Poor airport infrastructure delays PAL’s 5-star goal

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is unlikely to reach for the stars next year, with its goal of soaring to become a five-star carrier pulled down by the country’s poor airport infrastructure.

PAL president Jaime Bautista said the country’s only four-star global airline does not seem to be on course to achieving a five-star rating from Skytrax by next year.

“For the five-star, our plan is really 2020. But you know, we have to be very realistic,” he said.

“One of the requirements of the five-star rating is a very nice, very beautiful lounge. We don’t have that yet here in Manila. Our lounge in Terminal 1 is still being designed because we don’t have our own lounge now. Skytrax said it’s not for five-star,” Bautista said.

In Terminal 2, Bautista said PAL has an old lounge that is also very small.

He said the carrier hopes to have a new lounge should the consortium looking to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport decide to put up a Terminal 2 annex.

Bautista said aside from having “a beautiful lounge,” another major factor hampering the airline’s five-star goal is the current status of the country’s airports.
According to Bautista, overall experience is a criteria in determining the airline ratings, such as how the passengers like their experience in the airport, and not only on board the aircraft.

“On board the airplane, I can tell you we are five-star. The cabin crew and service, five-star. The meals, already almost five-star. The aircraft is five-star. But the airport experience is not so because there’s so much congestion. It’s beyond our control,” Bautista said.

For the check-in alone we will not be able to attain five-star. It’s the lounge and the area in the airport. Terminal 2 is a domestic airport. It’s designed for domestic operations but we’re operating international flights that’s why as much as possible, I wanted all our long haul flights to be in Terminal 1. We need Terminal 2 annex designed for international operations,” he said.

PAL has been undertaking various steps in hopes of becoming a global five-star airline by 2020.

Among the initiatives it has already undertaken are its recent upgrade to a more advanced passenger service system, improvements in products and customer services, as well as fleet and route network expansion.

PAL was recently re-certified by Skytrax as a four-star carrier, according to Bautista.

“But we will strive to continue improving the passenger service. I think what is important is the passengers will be happy on board the aircraft. They may be less happy in the airport, but we’ll try our best to make them happy also. The areas beyond our control, it will really be hard to satisfy passenger expectations,” Bautista said.

PAL has an international route network covering 39 cities in 18 countries, and a domestic network covering 39 cities and towns.  

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