Amadeus bags deals with local airlines

Adds Cebu Pacific and Seair to its fortfolio

BY Ben Arnold O. de Vera
Manila Times

December 29, 2009

Amadeus Philippines, an information technology (IT) solutions provider to tourism industry players, said it has forged agreements with three local airlines.

In a statement, Albert Villadolid, Amadeus Philippines general manager, said the company has signed long-term deals with Cebu Pacific, South East Asian Airlines, and Zest Airways, so that these carriers’ destinations would be distributed globally using Amadeus’ Global Distribution System (GDS).

These three carriers hold about 60 percent of the domestic market, with a total of 83 interlocking local destinations, the company said.

Amadeus GDS is currently used by about 2,000 travel agencies in the Philippines and about 102,000 worldwide.

“We greatly appreciate the confidence given to us by the country’s domestic carriers. By using Amadeus technology, these Philippine-based airlines can benefit from our extensive local and global distribution network and are assured that their capacities and destinations will be maximized,” Villadolid said.

He added that through Amadeus GDS, the three airlines would be able to access international markets “because of the company’s unrivalled reach and volume.”

Q400 Gears haunts PAL again

Strands Passengers at Zamboanga Airport

December 22 2009

by Monch L. Follosco and Riza Lacbao

Zamboanga City - Hundreds of passengers bound for Cebu City were stranded after their plane encountered mechanical trouble yesterday afternoon at the Zamboanga City International Airport (ZCIA).

Philippine Air Lines Express PR-273, which was scheduled to depart from Zamboanga to Cebu, had to cancel its flight after the plane’s hydraulic front gear exploded.

ZCIA Manager Celso Bayabos told local reporters that PAL airplace encountered mechanical trouble after its hydraulic front gear got leaked and exploded along the runway of the city’s airport.

The plane landed in the airport before 2 o’clock in the afternooon from Davao and was scheduled to depart from Zamboanga City to Cebu City at 2:10 p.m., according to Bayabos.

Airport personnel immediately asked the assistance of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for the use of tow truck and tow bar to clear the runway for other incoming airplanes.

As of this writing, Bayabos said: “The passengers are safe and we still don’t know if they will cancel the flight for Cebu City.” Bayabos, however, said that there is no problem with the runway “this was the first time to happen with no damage to passengers and they are very safe”.

It was learned from local media that hundreds of passengers waited in the departure (terminal area).

PAL Branch Manager Lolito Galarrita has no comment as he was busy attending clients pending the official report of the incident.

PAF orders 8 new PZL W-3WA Sokół

PZL Swidnik won 2.8 Billion bid

December 21, 2009

Manila- The Philippine Air Force has officially ordered eight (8) W-3 Sokół combat utility helicopter from manufacturer WSK-PZL Świdnik S.A of Poland in a deal worth two billion eight hundred fifty seven million eight hundred sixty four thousand six hundred twenty five pesos (P2,857,864,625.18). Defense Secretary Norberto B. Gonzales announced the award for the combat utility helicopter during the weekend.

The W-3WA Sokół (falcon) made its first flight on July 30, 1992 and has a capacity for two crew and twelve passengers. The W-3WA has been certified by US FAR Pt 29 standards granted in May 1993 and European certification granted in December 1993.

"This is the culmination of our negotiation with the supplier. Secretary Teodoro approved the negotiated procurement of P3 billion worth of combat utility helicopters last June after two successive failure of bidding process." Secretary Gonzales said.

"The project has been two years overdue and I think its about time" says Gonzales after awarding the contract to Warsaw based helicopter manufacturer.

The budget for the combat utility helicopter (CUH) project had been released by Malacanang as early as 2007 but no firm has submitted bid proposal according to specifications and budget in two succeeding bids. The budget was part of the P5-billion modernization fund for 2007 aimed to replaced UH-1H Huey helicopters in the Air Force Fleet.

“PZL was found to have the best possible offer based on the budget so after extensive negotiation we awarded it to them” said Gonzales.

The Department of Defense is also acquiring P3 billion worth of night capable attack (NCAH) helicopters, whose bidding had also failed twice. Gonzales said that a negotiated procurement with the US Department of Defense for the purchase of second-hand attack helicopters with the same night capability is already in the works and they are hoping to seal the deal before President Arroyo's term end.

The P3 billion fund was originally part of the P5 billion budget released by President Arroyo for the purchase of combat utility and night-capable attack helicopters that formed part of the AFP Capability Upgrade Program. Additional budget of 1 billion was appropriated by the President this year adding more fund to the project.

A total of 34 priority items are included in the first phase of the re-prioritized AFP CUP shopping list, 62 in Phase 2, and 39 items in Phase 2-B.

Technical data for PZL Swidnik W-3

Engine: 2 x PZL-10V turboshaft, rated at 662kW, main rotor diameter: 15.7m, length with rotors turning: 18.79m, fuselage length: 14.21m, height: 4.2m, take-off weight: 6400kg, empty weight: 3630kg, cruising speed: 238km/h, hovering ceiling, IGE: 3200m, range: 745km, payload: 2100kg,

PAL beefs up flights for the holidays

Upgrades some International and domestic routes

December 18, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced Thursday that it has added domestic and international flight frequencies, new routes, and bigger aircraft to accommodate the expected rise in travelers during the duration of the holiday season.

In a Press Statement, the airline said that additional weekly frequencies on certain trans-Pacific and two domestic routes were increased while flights to Australia, Guam and several regional destinations were upgraded to bigger aircraft to meet demand.

