FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will undertake major ventures this year to sustain the four-star rating it recently received from the global aviation industry-rating firm Skytrax.
The airline was recognized for its improved standards of providing service to its customers last February. The rating, according to Skytrax, was an indication of “quality distinction that recognizes excellent standards of product and staff service across different assessment categories for both the onboard and airport environment.” Skytrax completed the quality audit evaluation of PAL in December 2017 after auditing the airline’s in-flight and ground service for international and domestic flights.
First in PAL’s line-up is its introduction of a new line of aircraft that is tailored for mid-size markets on medium-range routes. The new Airbus A321neo has been slated for delivery in March and will be deployed on the new Manila-Brisbane non-stop route in May this year.
With the A321neo, PAL becomes the first Asian airline to utilize a narrow-bodied aircraft equipped with 12 full-flat business class seats. The 168 business class and economy seats on the A321neo also have in-seat video monitors, the first for PAL’s single-aisle aircraft fleet. It is also loaded with more than 300 hours of in-flight entertainment while its economy seats are more spacious with wider legroom. Meanwhile, the eco-friendly and powerful A321neo engines can generate less noise and fly up to a maximum of eight hours. The whole cabin also offers free Wi-Fi connectivity.
A total of six A321neo and four Airbus A350-900s will be delivered within 2018. The A350-900s, equipped with exciting cabin features in PAL’s most luxurious business class, premium economy and economy class cabins to date, will start arriving in June, allowing PAL to deploy non-stop flights to the US East Coast through the polar region, along with more routes to European cities. First up is the non-stop service from Manila to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport by October with services to Seattle and Chicago and a point in Western Europe in the pipeline afterward.
As part of its “multi-hub” network strategy, PAL will continue to beef up its flight networks originating from Clark, Cebu and Davao. A new Davao-Siargao route also opens this year, even as PAL hikes Cebu-Bangkok services from thrice weekly to daily, for the April to October summer schedule period.
In line with its global airline status providing vital international links, PAL will keep on offering the only direct airline services from the Philippines to Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, the US East Coast and West Coast, Hawaii, Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia, as well as the only flights between Bohol and South Korea, and between Cebu and the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Nagoya. The A321neos will be utilized on the non-stop flights to Brisbane and from Manila to Sapporo in Japan as well as New Delhi and Mumbai in India.
Another major initiative is the ongoing construction of a 900-square-meter, two-story Mabuhay Lounge to rise adjacent to the North Wing of PAL’s Terminal 2 hub at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The new lounge will also have luxurious facilities that include a wide dining area, private showers, massage area, meeting rooms, bar lounge, children’s play area, Wi-Fi connection and the signature PAL buffet area.
The lounge, ideal for departing passengers as well as those with connecting PAL flights, will accommodate business class passengers as well as Premier Elite and Million Milers members of PAL’s Mabuhay Miles frequent flyer program. The existing T2 International Mabuhay Lounge will be maintained for other premium passengers.
Other PAL lounges in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, General Santos and San Francisco, California will also be renovated, if not expanded with a new look based on the soon-to-be-unveiled visual branding. The new lounges in Puerto Princesa and Cagayan de Oro will also be opened within the year. A new PAL Mabuhay Lounge at the 4th floor of NAIA Terminal 1 will be opened, covering 750 square meters for PAL passengers departing at that terminal.
Today, PAL also continues to play a role in helping distressed Filipinos who need urgent repatriation to the homeland. The flag carrier is coordinating with the Departments of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to accommodate affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on PAL’s four weekly flights from Kuwait to Manila without any charges. This serves as PAL’s response to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for the flag carrier to provide a special repatriation support to distressed OFWs in Kuwait.