5J and PR: Friendly Neighbors


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Philippine Airlines Considering New York By Q4 2014


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MANILA – After nearly 20 years, the country’s flag carrier — Philippine Airlines (PAL) — is expected to resume its New York flights in October 2014 as the airliner hopes to return to profitability this year.

PAL president and chief operating officer (COO) Ramon S. Ang stated on Monday night that the said aviation company expects to fly to New York, using its Boeing 777-300 ERs, in fourth quarter after the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted the Philippines’ aviation status to Category 1 last month.

“We are looking at Manila-Vancouver-New York or Manila-Tokyo-New York or Chicago or Florida,” Ang said. The airline stopped operating flights in big apple NY due to the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

PAL currently operates a total of 26 weekly flights to the U.S., with destinations to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam. According to Ang, PAL will turn in a profit this year as it retires some of its old Boeing 747 and other Airbus aircraft.

The airline expects to save as much as $120 million annually in fuel and maintenance costs using the B777 on the U.S. routes back and forth without the need to refueling the jet.

“If you noticed we reported a loss of $250 million that is the write-off of the old aircraft, but from now on we are confident that Philippine Airlines will be back to profitability right away. Moving forward now, I believe we will be profitable,” Ang said.

PAL Holdings Inc reported a comprehensive loss of P4.13 billion ending March 2013, an improvement of six percent from the previous fiscal year’s total comprehensive loss of P4.38 billion. Revenues amounted to P74.03 billion, down by 0.04 percent from the previous year’s P74.05 billion.

The San Miguel Group is running both PAL and PAL Express, after Lucio Tan sold a 49 percent stake in both carriers to the diversifying food-and-beverage conglomerate giant.

Source: Remar Dungca

Philippine Airlines To FLy Boeing 777 To US


Boeing 777-300ER to the US
Boeing 777-300ER to the US

MANILA, Philippines – The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has allowed national flag carrier Philippines Airlines (PAL) to use its brand-new aircraft for flights to the United States.

PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang confirmed the FAA approval in a text message to reporters.

The FAA’s green light to PAL came less than a month after it restored the aviation safety rating of the Philippines to Category 1 status.

This means that PAL can now use the newer and more efficient Boeing 777 for flights to the US instead of the Boeing 747.

Ang earlier said PAL could save at least $160 million a year – $100 million in fuel savings and $60 million for maintenance – by using the more efficient Boeing 777 for US flights.

PAL has 6 newly-acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft ready to ply the Manila-US route.

PAL currently operates 26 weekly flights to the US covering Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.

Ang said PAL will continue to use its new wide body Airbus A330-300s and single-aisle A320-200s for flights to Honolulu and Guam.

PAL is planning to resume flights to New York, which ceased in 1997 due to the Asian financial crisis, and to expand to Chicago.

Source: Rappler.com

ANALYSIS: Philippines On The Verge Of Tourism Boom After Aviation Upgrades


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Central Business District of Makati City, Philippines

MANILA – With local carriers cleared to expand in the US and Europe, the Philippines is on the verge of a tourism boom.

After more than six years in Category 2, the Federal Aviation Administration earlier today announced the Philippines’ return to Category 1 safety rating, allowing local airlines to mount more flights to the US.

Hours later, the European Union delivered the day’s second good news: Cebu Pacific can now fly to Europe.

Brussels’ decision comes months after it allowed Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume flights following a three-year absence, and almost a year since the International Civil Aviation Office (ICAO) lifted the significant safety concerns on the Philippines’ main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

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Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. told Interaksyon.com that the latest two certifications are going to have a “massive” impact on Philippine tourism.

“Connectivity and accessibility are crucial to growth. We are ecstatic with these developments.  We are back on track,” Jimenez said.

He said the Department of Tourism (DOT) may revise its targets because of the upgrades even though there’s “not enough data yet to change projections.”

“We shall see how travel operators react and then we will know,” he said.

To be sure, the government hasn’t been waiting on the sidelines for tourists to come.

The DOT has been promoting the country through a campaign dubbed as “More Fun in the Philippines,” which has won international plaudits and allowed tourist arrivals to hit fresh records.

Last year, the country attracted 4.68 million foreign visitors, up 9.56 percent year-on-year.

For this year and next, the government is aiming for 6.8 million and 8.2 million, respectively, so that by the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term,  arrivals would have reached 10 million, with receipts of P455 billion.

The top visitors so far have been the Koreans, Chinese and Japanese – the result of the Philippines’ efforts to liberalize the country’s airspace, allowing local carriers to fly across Asia and Asian airlines to enter more points in the country.

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Optimal connectivity

The aviation safety upgrades from the US and EU would further open these markets. Data from DOT show that visitors from the US reached 674,564 in 2013, up by 3.36 percent year-on-year, while those from European markets like the United Kingdom and Germany reaching 122,759 and 70,949 arrivals, respectively.

Rosanna Tuason-Fores, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said the country’s Category 1 status and the removal from the EU blacklist would provide more optimal connectivity in the trans-Pacific region.