The frequencies to Vancouver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Sydney and Melbourne have been increased by one to two more flights per week, while two to three weekly flights were added to Singapore and Bangkok.

A total of eight international charters and two extra flights are also scheduled on various routes and dates stated as follows:

* Taipei-Kalibo-Taipei: December 16, 2009 to March 27, 2010
* Cebu-Incheon (South Korea)-Cebu: December 24, 2009 onwards
* Manila-Kansai (Japan)-Cebu-Manila: December 30, 2009
* Manila-Cebu-Kansai-Manila: January 3, 2010
* Manila-Haneda (Japan)-Cebu: December 30, 2009
* Cebu-Haneda-Manila: January 2, 2010
* Cebu-Narita-Cebu: January 4, 2010
* Cebu-Narita-Manila: January 8, 2010

PAL said that due to heavy passenger demand for the routes, they will also use bigger aircraft on the following destinations:

* Melbourne-Sydney: December 18 to 19, 2009 (B747-400)
* Guam: December 18 to 19, 2009 and January 2 to 3, 2010 (A330)
* Singapore: January 2 and 3, 2010 (A330)
* Hong Kong: December 20 and 26, and January 2 and 3, 2010 (B747, A330, and B777-300ER)
* Macau: December 20, 2009 and January 3, 2010 (A330)
* Bangkok: December 26, 29, and 30, 2009, and January 3, 2010 (B747-400)

The airline also said that a thrice-a-day flights to Kalibo were increased to 29 flights a week, while the daily service to Butuan was increased to 11 times a week.

Meanwhile, Boracay-bound passengers will find the thrice-a-day flights to Kalibo increased to 29 flights a week. PAL also hiked the daily service to Butuan to 11 times a week. Special flight to Dipolog as well as other domestic destinations are also scheduled for the holiday season.

RP-Oman air talks result in 17 more flights

Up from a single flight entitlement to Manila

December 17, 2009

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Oman Air Airbus 330. The airline is scheduled to commence flight operation to the Philippines sometime next year after the new ASA granted 15 more flights entitlement to four airports in the Philippines from the original two .

Air Services Agreement (ASA) between Oman and the Philippines approved entitlements for 17 direct flights between the two countries, CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said yesterday.

Arcilla said that the new entitlements will add 16 more flight to Muscat from the previous unused one flight each to and from Manila and Cebu. Philippine Airlines used to service the route before they suffered financial problems in 1998.

He further said that these existing flight entitlements have not been used by any airline carriers from both countries after the financial troubles of PAL, but state airline Oman Air has already signified its interest in servicing Manila route.

"We now have four new flights going to Manila, seven to the Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Clark, four to Cebu and four to Davao every week," Mr. Arcilla said.

The ASA was formally signed last December 14 in Muscat by the Oman government together with the Philippine air panel composed of officials from the Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, CAB, and representatives from the airline companies.

There are more than 50,000 documented Filipino workers in Oman that currently used the airport facilities of Dubai in going back to the Philippines. With the ASA, Oman Air can now introduce at least three flights a week to the country, a reasonable frequency to sustained regular scheduled flight said an airline representative based in Oman.

Oman air has pending orders for 2 Airbus 330's, one of them scheduled for Muscat-Manila run sometime next year. Official announcement of service is yet to be announced by the airline.

Mactan airport to grace two more bridge

Terminal upgrade in the works

December 16, 2009

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Mactan Cebu International: The airport terminal is scheduled for major upgrade and expansion work next year to handle a capacity increase of 10 million passengers annually. It currently serves 4.5 million passengers in 2009.
Cebu – The Mactan Cebu International Airport will be undergoing a major terminal upgrade and expansion works next year as it embarks on a system-wide 10 million capacity upgrade of its terminal services said its airport manager yesterday.

Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Danilo Augusto Francia said at Marco Polo Plaza Hotel that the project covers a terminal expansion that would add another 6 million passenger capacity to the existing terminal which now handles 4.5 million passengers as of September 2009.

"To rise next to the existing terminal, the new facility will be built to accommodate services offered by five-star airlines and will have a wide range and spectrum of amenities needed by the airlines for their five-star aircraft," Francia said.

The expansion plan covers the installation of two more aerobridges to be installed at the new terminal north of the existing terminal complex to service amenities offered by international carriers Philippine Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and soon to fly Emirates Airlines out of the new terminal which will be used exclusively for international operations. At present, there are 12 airlines using the international gateway facility.

According to Francia, they would also build two more airport lounges for business class passengers at the terminal complex according to the wishes of international airlines operating at the airport. Currently, the existing terminal houses both domestic and international flights.

With the bigger terminal, domestic bound passengers would soon enjoy a larger pre-departure area with capacity of 8 million passengers per annum.

“That will build us with 10.5 M for about 10 more years or so.” Francia adds.

Three bidders who would undertake the project are already shortlisted for post qualification and construction work is scheduled to be performed as early as March next year.

Francia also notes that while international passengers is in decline this year due to the global recession, domestic passengers continue to soar growing thirty percent (30%) from last year's figure. He said that from January to June, the airport had a negative nine percent (-9%) growth in terms of international arrivals but had recovered to register some positive gains in succeeding months but is not enough to arrest the annual decline.

Domestic arrivals on the other hand was mainly fueled by price war between local airlines resulting to bringing down of prices in air fare by Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Zest Air and Philippine Airlines, prompting passengers to fly more often thus the substantial increase.

