PAL EXPANDS WITH NEW ASIAN ROUTES, INCREASED FLIGHTS
Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s only 4-Star global airline, ramps up operations in the Asian region by launching new routes to Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and New Delhi (India) from its Manila hub, starting this summer season.
This latest expansion by the award-winning flag carrier creates the first direct air link between the Philippines and the capital of Cambodia, expands PAL’s existing Vietnam network and re-establishes a historic link to India with immense potential for tourism development.
“Philippine Airlines' strategic vision is to make the Philippines a true gateway to Asia. We are the Southeast Asian airline with the biggest and most extensive network of direct flights to the US and Canada, and thus we can be the leader in carrying North American travelers to India, Cambodia and Vietnam via our Manila hub,” emphasized PAL President and COO Jaime J. Bautista. “We will leverage Manila’s excellent geographical location as an ideal stopover point for people flying to Southeast and South Asia from the East and West Coasts of North America.”
PAL currently operates 43 weekly flights nonstop from six North American destinations: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Honolulu and Vancouver. This comprehensive network, flown by PAL’s latest-technology Boeing 777, Airbus A350 and Airbus A330 aircraft, will generate passenger travel flows into Hanoi, Delhi, Phnom Penh and other destinations in the ASEAN region and beyond. (PAL additionally operates seven weekly flights from the U.S. territory of Guam.)
NEW LINKS TO VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA
“Vietnam and Cambodia are emerging markets and economic centers that need connections to the rest of the world. We are excited to introduce their excellent tourist attractions to more and more Western travelers, including Filipino Americans,” added Mr. Bautista. “PAL also looks forward to serving the many ethnic Vietnamese and Cambodian people who are now US and Canadian citizens.”
As the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi offers a harmonious fusion of East and West, combining Vietnamese and French cultures reflected in its heritage architecture and world-renowned cuisine. Vietnam has posted among the highest economic growth records in Southeast Asia, fueling an increase in overseas travel by its own citizens.
Phnom Penh is an emerging tourist mecca noted for its vibrant street life, arts scene, museums and historical Khmer architecture, including its famed Royal Palace. The capital city’s newly expanded airport serves as gateway to Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and other popular destinations in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Flights between Manila and Hanoi will operate four times weekly (Monday/Wednesday/Friday/ Sunday) starting March 31, 2019 with PR 595 departing at 10:25 PM and arriving at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport at 12:45 AM the following day. Return flights via PR 596 leave Hanoi every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 1:45 AM and touch down in Manila at 5:30 AM.
Flights between Manila and Phnom Penh will operate five times weekly (Monday/Tuesday/ Thursday/Friday/Saturday) starting April 1, 2019 with PR 521 departing at 10:10 PM and arriving at Phnom Penh International Airport at 11:45 PM. Return flights via PR 522 leave Phnom Penh every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 12:45 AM and touch down in Manila at 4:20 AM.
PAL will maintain its current 8 weekly flights between Manila and Vietnam’s commercial hub, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), a city served by the flag carrier since the mid-1980s.
RESUMPTION OF SERVICE TO INDIA
The long-heralded return of PAL to the Indian market will provide a welcome boost to the tourism industries of both the Philippines and India. The airline previously flew the Manila – Delhi route from 2011 to 2013, with most flights making costly stopovers in Bangkok due to the limited range of the Airbus A320 aircraft then in use. PAL also served Kolkata (Calcutta) as a key stopover point on the flag carrier’s multi-stop Manila-Europe services in the 1950s.
PAL is targeting April 2019 as the start of the New Delhi service subject to final slot and operational clearances with the Indian authorities. The new route is slated to run four times weekly nonstop between Manila and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport using brand-new Airbus A321neo aircraft.
Said Mr. Bautista: “India is the air travel growth market of the future and a new economic power, so our link to Delhi improves the Philippines’ connectivity with the global economy. We are enthusiastic about our new Delhi route because, for the first time, we have the right-sized aircraft for the Indian market. Our Airbus A321neo’s long-range capability makes direct nonstop flights possible, and this new plane features 168 seats configured specially for long-haul travel, making the 6 hour and 50 minutes Manila-Delhi flight more comfortable and pleasant.”
The A321neo also offers passengers full-flat business class seats, generous legroom and the latest in entertainment systems and Wi-Fi connectivity. The aircraft is also flying nonstop to Sydney, Brisbane, Port Moresby and Sapporo at present. For Hanoi and Phnom Penh, PAL will utilize a 156-seater Airbus A320 and a 199-seater Airbus A321 Classic.
To serve the strategic goal of strengthening the Philippines as a network hub, PAL is also increasing the number of weekly flights to certain destinations during the Summer 2019 travel season, as follows:
- Cebu to Nagoya: from 4 weekly to daily flights
- Manila to Osaka (nonstop): from 7 to 11 weekly flights
- Manila to Bangkok: from 21 to 25 weekly flights
- Manila to Kuala Lumpur: from 7 to 11 weekly flights
- Manila to Jakarta: from 7 to 10 weekly flights
- Manila to Los Angeles: from 14 to 17 times weekly
- Manila to San Francisco: from 10 to 14 times weekly
- Manila to New York JFK: from 5 weekly to daily flights
- Manila to Toronto: from 5 weekly to daily flights
- Manila to Sydney: from 7 to 9 weekly flights
- Manila to Brisbane: from 4 to 5 weekly flights
- Manila to Taipei: from 10 to 14 weekly flights
- Manila to Doha: from 4 to 5 weekly flights
The above expansion marks the first time an airline will offer more than four daily flights linking Manila with the U.S. West Coast (totaling 31 weekly flights to California alone) along with daily services on ultra-long-range routes to both New York and Toronto on the US/Canadian East Coast. (PAL’s Manila-New York nonstops are the longest commercial route operated by any airline to New York’s JFK Airport, and the eighth longest commercial airline route in the world.)
The expanded flight frequencies will give PAL passengers the increased flexibility to choose from a wider array of flight departure and arrival times for greater convenience. Travelers will also be able to connect more easily across the airline's international and domestic route network, thus supporting the Philippines’ position as an aviation hub.
PAL shall continue to deploy its full fleet of brand-new high-technology aircraft, including the long-range Airbus A350-900, the mid-range A321neo and the tri-class A330 airliners so that more flyers can experience the 4-Star branded service that won accolades for the flag carrier in recent months, including most recently the honors for the World’s Most Improved Airline for 2019 according to AirlineRatings.com.
Photo from Nikkei Asian Review