“This will also allow us to be competitive as a route not just in the Philippines but also in the whole Asian region. We believe that with this new development, there will be a marked increase in the number of tourist arrivals both from the USA and Europe,” Fores said.

Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said the FAA upgrade and the removal from the EU blacklist would benefit the riding public, who will have improved options for air travel that are world class.

“It will also be a boost to our tourism efforts, because it will open up foreign markets for new and expanded services by Philippine carriers, not only in terms of direct services, but also for other cooperative arrangements like code sharing and interline,” Arcilla said.

Apart from ushering a new era in its trans-Pacific service, the upgrade will also allow PAL to explore possible airline partnerships with foreign carriers in order to maximize its growth potential, said the flag carrier’s president Ramon S. Ang.

“This latest development allows us to deploy our modern and fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300ER fleet to the US, and enables us to explore new destination opportunities in one of the Philippines’ largest passenger markets,” Ang said.

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“Back on global aviation map”

Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the upgrade will have significant economic dividends, as carriers mount more direct flights, boosting not only tourism, but also trade and business relations between the Philippines on the one hand, and the US and the EU on the other.

For example, “Philippine air carriers can now open more flights to the United States and have additional routes such as flying to the East Coast,” he added.

Henry J. Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, agreed.

“Tourism will definitely benefit creating more direct connections. Business travel will also gain with more direct flights – that will lead to more business activities between Europe and the Philippines,” Schumacher said.

“This is a great day for Philippine tourism,” he added.

Ang said the FAA upgrade means the Philippines has joined an elite group of only 79 countries that meet the US safety standards.

“This country is definitely back on the global aviation map,” he said.

Following the re-classification, the flag carrier would deploy six Boeing 777-300ERs, acquired at a cost of $1.2 billion, for US flights within a month’s time.

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More infrastructure needed 

But while increasing connectivity is important, the Philippines still has its work cut out in terms of improving infrastructure.

“Building better airports for those flights to arrive at and many other improvements are needed before the full potential of tourism in the Philippines is realized,” John D. Forbes, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) senior adviser told Interaksyon.com.

He said “latent demand” stands at 12 million, thus “continued improvements in policies, infrastructure, and promotion are essential.”

Tourism Congress of the Philippines’ Fores agrees: “Infrastructure development must be accelerated.”

“More airports must be made available to international flights; more hotel rooms must be on hand to accommodate the increase in tourist arrivals,” she added.

To date, the NAIA has already exceeded it maximum annual capacity of 30 million passengers.

The government is well aware of this challenge.

It is looking at building a new international airport either in Sangley Point or Laguna de Bay. PAL also plans to put up a $10 billion airport near Manila – albeit the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said it won’t entertain unsolicited proposals.

Big-ticket projects are being pursued under the Aquino administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, but this has been slow to take off amid technical and other difficulties.

The government last week awarded its largest PPP airport project to date: the P17.2-billion upgrade of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, which next to NAIA is the country’s second biggest international gateway.

Already delayed, the project is now faced with a legal challenge, after a senator asked the Supreme Court to void its award. Whether the High Tribunal would oblige, remains to be seen.

Source: Darwin G. Amojelar, InterAksyon.com

Philippine Airlines Deploy USD 1.2B Boeing Fleet to US


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MANILA — Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s flag carrier, on Thursday said it was ready to implement an expansion plan in the United States, following the reclassification of the country’s aviation safety rating to Category 1.

PAL added that in the wake of the upgrade, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) had rejoined the ranks of the most important aviation nations in the world, made up of select countries that meet the US’s strict standards of aviation safety.

“The upgrade would boost tourism and trade, and open up new and exciting opportunities for the flag carrier,” PAL said in a statement.

PAL added that with the regaining of the Category 1 status, the flag carrier was set to immediately deploy its fleet of newly acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for its long-haul flights to the US.

“With this, passengers can now enjoy nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco aboard new aircraft equipped with the most modern cabin and state-of the-art amenities, including lie-flat beds in business class,” PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said.

“Your flag carrier welcomes the return of the country’s aviation rating to Category 1. This is a culmination of the government’s hard work, as exemplified by the efforts of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to upgrade the country’s international aviation safety standards.”

“This latest development allows us to deploy our modern and fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300ER fleet to the US, and enables us to explore new destination opportunities in one of the Philippines’s largest passenger markets,” he added.

Currently, PAL operates a total of 26 weekly flights to the US, with frequencies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.

The flag carrier said it would deploy six Boeing 777-300ERs, which cost about $1.2 billion, for US flights within a month’s time. For its flights to Honolulu and Guam, PAL will continue to utilize new wide-body Airbus A330-300s and single-aisle A320-200s.

Apart from ushering in a new era in the flag carrier’s transpacific service, Ang added that the upgrade would also allow PAL to explore possible airline partnerships with foreign carriers in order to maximize its growth potential.

Source: Recto Mercene, BusinessMirror