At 82 years old, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) does not look its age.
It was on March 15, 1941 when PAL first operated its first commercial flight from Manila to Baguio City. More than eight decades later, PAL is rolling out new routes and working on fleet expansion, digital innovations, customer service enhancements, and a last-mile cargo delivery service, these while adopting a younger look and more vibrant fleet.
According to PAL president and chief operations officer Capt. Stanley Ng, PAL at 82 is younger than ever and focused intently on enhancing the travel experience of its valued customers.
While facing the great challenge of rebuilding tourism and economic growth, Ng revealed that PAL is responding by ramping up flights, introducing routes to Australia and China that enable the air carrier to fly in more tourists and generate more business, and developing exciting products and services that will bring value to their passengers.
At a media gathering last March 15, PAL unveiled its new look, so that travelers will see more of its refreshed look in airports and on digital platforms starting this month, echoing the airline’s dynamism and energy with 82 years of service and experience.
The flag carrier also announced that it continues to expand its global flight route network to serve the growing passenger demand and support the recovery of tourism and business. Its passengers can now fly direct to Perth, Australia and this will be the first non-stop flight to link the Philippines with Perth and the Western Australia region beginning March 27.
PAL is likewise introducing non-stop flights linking Kalibo in Aklan with Seoul/Incheon in South Korea starting in April, a new regional service targeting tourists visiting Boracay and Central Philippines. The new route will complement recently expanded PAL flights between Clark and Seoul.
It also revealed that having restored most of its mainland China routes in recent weeks, PAL will build up to daily flights to Shanghainese, Guangzhou, Jinjiang, and Xiamen next month, while increasing service to Beijing to six weekly flights in May.
Meanwhile, new island-hopper routes from Clark to Coron in Busuanga and Boracay in Caticlan also next month are expected to further stimulate domestic tourism, according to PAL.
During the event, PAL said it is resuming regular flights between Manila and Macau in April, thereby completing a major expansion of services to eight cities in Greater China. It now offers a combined 42 weekly flights to Hong Kong and Taipei from Manila.
But there’s much more.
PAL disclosed that it is upgrading its wide body fleet to significantly improve the experience of traveling on long-haul flights, even as it reactivates more aircraft that had been parked during the pandemic, with its entire fleet of 75 aircraft expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year. It is currently operating 68 aircraft.
In the long term, Ng said they are looking at restoring the number of their pre-pandemic level of 98, or even more, by 2027 in anticipation of growing passenger activity.
Just recently, PAL took delivery of Airbus 330 wide body aircraft that will service routes to Hawaii, Australia, and other destinations in Asia.
It was reported that the carrier registered an average passenger load factor of around 80 percent in the first quarter, signaling optimism for PAL’s financial performance for this year.
Meanwhile, new experiences being offered to a new port-to-door service that would allow customers to have their shipments delivered directly to their doorsteps, an expansive New Mabuhay Lounge for international departures at NAIA Terminal 1 featuring a contemporary design and a younger and trendier vibe as well as food and beverage service and shower rooms to name a few, the MilesBack program which is an online service portal that would allow passengers to earn miles by shopping with PAL partner merchants, a reworked customer service hub called YourPal, and many more.
For his part, PAL director Lucio Tan III said that at 82, the airline is younger and more dynamic as it keeps pace with its customers.
Last December, PAL revealed that it is targeting a P10 billion income in 2022, a complete turnaround from its voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2021. This was attributed to the resurgence of air travel following easing of mobility restrictions that adversely affected the entire industry at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the first nine months of 2022, parent firm PAL Holdings, which operates the flag carrier, registered P6.76 billion in net profit which was a complete reversal from the P21.9-billion net loss in the same period in 2021.
In December 2021, PAL announced its exit from a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed in the US as it completed a financial restructuring plan that eliminated $2.1 billion in obligations.
Earlier, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents some 300 airlines in 120 countries, said that after the historic losses incurred by the airline industry of about $140 billion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and the related travel restrictions, it expects the industry to return to profitability this year. This it pointed out would equate to the speediest recovery in the industry’s history in relation to the depth of the downturn.
The industry is expected to show a profit of $4.6 billion on revenues of $779 billion in 2023. IATA likewise revised its forecasts for 2022, from an earlier estimated $9.7 billion in losses to only $6.9 billion based on more favorable financial outcomes reported.
But IATA recognized that there are still many risks that like ahead which could impact the financial performance of airlines in 2023 and these include the current high level of energy prices, slowing global economic growth, high inflation, and the war in Ukraine, not to mention how long China will pursue its zero-COVID policy.
Despite all these, PAL is seemingly unfazed by these challenges.
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