PAL adds Taipie from Kalibo

More foreign flights seen out of Kalibo

by Venus G. Villanueva
December 15, 2009

Kalibo - After having direct regular flights from Incheon, South Korea that started December 4, the Kalibo International Airport (KIA) will be receiving starting December 16 direct regular [charter] flights from Taipei, Taiwan.

This will be through Philippine Airlines (PAL), which will have its inaugural flight for this route with its first flight bringing in to Aklan a total of 156 passengers.

Team Asia-Pacific Director Ma. Rica Bueno said this current development is PAL's way of supporting the increasing number of tourists from Taiwan who want to visit Boracay Island, Aklan's tourism jewel.

According to Bueno, Boracay Island is the most popular and most -in-demand beach holiday destination for Taiwanese travelers, getting more popular each day with the increase in direct flights from Taiwan of other airlines.

Currently, Mandarin/China Airlines has two direct regular flights weekly from Taipei to Kalibo and vice versa.

As early as September this year, Boracay visitors, composed of foreign and domestic tourists as well as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families, have breached the half-million marked, bringing in P9,318,471,926.00 in tourism receipts for the period. (PIA)

Zest Air opens Singapore

But suspends Clark-Hong Kong flights starting Jan. 3

15 December 2009

MANILA - Low cost carrier ZEST Air (Z2) is set to launch flight to Singapore scheduled to start on Jan. 30, 2010 while manifesting its intention to suspend temporarily the Clark flight to Hong Kong starting Jan. 3, 2010 due to fleet shortage.

The airline said the aircraft withdrawn from Clark is needed to augment the traffic demand for Kalibo and for it to service additional charter flights to Korea in January.

Zest Air also attributes lower than average sales out of Clark airport barely two months after it started flying out to Hong Kong after Cebu Pacific intensified its Clark hub by flooding more seats in December 8, 2009. Cebu Pacific now goes to Hong-Kong daily while Zest airways fly three times weekly, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, leaving Clark at 3:50 p.m.

One senior official from Zest who does not want to be quoted, admits logistical issues as one of the problems plaguing their Clark operation as they cannot efficiently service the route due to limited number of planes on its fleet compounded by the strong demand for seats on other routes.

The airline also suspended its Cebu hub to augment flight demands to Kalibo. They were supposed to receive one MA-60 and one Airbus 320 this month but aircraft delivery was postponed by management until next year.

The carrier currently has a fleet of three Airbus A320, one of them being used for international operations, while the three MA60, a 56-seater turbo-prop plane is used for local destinations.

MASwings to launch international services

Heads to Zamboanga and Davao

December 14, 2009

Kota Kinabalu - Malaysia Airlines wholly-owned subsidiary MASwings, plans to launch international services next year to neighboring countries Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, Makassar via Balikpapan in Indonesia and Davao via Zamboanga in the Philippines.

The airline plans to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Davao via Zamboanga in the Philippines and Makassar via Balikpapan in Indonesia by the middle of next year, MASwings Managing Director Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani said.

MASwings intend to launch three times a week schedule to the Philippines and four times a week for Indonesia sometime in April next year using ATR 72-500 aircraft. A short hop to Bendar Seri Begawan will also be made during the day.

"This is in line with the government-backed BIMP-EAGA, Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia Philippines East Asean Growth Area initiative", says Tabrani. "There is unlikely to be any government subsidies for launching the new services and that the airline will have to ensure these services are economically viable. That is why we are considering a stop in Zamboanga and Balikpapan to increase our chances of success"Tabrani adds.

The airline expects to receive its 10th ATR 72-500 aircraft in April 2010 as part of its re-fleeting program which was started in 2007. It received its first ATR in 2008 and six others followed in 2009.

“Our eight, ninth and 10th ATR 72-500 aircraft will arrive in February, March and April respectively,” Tabrani said after signing an agreement converting its options to firmed orders with ATR sales general manager for South-East Asia and Pacific Christophe Potocki.

Presently MASwings has no further options for more ATR aircraft "but it is something we will look at in the future" particularly "if our expansion into the BIMP-EAGA is working for us".

MASwings started its operations on Oct 1, 2007 and offers more than 950 weekly flights serving 22 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah as well as Labuan. It currently has a fleet of three Fokker 50s, four Twin Otters and seven ATR72s. The ATR 72-500 aircraft has a sitting capacity of 68 people.

Philippine Airlines join APG Interline E-Ticketing

IATA IET Compliant

December 10, 2009

Paris - APG Global Associates Chief Operating Officer (COO) James W. Foster announced that the Philippine national carrier Philippine Airlines (PR-079) have now joined APG IET network in November together with eight other notable airlines including the Turkish national carrier Turkish Airlines (TK-235), and the North American Carrier Pacific Wings (LW-568).

France based company APG launched its Interline Electronic Ticketing (IET) solution in January of 2008 with the aim of consolidating interline e-ticketing agreement connecting 84,000 IATA and ARC travel agencies worldwide (initially in 65 BSPs and ARC) that will be able to issue Interline E-Tickets through GDS.

APG Global Associates is the world's leading network for Airline Distribution and Financial Services. With 82 APG Global Associates and Service Partners, The company is present in 115 countries and have relationships with over 240 airlines. Services include Sales Representation Services, variable cost access to BSPs and ARC systems, Interline E-Ticketing, Airline Passenger Insurance, and ATPCO Fare Filing Services.

