PAL sets sights on shorthaul expansion

Bautista: currently no plans to add more flights to Europe

Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) network expansion will for now be hewn towards Asian and domestic routes, and less on longhaul.

PAL president and COO Jaime Bautista told TTG Asia, on the sidelines of the recent Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ 62nd Assembly of Presidents in Jeju, of the airline’s expansion strategy amid the continued challenges of congestion at Manila’s international airport, high fuel prices and stiff competition.

Bautista: no plans to add more flights to Europe for now

While the flag carrier will replace the Manila-Vancouver-New York flight with nonstop Manila-New York service on October 29, Bautista ruled out opening new European routes apart from the existing daily Manila-London service.

Also not happening yet is the return of the thrice-weekly Cebu-Los Angeles service that it axed last year.

Since September 15, the Manila-London service has been using an aircraft with a smaller capacity of 295 seats, from the previous 370 seats.

It is understood that Middle Eastern and other carriers pose stiff competition along the routes to Europe from Manila. PAL also faces competition from Asian and American carriers alike on North American routes.

While PAL drastically reduced its flights to Kalibo and Caticlan with the six-month closure of Boracay, Bautista was looking forward to mounting more commercial flights as well as chartered flights from China and South Korea when more hotels open in Boracay next year.

Currently, PAL operates a daily flight to Boracay’s gateway Caticlan from Manila, Cebu and Clark, and a daily flight from Manila to another Boracay gateway, Kalibo.

“We will try to maximise the use of our airplanes operating in hubs where we are expanding, in Cebu, Clark and Manila,” said Bautista, detailing the airline’s Asian and regional expansion. “We have started flying from Clark to 17 major destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao.”

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