PAL looking at mounting daily flights to New York

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

NEW YORK – National flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) is looking at mounting daily flights here after flying back to the “Big Apple” after an 18-year hiatus.

PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said in a press conference that the airline is set to increase its flight frequency to New York via Vancouver to seven times a week from the current four times a week.

However, he pointed out that PAL could only mount a maximum five flights a week to New York via Vancouver based on existing agreements with US and Canada.

Bautista said PAL has already relayed the intention of the airline for additional seat entitlements out of Canada during a meeting with the Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines.

“If and when we are able to get these entitlements we should be able to increase our flights. In fact our people want a daily flight because a daily flight is a better product than four times a week,” he added.

PAL flew to New York in September 1996 but stopped the service in August 1997 due to aeropolitical reasons.

Bautista explained that PAL would focus first on New York before expanding to other destinations where there about three million Filipinos after the US Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the aviation safety ratings of the Philippines back to Category 1 from Category 2 in April last year.

There are about half a million Filipinos in the East Coast including 253,000 in New York and New Jersey area, about 90,000 in Virginia, about 75,000 in Washington DC, and 31,000 in Philadelphia.

During the inaugural flight to New York via Vancouver last March 15, Bautista said PAL using Boeing 777-300ER carried more than 300 passengers.

However, the return flight to Manila from New York City carried only more than 100 passengers.

“In the early stage of the development of the route we are expecting that this route will become a very busy route. We are expecting that the loads will improve in three to six months,” he added.

To accommodate the flight to New York, PAL increased its flight frequencies to Vancouver to 11 times a week from the current seven times a week.

Taipan Lucio Tan, chairman and chief executive officer of PAL, joined the inaugural flight and said the launch of the new route coincided with the airline’s 74th founding anniversary.

Tan said New York is PAL’s fifth gateway in the US after Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Guam.


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