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PAL starts 1st Q400 flight on Cebu-Caticlan route

In photo are (from left) GMR-Megawide Airport Corp.’s Aines Lebrondo, Bombardier director for sales Aman Kocher, PALex president Bonifacio Sam, PAL SVP for finance Marianne Raymundo, Lapu Lapu Vice Mayor Marshall Ycong, Canadian Ambassador John Holmes, Bombardier customer service regional director Rob Burdekin. Behind (from left) are PAL vice president for marketing Ria Domingo, and PAL senior vice president and general counsel Siegfred Mison.

CEBU, Philippines – Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL), the country’s flag carrier, commenced yesterday the first commercial flight of its Q400, the world’s first dual-class 86-seater turboprop from here to Caticlan, moving the company a step closer to its goal of reasserting dominance in the local market.

PAL, chaired by taipan Lucio Tan, hopes to achieve its goal of becoming number one again in the local market within the next two years with the incoming 12 Q400s from Bombardier, the Montreal-based maker of planes and trains.

“Our turboprop re-fleeting program sends a strong message that we want to reassert our dominance in the domestic market. An aircraft with a spacious cabin, complemented by warm and caring service, is the formula that will take us to that goal,” PAL Express president Bonifacio Sam said yesterday during the send-off ceremony for the Cebu-Caticlan flight.

Last month, PAL took delivery of its first new generation Q400 in Bombardier’s facility in Toronto, which arrived in the country on July 26 and was formally entered into service yesterday.

PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista received the new aircraft on behalf of Tan, in a historic delivery ceremony in Toronto last July 20.

PAL will utilize 12 next generation Q400s to expand its domestic network using operational hubs in Manila, Cebu and Clark. Four more will arrive this year and seven are set for delivery before the end of 2019.

By December, Sam said PAL would have daily flights from Cebu to Caticlan and more flights from Clark such as flights to Basco.

“With Bombardier’s support, we are confident the next generation Q400s will  improve our domestic operational efficiencies while providing passengers enhanced comfort,” Sam said.

Bombardier director for sales for Asia and the Pacific Aman Koccher, for his part, said the Q400 is a game changer in the industry.

“This is a game changer when it comes to passenger experience,” Koccher said.

He said the cabin is very quiet unlike other turboprop and that there is premium economy class.

By year-end, PAL will utilize the propeller-driven Q400 and Q300 on seven domestic routes out of Clark and 12 out of Cebu.

At present, PAL flies its fleet of turboprops to Basco, Busuanga, Naga, Calbayog, Catarman, Surigao, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Caticlan, Tacloban, Legazpi, Iloilo, Bacolod and soon to Zamboanga and Iloilo.

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