PAL embarks on P3.5-B fleet renovation program

() - February 6, 2008 - 12:00am

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has started a P3.5-billion renovation program for its wide-body fleet, highlighted by the reconfiguration of the passenger cabin from a tri-class to bi-class layout along with a major upgrade of the interiors and amenities.

The project, which covers PAL’s five Boeing 747-400 and four Airbus A340-300 aircraft, will be implemented in phases, with the first aircraft sporting the new interiors in June 2008. The entire program is due to be completed by the last quarter of 2009.

During the transition period, from now until the roll out of the last reconfigured aircraft, all B747-400 and A340-300 flights will be booked as bi-class flights, PAL said in a statement.

The project involves the installation of state-of-the-art inflight entertainment systems, new business class and economy class seats, and the infusion of a new, modern look that emulates the tranquil seas and sandy beaches of the Philippines.

The wide-body reconfiguration dovetails the ongoing modernization program for PAL’s narrow-body fleet that features many of the same key elements such as audio/video on-demand (AVOD) technology, German-made Recaro seats and tropical-themed cabin interiors.

The major modification is the reconfiguration of the wide-body aircraft layout from the current tri-class to bi-class, which involves the expansion of the Mabuhay (Business) Class section into the erstwhile First Class section.

PAL said the move is intended to address the growing popularity of business class service and the competitive pressures to upgrade the service.

The focal point of the new Mabuhay Class cabin is the luxurious “cocoon” seats supplied by Recaro of Germany. The new seat has a fixed privacy shell that enables the passenger to enjoy utmost privacy while an ergonomic design transforms it into a lie-flat bed.

The seats are adjustable to a variety of positions at the passenger’s option. Each seat is equipped with its own programmable position controls with memory, individual directional LED reading light, oversized tray table and bottle holder.

Fiesta (Economy) Class passengers will likewise benefit from the technology as their new seats, also from Recaro, will be ergonomically designed with new-generation thinner seatbacks to provide bigger “living space” and enhanced passenger comfort.

Cabin aesthetics will likewise be enhanced, PAL said, with a modern look and ambience that evokes the coastal areas of the Philippines - one of the signature elements of the flag carrier’s service.

Fiesta Class seats feature the same undulating wave-pattern design in a blue, aqua and terracotta palette.

Further, the entire cabin on reconfigured aircraft will be equipped with AVOD (audio-video on demand) technology - a fully digital inflight entertainment system that enables both Mabuhay and Fiesta Class passengers to choose from a full library of video and audio content.

Each seat will be outfitted with personal TV and passengers can start, pause, rewind and fast-forward any of the video programs at any time using the touch-screen controls or the passenger control units.

The AVOD system gives passengers a wide range of digital on-demand entertainment options - they can individually select from a variety of digital games and entertainment programs anytime.

The selection includes 18 of the latest Hollywood movies, two Tagalog-language films, eight popular TV programs, 12 radio channels and 50 CD albums.

Each passenger can also create his own audio playlist from the collection of CD albums. On-screen instructions are available in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Finally, the upgraded interiors and advanced technology will be complemented by a new inflight-meal service method in Mabuhay Class, dubbed “One by One”, where the service is designed to fit each passenger’s individual needs.

The new approach is an a la carte service also where passengers can select their own meal from a variety of choices. Each dish is exquisitely plated by the cabin crew, giving every meal a distinctive and tailored touch, in the tradition of fine-dining restaurants.

The new “on-demand” style of meal service allows passengers to partake their meals anytime during the flight.

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