APG IET counts today 54 airline partners. New partners are added on a weekly basis and APG Global Associates (APG GA) President, Jean-Louis Baroux announces that “we are targeting 100 carriers by 1st quarter of 2010 and are negotiating with airlines all over the world thanks to the expertise of our global network, APG GA”.

APG IET Product Manager, Majbritt Leenaert explained that APG GA has introduced the APG IET program to airlines worldwide in cooperation with its partner Heli Air Monaco (YO/747) who functions as the validating and issuing carrier of APG IET. It is also great opportunity for any airline to gain new interline volume. In addition, APG IET permits Philippine Airlines seat to be sold and ticketed worldwide in 86 BSPs (IATA Billing and Settlement Plans) and ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation) in the United States.

APG IET benefits are twofold, 1.) It helps small, medium and large airlines to create new interline business opportunities, and 2.) Widens their BSP/ARC market reach on a worldwide basis.

APG IET is open to all IATA and non IATA scheduled airlines, with the sole condition that they are “E-Ticketing eligible” on GDS.

232 Million Jolo airport upgrade completed

December 9, 2009

Zamboanga City- The 232 million pesos US aided Jolo airport upgrade project was recently completed by Manila based construction firm CS Santiago Construction Company and turned over to the ARMM Provincial government headed by Gov. Abdusakur Tan.

Governor Tan said that "with a bigger airport, more planes can now fly and land safely in Sulu and accommodate more passengers not only from Manila or Zamboanga, but also from neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei that make up the East Asia Growth Area as it hasten trade and commerce in the province.” He also thanked the United States government through Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney for funding infrastructure projects in his province.

The project funded by the US government USAid program through Growth for Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Regional Impact Project component, has a budget of $3 million dollars supplemented by 90 million pesos counterpart fund from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with a combined total project cost totalling 232 million pesos says Carlos Tan, program director of GEM Infrastructure Identification and Counterpart Management.

“The runway upgrade covers the rehabilitation of the runway, making it durable for heavy aircraft. The design of the upgrading and improvement is intended to accommodate bigger aircraft such as Boeing737s and Airbus 320's,” Carlos Tan said.

The airport expansion and development project hopes to spur economic and trade investment in the island province long torn by armed conflict says Nonoy Go, President of Jolo Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Go said that the expanded runway is expected to be a selling point to major airlines in the country which shunned operating in the airport, and with them future investors, particularly those involved in the Sulu archipelago’s expanding mariculture industry.

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The airport development project, a partnership between the US and Philippine governments boast a 1,800 meters (ARFL) concrete runway to ensure safer airport operations and higher-capacity air linkages between Zamboanga, Cebu and Manila as well as EAGA countries.
Usman Asgari, OIC airport manager, said the airfield was constructed by the US military in 1944. “It used to be a US airfield covering about 1,000 meters of runway. The Americans used this place at the height of the war against the Japanese,” he said. The macadam airfield was turned over to the Philippine government after the war and accommodated the workhorse of that time C-47 or DC-3, Fokker Friendship and Hawker-Siddily 480 aircraft.

In 1965, then President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the paving and asphalting of the entire runway when he visited the province. The runway was again extended by another 200 meters by Marcos then another 500 meters, Asgari said.

The 1,700 runway was 18 meters wide although only 1,200 meters is paved. It has now been expanded to 30 meters and length stretched from 1,700 meters to 1,830 meters. The airport's total all-concrete runway length is now 1,845 meters by 30 meters.

Engr. Manuel Jamonir, Project Specialist of GEM, said that, “the airport is design to be a 1,800 meters concrete runway. We added an eastward extension of 630 meters and widening to 30 meters.

“The works covered the removal and reconstruction of elevated concrete platform, runway strip clearing, grading and landscaping along the runway up to 75 meters from runway center line at both sides and 60 meters in length from the thresholds”, Eng. Jamonir added.

Jamonir also said that, “the provision of a runway and safety area of 60 meters long at both ends of the runway strip was also included in the runway design. However, the relocation of military and Air force facilities as well as resettlement of residential dwellings affected by the expansion is still to be done as they are also covered in the design of the project”.

On top of that, another 90 million pesos is earmarked for the construction of the new airport terminal next year which in 2008 registered a traffic volume of 18,749 passengers.

Currently, Seair's 18-seater Let 410 commuter plane flies the Zamboanga-Jolo route daily. The airport used to handle as big as PAL Fokker 50 planes and YS-11 of Asian Spirit now Zest Air which service the route years ago until it suspended operations due to corporate takeover.

The airports traffic operation is presently restricted similar to Caticlan airport where it uses only one runway for take-off and landings due to the construction project. Except military use of C-130 for transport of troops, it can only accommodate light commercial aircraft.

“Philippine Airlines [PAL] and Cebu Pacific [CEB] are already studying the viability of opening flights from Zamboanga to Jolo, and possibly direct flights from Manila to Jolo to determine the frequency of their future flights,”Asgari said. Zest Airways [RIT] is also mulling its return to the airport he said.

Jolo Airport. The 1,845 x 30 meters Jolo airport runway showing runway 27 with 400 x 45 meters dimension and 45 meters overrun area. The old airport runway only has 1,200 x 18 meters before it was widened to 30 meters to reclassify it as 3C airport able to accommodate the narrow body jets of major airlines in the Philippines as well those from the BIMP-EAGA region. The airport improvement was a joint project of the Transport Department, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the US Agency for International Development. Photo from Manila Standard Today.

