“We want Philippine Airlines to be a source of pride for Filipinos,” declared PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista at a press conference on Tuesday, a day before the flag carrier marks its 75th anniversary with a grand gala at Solaire Resort and Casino on March 16.
Several years into major re-fleeting and continuous route expansions, Asia’s first and oldest commercial airline is still bent on reclaiming its former glory as the region’s premiere carrier, guided by its new philosophy to reach out to the “Heart of the Filipino,” wherever in the world they may be.
Bautista pointed out, “The country’s national flag carrier aims to continue its legacy of service to the nation and the rest of the world, leveraging on the strengths of the brand. We take pride in the fact that PAL is the only Filipino legacy carrier offering the distinct brand of service marked by heartfelt warmth and hospitality. We take pride in the over-all safety and service competence of the team.”
True to their word, in the lead up to this 75th milestone, PAL has indeed opened services even to countries that are not initially commercially viable, but nevertheless, populated by Filipino immigrants. In the last quarter of 2015 alone, the airline began flights to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and to Auckland in New Zealand in successive launches.
“As of now, PAL is considered a three-star airline. In five years, we aim to become a five-star airline,” Bautista continued. “We aim to achieve this goal with continued service innovations, route network expansion and fleet modernization as flagship initiatives. Our goal is to make PAL the airline of choice in all the markets we serve and to exceed passenger expectations.”
Bautista also proudly announced the airline’s latest US network expansion with three weekly flights between Cebu and Los Angeles, beginning March 15. This is in addition to PAL’s current US routes, all departing from Manila with non-stop flights to to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Honolulu and Guam.
He further enumerated that PAL will launch five weekly flights from Manila to Doha, Qatar starting March 28 as part of an ongoing Middle East route expansion. After that, they will begin twice weekly flights to Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands on June 15.
To improve connectivity across various routes, the airline will open daily services between Taipei and Kansai on June 25 (daily flights) and Abu Dhabi and Doha on March 28 (five weekly flights).
Another new move is to increase the frequency of flights based on demand, namely to Riyadh from six to seven flights (March 27); to Darwin and Brisbane on from three to four (March 28); to Canton from four to five (May 1); to London from five to six (June 4) and from six to seven (June 28); to Taipei from seven to 11 (June 25); to Kansai from seven to 14 (June 25; and to Peking from four to eight (July 1).
PAL is also considering expansion in Europe, assessing four new destinations: Paris (France), Amsterdam (The Netherland), Hamburg (Germany) and Rome (Italy). “When the new, long-range A350-900s arrive, we will be capable to mount more non-stop flights to Europe,” said Bautista. At present, PAL flies only to London.
Currently, PAL’s route network covers 43 international and 30 domestic destinations.
Meanwhile, Bautista also announced that PAL is adding six Airbus A350-900s to its fleet, bringing the flag carrier’s aircrafts to 75 in total.
To enhance customer service and satisfaction, the airline has launched on its 75th anniversary myPAL e-Suite, an inflight entertainment system with upgraded content. Other innovations in the category include myPAL player free inflight entertainment app; myPAL Wifi and MyPAL Mobile.
Well-received too is the airline’s ongoing promo fare of up to 75 percent off on selected flights from March 15 to 19 in celebration of its 75th anniversary.
Besides the said upgrades, PAL also launched its newest jingle aptly titled “Pusong Pilipino,” featuring Lea Salonga, Sarah Geronimo and Bamboo.
One of the largest Asian airlines before it was severely affected by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, Philippine Airlines is slowly gaining its lost glory with its continues service innovations, route network expansion and fleet modernization.