flag carrier flies to.

Starting June 28, flight PR721 will depart London daily at 22:50, arriving in Manila at 19:50 pm local time. The return leg, PR720, will leave Manila at 1:20 pm and arrive back to London at 9 pm.

This announcement comes after PAL placed an order of 6 Airbus A350-900 planes in a $1.85 billion deal with the European plane maker for long-haul flights.

 

Zika Virus Health Precaution


The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) advised all airport operators and other authorities to take the necessary health and safety measures against Zika virus.

In a memorandum dated February 17, 2016, signed by Director General William Hotchkiss 3rd and based on a bulletin issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the CAAP said the Zika virus has been declared a “public health emergency of international concern.”

It sent out notices to concerned airport authorities, airline firms and airport medical officials on a Zika virus alert for them to also take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Travelers to other countries were urged to take extra precautions against mosquito bites, through which the Zika virus could be spread.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared, last February 1, Zika virus as an international health concern. To date, the virus has spread to 33 countries and found indirect evidence of local transmission in six other countries.

“The ICAO is collaborating with the WHO to ensure that the aviation sector play a supporting role in minimizing the risk of spreading the disease internationally and of travelers becoming infected, especially women who may be pregnant,” Hotchkiss said.

He added that a basic precaution that may be undertaken by the airlines is disinfection of aircraft to prevent breeding of Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Bureau of Quarantine personnel at the airports have been reminded to stay alert for arriving passengers who may be infected by the Zika virus that makes use of similar transmission routes as dengue fever.

Infant with microcephaly.

The virus is blamed in South America, in particular, for the birth of children with abnormally small heads and undeveloped brains, a medical condition called microcephaly.

Source: Benjie Vergara, http://www.manilatimes.net