Former Asian Spirit owner diversifies into tourism, air ambulance

A look at Archibald Po

Written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo

BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan—Archibald Po, former majority shareholder of Asian Spirit (now Zest Airways), is now going full blast in his investments in the tourism industry by opening another boutique hotel.

A pilot by profession, Po also recently set up an air ambulance service in Singapore, bringing in patients as far as Nepal and India to hospitals in the city-state.

In an interview, Po said his new resort, called Hotel Soffia, was built at a cost of P100 million under his property concern, Kifessia Realty Corp. “It’s always been a dream of mine to build a hotel on this island, which I passed so often during my flying days in the 1980s.”

Architect/interior designer/master plumber Chi-chi Victoriano, who also did the Amorita Hotel in Bohol, designed the boutique hotel. Because he is an environmentalist, Po explained that the hotel uses only natural lighting aside from its energy-saving light bulbs, solar heaters, and filters its waste in a leaching field which produces fertilizer, instead of emptying into the island’s sewerage system.

It employs 50 employees in three shifts for its round-the-clock operations, making it a “very lean” hotel, he added. Room rates of the hotel are “affordable”, ranging from P3,500 ++ (standard, twin/triple-share) to P5,000 ++ (superior, twin/triple-share).

Although nestled on a hill in barangay Yapak, the hotel, Po said, will attract Boracay tourists who want quiet and privacy, but still need quick access to the restaurant strip and main white beach. “You just relax here and swim in our infinity pool. Or have your cocktails while taking in the 340-degree view of the island. If you want to go to the beach or the party places, we’ll transport you there. It’s only seven minutes away.”

This is the second boutique hotel to his name after the 48-room Hotel Fleuris in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, built at a cost of P90 million. Said to be a “favorite” among diplomatic embassies, consular offices, Fleuris is now on its 11th year of operation, “but it still looks brand new,” said Po. At least 84 percent of Tripadvisor members who have stayed at Fleuris have dubbed it the “cleanest and friendliest” hotel in Puerto Princesa.

Po said he is considering to build another hotel in Basco, Batanes, and is currently evaluating other possible hotel sites in the country.

“I think the Philippines has no way to go except tourism. That is what will save our economy, not manufacturing, which is already the stronghold of China,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Po recently bought a Hawker jet to beef up his fleet of air ambulances via Executive Jets Asia, a company in partnership with other Asian and American air transport experts.

Po said he invested some $4 million in the company, based in Selatar Airport (East Camp), Singapore, supplying the company’s four-plane fleet. The company also provides cost-effective executive jet transport services to the region’s high-powered businessmen.

“All the jets are convertible to air ambulances,” he explained, adding that the planes, mostly eight-seaters, are chartered by hospitals, insurance firms and individuals needing quick medical evacuations for critical medical conditions.

Po praised the Singapore government for its efficient bureaucracy, allowing businesses to operate with the most minimal permits and signatures required. “An air ambulance, for instance, has to mobilize quickly in less than 45 minutes,” he stressed.

He said he is eyeing to invest another $2 million to expand the operations and maintain four planes in Singapore. He is also eyeing to expand to other countries.

Po also operates LionAir Inc., a charter service with 20 helicopters and two LET aircraft. The company is also the licensed distributor and service center of the Torrance, California-based Robinson Helicopter Co. in the Philippines. A number of well-known politicians and high-profile businessmen in the country are owners of Robinson choppers. LionAir is also the favorite go-to charter service by politicians running in national elections.

In 1995 Po set up Asian Spirit with two other businessmen—Antonio Turralba Jr. and Noel Oñate—capitalizing it a cost of $3 million. In May 2007, he sold his shares in the airline to Antonio Ang, founder of CATS, the distributor of Mercedes-Benz locally. Ang, in turn, along with the airline’s minority shareholders, subsequently sold their shares to juice king Alfredo Yao in March 2008.

Marinduque joins Seair destination

December 7, 2009

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SEAIR Do328: Seair started flying to Marinduque in October 17, 2009. It competes with Zest Airways offering service on alternate days making the island province accessible by air daily.
MANILA, Philippines - Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR), the country’s premiere leisure airline, recently announced the opening of a new route to Marinduque. It now flies Manila-Marinduque-Manila every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The island province of Marinduque lies south of Quezon, east of Mindoro and north of Romblon. It features untouched beaches and islets, underwater caves, coral reefs, and therapeutic sulfur springs. Marinduqueños are known for their very hospitable nature, which is reflected in putong, a custom of welcome where visitors are crowned with flowers while local women dance and sing for them. The island is also popular for the annual Moriones Festival, one of the most colorful festivals in the country, celebrated during Holy Week.

“SEAIR is doing a unique service to the country in support of its tourism development goals. We are committed to the mission of bringing travelers from the Philippines’ gateways to its many island destinations,” said Avelino Zapanta, SEAIR president.

SEAIR now offers up to 27 flights every day to and from Boracay (Caticlan), and now has daily flights to the island paradise of Batanes. The airline also recently opened its paradise-to-paradise routes from Puerto Princesa (Palawan) to Boracay and vice versa, every Tuesday and Friday. SEAIR also flies Manila-El Nido-Manila every Wednesday and Sunday.

