PAL sees off last jumbo jet's final flight

By Recto Mercene, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 30 2014 10:47 AM | Updated as of Aug 30 2014 06:48 PM

MANILA – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) bid good-bye to the last Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet, as it sets off its final commercial flight on Friday night for San Francisco before returning to Manila early-morning Monday.

The flight draws to a close an illustrious 35 years of memorable flying experience both for passengers and PAL crew members.

The last arrival, PR 105, will be given a water-canon salute by airport firetrucks when it lands at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on September 1.

The title “flagship aircraft” was transferred from the B747-400 to the B777-300ER in an emotional ceremony on May 12 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. The original jumbo jet—the B747 series 200—arrived in Manila in December 1979. It required several airport-terminal facilities modifications due to its size.

PAL deployed the B747s on its long-haul and high-density routes, such as North America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. PAL pioneered using full-flat beds, called Skybeds, for first-class passengers installed on the upper deck of the B747s.

The last PAL B747-400, with registry number RP-C7473, joined the fleet on April 1, 1995.

The first PAL B747-400 arrived in November 1993 from the Boeing manufacturing plant in Seattle, Washington, USA, carrying former President Fidel V. Ramos, who attended the Apec meeting in Seattle.

PAL said that it is retiring its Boeing B747 aircraft to give way for the full utilization of Boeing 777-300 series.

PAL has decided to extend the service of B747-400 aircraft to San Francisco from June 30 to August 30.

PAL added that in a statement it plans to increase the deployment of Boeing B777 to San Francisco from two to full flights weekly. PAL said it ordered the Boeing 777 aircraft in 2006, with the hopes of reducing fuel and maintenance costs, particularly on flights to the US.

But this was only realized after the US Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the country’s aviation-safety status to Category 1 on April 10, after more than six years under the restrictive Category 2 status.

The PR102/103 flight between Manila and Los Angeles is already operated daily by the Boeing 777. The B777 aircraft also serves flights to Vancouver, Toronto and London. Philippine Airlines currently has a total of six Boeing 777 aircraft in the service.