MANILA (UPDATE) — Philippine Airlines said Friday it would pursue all remedies available to keep its Los Angeles flights at the main Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
US airport authorities have moved PAL's departing and arriving LA flights to the new Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) of TBIT at Los LAX starting June 1, to which PAL has protested, it said in a statement.
The MSC gates are in a separate concourse connected to the main TBIT area through an underground tunnel, the flag carrier said.
PAL said it has raised an "important consideration" that a large number of Filipino-American and visiting Filipino travelers are senior citizens or persons with disabilities who would be better served if the boarding gates are located closer to the check-in and security areas.
"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that the Airport’s decision may cause you. PAL has appealed urgently to the airport authority to reconsider the decision to move PAL flights from the TBIT to the MSC; PAL also is seeking assistance from city officials," the airline said.
"We will continue to pursue all available remedies in the hope that our flights will be retained at the original gates of the main terminal TBIT concourse for the well-being and convenience of our valued passengers," PAL said.
Due to the gate transfer, passengers are advised of the following:
- Additional walk time to and from aircraft gates. Allot 20 minutes additional time to walk to departure gates at the MSC terminal. From the TBIT main concourse, after clearing security, passengers will need to access the tunnel walkway via escalators, elevators and moving walkways.
- There will be terminal transfer vehicles (similar to golf carts) available for passengers who are unable to walk the full distance. Please allot extra time in case of limited availability of these transfer vehicles. Passengers using wheelchairs will also need to take elevators.
- Limited shops and food service facilities at the MSC terminal.
- No change in check-in or arrival location. All departing PAL passengers will check-in at the TBIT and all arriving PAL passengers will claim baggage and clear immigration and customs at the TBIT.
The dialogue with authorities continues, the airline said. Updates will be issued once available, it added.
PAL operates daily flights between LA and Manila.
In a statement, LAX operator Los Angeles World Airports said gate allocations for airlines were determined "through a transparent process" that included PAL starting August 2018.
Heath Montgomery, LAWA public relations director, said the move was meant to optimize operations at the airport that took into consideration several factors including improving passenger transfer experience, minimizing use of remote gates, and projected airline and airport growth.
"Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) strongly values its longstanding relationship with Philippine Airlines and the Filipino residents of and visitors to Los Angeles, and we look forward to providing an outstanding guest experience for Philippine Airlines passengers at LAX for many years to come," Montgomery said in a statement sent to ABS-CBN News.
He said the Tom Bradley terminal's new West Gates is a "state-of-the-art facility with passenger amenities and services that will provide an excellent guest experience for passengers of the many international and domestic airlines that will operate there."
"Absent the new West Gates at Tom Bradley, it would be necessary for more flights to operate at the Remote Gates, to which Philippine Airlines flights routinely were assigned prior to COVID-19, and which provide a notably inferior guest experience and require busing of passengers," he said.
The facility is connected to the Tom Bradly terminal by a pedestrian tunnel, and moving walkways and passenger transport services are also available, he said.
— with a report from Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News