SEAIR has flown almost three million passengers to local destinations including Tablas (Romblon), Cebu, Clark, Zamboanga, Jolo, and Tawi-tawi. SEAIR also offers the most routes from Caticlan with flights from Caticlan to Manila and vice versa, Caticlan to Clark v.v., Caticlan to Cebu v.v. and Caticlan to Puerto Princesa v.v.

Meanwhile, the airline announces a special limited online offer for travelers who want to experience a chilly holiday season within the Philippines with a 10-percent discount for its flights to Batanes from Dec. 1 to 25. Travel period is from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31, 2010. SEAIR flies to Basco in Batanes daily.

Batanes, a visual feast of rolling hills and green pastures, traditionally goes through more seasons than the rest of the country. Its close proximity to Taiwan brings the temperature down to as much as 7° C in December and January. It is the only place in the country that experiences 4 seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter.

Visitors will be enthralled by historical stone houses, lighthouses guarding immaculate shorelines, rocky beaches and cold weather. This picturesque destination is also known for the freshness of its cuisine, and the warmth of its people. Long likened to the Scottish Highlands and Ireland, the Batanes islands more than holds their own as a uniquely pleasurable travel destination.

PAL expands Australian operations

Adds Brisbane to its international network

December 6, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Sunday said it will expand its Australian operations when it returns to Brisbane in March 2010.

In a statement, the flag carrier said it is eyeing a twice-weekly service to Brisbane in the Australian State of Queensland, and twice a week via Melbourne, using the 302-seater Airbus 330-300 jets.

“The addition of Brisbane service, our third destination in the country, is expected to boost PAL’s market performance as the Australian economy remains resilient amidst the crippling worldwide recession,” said PAL president Jaime J. Bautista.

“With the Brisbane service, we expect to make the existing Australian routes more profitable as we cater to more passengers flying to and from the country including the Filipino migrant community, tourists, and businessmen considering its constantly growing market,” he added.

Bautista said will continue to fly to Sydney and Melbourne five times a week. Sydney will be served exclusively by PAL's new B777-300ER aircraft which features the latest Recaro full-flat seats in Business class and Weber seats with in-seat videos in Economy.

Brisbane is the third most popular tourist destination in Australia, next to Sydney and Melbourne. It is renowned for its rich culture, architecture, and landscape and is famous for its stature as a world city.

Rewards take flight with Mabuhay Miles

A look at PAL's Reward Program
By Louisa Margaret Bonoan-Calawod
December 6, 2009

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PAL smiles: Mabuhay Miles is the Frequent Flyer Program of Philippine Airlines (PAL). PAL is recognized as Asia’s oldest commercial airline but it has never rested on that distinction, continuously improving its services, including the ways that it delights customers.

MANILA, Philippines - Generosity in recognizing and rewarding customer loyalty despite the challenges in the airline industry — this, in a nutshell, is what sets Mabuhay Miles apart from the other frequent flyer programs.

And by generosity, we mean endless possibilities of earning that free ticket to your next flight, flexibility in redeeming Miles, and the perks and privileges of being an Elite Mabuhay Miles member.

Mabuhay Miles is the Frequent Flyer Program of Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s national flag carrier. PAL is recognized as Asia’s oldest commercial airline but it has never rested on that distinction, continuously improving its services, including the ways that it delights customers.

Determined to value the loyalty of its customers, it launched its first frequent flyer program in 1984 — the Mabuhay Club and PALsmiles.

Guided by the customer service principle of continuous service improvement, the frequent flyer program of PAL was subjected to a lot of enhancements and face-lifting over the years to ensure that its valuable customers remain happy and are given premium recognition for their loyalty.

Consider these:

Mabuhay Club and PALsmiles started in 1984 as a frequent flyer program for international first and business class passengers. But in 1989, PALsmiles was enhanced to include all frequent travelers in its international and domestic destinations on all classes of service.

In August 2002, Mabuhay Miles became PAL’s brand of frequent flyer program (FFP) which integrated all of the airline’s FFPs — PALsmiles, the Mabuhay Club and the Flying Sportsman (now called SportsPlus).

World-Class Frequent Flyer Program

Today, Mabuhay Miles is PAL’s world-class frequent flyer program; undoubtedly at par with existing customer loyalty programs.

Through its dynamic Product Loyalty Marketing team, Mabuhay Miles has continuously worked on improving the features of its loyalty program.

Earning Miles as you fly

Mabuhay Miles has enabled its members’ earning ability to considerably improve, by earning actual Miles flown and class of service bonuses between 25 percent and 75 percent, with the exception of promotional and non-revenue tickets.

Members who fly on Philippine Airlines code-share partners, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Royal Brunei Airlines earn Miles. However, flights in these airlines have to be flown under a PAL flight number to be eligible to earn Miles.

Widened Miles earning ability

A Mabuhay Miles member’s earning ability continues to widen.

The frequent flyer program has increased its full partner list and members can earn Miles from credit card spending, hotel and resort stays, banking services, even car rentals and purchases with lifestyle partners.

Swipe that card, earn Miles

Mabuhay Miles acknowledges that next to Miles earned from airline flights, the credit card comes as the most viable source of Miles for most of its members. And recognizing the worldwide acceptability and convenience of the credit card, Mabuhay Miles partnered with credit card companies to include them in PAL’s frequent flyer program.

The Mabuhay Miles Visa from HSBC was launched in 2002 as the official credit card of Philippine Airlines’ frequent flyer program.

