PAL to offer faster Europe flights

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Jul 10 2013 11:13 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2013 07:24 AM

MANILA - Airline passengers going to and from European destinations will enjoy faster flights because of the the European Commission's (EC) decision to lift its ban on Philippine Airlines, the flag carrier's president and chief operating officer said Wednesday.

Ramon Ang, in an interview on ANC Business Nightly, said starting in either October or November, PAL will offer non-stop flights to Europe.

"Our flights will be around 13 hours one-way, compared to Middle East airlines," he said.

Ang said the average length of a flight to Europe via the Middle East is currently around 18 to 24 hours per trip. "You still have to wait for several hours in their hubs."

He also said PAL's ticket prices will be "very competitive."

"For example, today, Manila to London on economy roundtrip is around $1,200. We should be at par with that," he said.

Ang said PAL has a number of flight entitlements to Europe.

"Seven times a week flights to London, seven times a week flights to Paris, other destinations," he said.

"We still have to wait for October, we have to make arrangements with all these airports for the slots," Ang explained. "When we start flying to London and all these other destinations, we want to make all these flights daily."

He said the resumption of PAL flights to Europe will improve the airline's profitability.

"It will right away improve. We have all these long-range aircraft, the 777s, the long-range Airbus. We'll improve profitability," he said.

More US non-stop flights?

Ang is also bullish on the possibility of the Philippine aviation sector getting an upgrade from the US Federal Aviation Administration, which will mean more PAL flights to mainland US.

"The most important thing about trans-Pacific USA... we will be able to use our 6 units of brand new Boeing 777s and by using those aircraft, we will be able to save millions of dollars just on fuel per year," he said.

Ang said PAL management is initially thinking offering new flights to East Coast destinations such as New York, Chicago, and Florida.

"Non-stop, too, Manila to New York," he said. "Our aircraft are able to do non-stop going there, but coming back, we need to do a pit stop."

On Wednesday, European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux announced that the EU has partially lifted a 3-year-old ban on Philippine carriers. 

The ban was imposed in 2010, a year after US aviation authorities tagged the Philippine airline industry as a "significant safety concern."

Ledoux said PAL can return to European skies starting July 12 after the airline met safety standards.

The decision does not cover Cebu Pacific, which announced plans to take part in an EU Air Safety Commission meeting later this year. - with ANC