For Mabuhay Miles Visa Classic and Gold cards, every P45 card spent is equivalent to one Bonus Point while for Mabuhay Miles Visa Platinum cards, every P35 card spend is equivalent to one Bonus Point. One Bonus Point is equivalent to one Mile.

Primarily targeted at frequent travelers, it has evolved to include aspiring travelers and those seeking the fastest way to fly free.

This has prompted a lot of cardholders to consolidate their spending to their Mabuhay Miles Visa to maximize the potential of earning more Miles, or else… Sayang ang Miles!

The huge success of the Mabuhay Miles Visa card has inspired Philippine Airlines to launch another co-branded credit card, the Mabuhay Miles MasterCard, with its sister company Allied Bank in 2008. For every P38 card spent, Mabuhay Miles MasterCard holders earn one Point which is equivalent to one Mile.

The Mabuhay Miles Platinum and World MasterCard is empowered and privileged to give “More than Miles ahead.”

Mabuhay Miles members also have the option to convert their Rewards Points, earned from other financial institutions’ Rewards Program, into Miles. (Banking Services: Allied Bank; PNB Credit Card: Allied Bank, Banco de Oro, Citibank, Citibank Guam, Metrobank, PNB, Security Bank, Union Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Union Bank; Remittance Services: PNB.)

Indeed, cards with a mileage-earning component have given members a convenient way to earn Miles for credit card purchases that would otherwise not fall under the mileage umbrella.

The dynamic team of Mabuhay Miles continues to work closely with their credit card partners to offer additional earning activities for its members.

Earning Miles Through Hotel And Resort Stays

Mabuhay Miles members can earn Miles for hotel and resort stays in the Philippines and worldwide. With current partner hotels and resorts like Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Marco Polo Hotel Group, Pan Pacific Group, Tokyu Hotels, The Shilla Hotels and Resorts, Best Western Hotel San Mateo, Crowne Plaza Foster City, Hilton Garden Inn Fairfield, Regal Hotels International, Century Park Hotel, Amorita Beach, Boracay Regency, Boracay Tropics, Friday’s Boracay, Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, Microtel Inns & Suites, Sumilon Bluewater Island, The Panoly Resort, Pearl Farm Beach Resort and Taal Vista... And with ongoing negotiations for possible partnerships, members will have a long list of hotels and resorts where they can enjoy the comfort and luxury of their hotel or resort stay while earning Miles that they can use in their subsequent flights.

And a lot more...

Mabuhay Miles’ partnership with Hertz enables its members to earn Miles when they avail of the car rental company’s services.

For the shopaholic Mabuhay Miles members, they can earn Miles by purchasing World Traveller and Victorinox luggage.

Indeed, the possibilities of earning Miles are endless, from Time, Fortune, Discovery and Reader’s Digest magazine subscriptions to purchase of tickets to the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Even a purchase of travel insurance through Travelplans by AIU Insurance will earn Miles. Members also have the option to convert their Platinum Loyalty Reward to Mabuhay Miles, earned from the Globe Platinum Loyalty Reward and through accumulated bill usage inclusive of roaming charges and upon renewal of Globe Postpaid subscription.

Flexibility in redeeming earned Miles

One good measure of generosity is flexibility. And Mabuhay Miles surely measures up.

Members are provided with award choices, specifically, with options to redeem their Miles according to their needs. Domestic award ticket redemptions may be made for one-way or roundtrip flights. However, international award tickets are only available for roundtrip travel. Travel awards start with as low as 3,000 Miles. A round-trip flight to the US in economy class will give you a free ticket to Hong Kong.

Mabuhay Miles Flexiflyer award is not capacity controlled and allows members to redeem Miles even on full flights. Members can mix and match awards and fly on a standard award ticket one way and Flexiflyer on the return trip. More importantly, there are no blackout dates for award travel.

Transferring Award Tickets, Buy Miles And Miles Transfer

Award tickets are transferrable to anyone and upgrade awards may be transferred to family and friends who are also Mabuhay Miles members.

A Member can Buy Miles to complete Miles required for a particular flight. Miles can also be purchased and given to someone else or it could be transferred to another Mabuhay Miles member’s account for a minimal fee.

Perks for the sports enthusiasts

SportsPlus is a unique subscription-based feature available only to Mabuhay Miles members, especially the sports enthusiasts. SportsPlus members receive an extra free 20kg luggage allowance for sports equipment on Philippine Airlines flights.

Generous perks and privileges for Elite Members

Mabuhay Mile’s Elite-Level Program allows members to qualify for elite membership. Mabuhay Miles recognizes the fact that individual preferences of members vary according to their needs. Accordingly, Mabuhay Miles continues to focus on the elite member benefits.

After all, what could be more generous than the perks and privileges that go with a Mabuhay Miles membership?

As Elite or Premier Elite Members, you enjoy the following privileges: elite tier-based bonus Miles, access to the Mabuhay Lounges, exclusive reservations numbers, priority waitlist, standby, check-in, boarding and luggage handling and additional free luggage allowance.

Million Milers enjoy the highest level of privileges and receive lifetime Premier Elite membership, four complimentary Upgrade Travel Certificates each year and exclusive gifts.

Zest Air Inaugurates Korea flight

Suspends Cebu and Zamboanga hub to address fleet shortage

December 6, 2009

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Zest Airways: the latest Zest Air Airbus 320 flies from Kalibo to Incheon starting Dec. 4
Kalibo, Aklan - Zest Air launched an inaugural flight to Incheon, South Korea from Kalibo International Airport (KIA) at 8AM Friday carrying 170 passengers [and crews] after successful launching Clark-Hong Kong flight.

Ambassador Alfredo M. Yao, Zest Air’s president and chief executive officer, said that “the opening of the Incheon, Korea route, just like the Hong Kong route, is part of the airline’s expansion program to Southeast Asian regions. After these new routes, Zest Air is expected to boost its market dominance by planning to fly to Shanghai, Japan, and Singapore.” Seoul is the third international destination launched by the airline in the span of 3 months.

The inaugural chartered flight carried media representatives from Korean publication companies and officials from the tourism industry, and Zest Air executives.

The airline is scheduled to fly two regular flights every week on Mondays and Fridays with two more flights added starting December 20 making it a four (4) times a week flight up to February 7, 2010.

Zest Air will be utilizing its brand new 168 seater Airbus 320 for the route. Among the privileges of this new route include affordable introductory fares, baggage allowance of 20 kilos per person and free in flight meals and refreshments.

The launch of the Korea flight has already affected the regular schedule of the airline fleet affecting flight schedules to Cebu, Kalibo and Zamboanga as aircraft rotation are stretched to the limit prompting the airline to downgrade some routes on affected dates and discontinue some of its domestic destination for the meantime to cover the Caticlan bound passengers to Kalibo in December and service the overbooked international flight to Seoul until additional aircraft joined their fleet next year.

Flight schedules are as follows:
Kalibo-Incheon – December 4 to December 19, 2009 – expected time of departure, 1 a.m.; expected time of arrival, 6:30 a.m., Mondays and Fridays.
Incheon-Kalibo – December 4 to December 19, 2009, expected time of departure, 8:25 a.m.; expected time of arrival, ll:55 a.m.
Kalibo-Incheon-December 20, 2009 onwards- ETD, 1 a.m.; ETA: 6:30 a.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday
Incheon-Kalibo-December 20 onwards-ETD, 8:25 a.m.; ETA, 11:55 a.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday.

Zest Air flies to 20 destinations to and from Manila and Cebu hub. These include Boracay via Kalibo, Bacolod, Busuanga, Calbayog, Catarman, Clark, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legaspi, Manila, Marinduque, Naga, Puerto Princesa, San Jose, Mindoro, Tablas, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Virac and Zamboanga. Zest Air also started flying from Clark to Hong Kong and Zamboanga to Sandakan, Malaysia last October, 2009.

The airline said that they will resume their operations in Cebu and Zamboanga next year after sending the Cebu-based MA-60 to Manila to address the capacity shortage for its flight to Kalibo which has been registering upsurge of passengers this holiday season. The additional MA-60 will cover for the meantime the frequency of the 3rd A320 that is sent to service Seoul flight.

Meanwhile, Zest air is awaiting delivery of additional 3 MA-60 from Xian and 2 more A320 from Airbus as part of the airlines expansion plan which is scheduled to joined their fleet next year. Two planes are supposed to joined their fleet this year but delivery was deferred by the airline next year. The three MA-60 will be used to service more of its domestic route while the two airbus planes will be used for international flights to Shanghai, Japan, and Singapore.

RP, Russia sign air services accord

TransAero coming to Manila

December 5, 2009

Filipinos who intend to fly to Russia don’t need to take connecting flights to reach that country following the signing of air services agreement (ASA) between the Philippines and the Russian Federation that signals the opening of Cebu-Moscow direct flights, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Friday.

The Philippine Embassy in Moscow reported to its home office that the ASA was signed on December 1 by Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Doroteo A. Reyes II and Deputy Minister for Transport Valeriy Mikhailovich Okulov.

In a statement, the DFA said the air pact is “set to facilitate and intensify two-way tourism, trade and investment, and cultural exchanges through the opening of direct flights between the Philippines and Russia.”

The new agreement will replace the 1992 RP-Russia ASA. which now allow all Russian carriers limited flight frequencies from any three points in Russia to three points in the Philippines, namely Manila, Clark, and another destination (such as Cebu, Davao, Iloilo) and vice-versa.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Victor G. Garcia III, who witnessed the signing, described the recently-signed pact as “important vehicle” that will intensify the 32-year old diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During the pre-signing meeting held on Nov. 30, Russian carrier Transaero and the Philippine Airlines discussed the opening of chartered flights between Cebu and Moscow.

“Both sides expressed hope that this exercise will materialize as soon as possible and lead to eventual opening of regular scheduled flights,” the DFA said.

The amended bilateral air services agreement had been endorsed by the government through Tourism Secretary Ace Durano to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in June 2009 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

“We have intensively campaigned to open the Philippine skies further to address the influx of Russian tourists,” said Durano.

During Mrs. Arroyo’s three-day visit to Russia that ended on June 6, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assured his government’s nod to the signing of the bilateral air services agreement.

The assurance was made during their 45-minute bilateral meeting last June on the sidelines of the 13th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum right after her South Korea visit.

PAL Express resumes flight to Caticlan Airport

December 5, 2009

Philippine Airlines subsidiary PAL Express resumed flights to Caticlan Airport on December 1 five months after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) suspended flights by major airlines to the Boracay gateway because of runway accidents.

PAL Express which now schedules eight times a day flight to Caticlan from Manila and twice daily from Cebu using Bombardier Q300 turboprop aircraft joins Seair as the only airlines flying to Caticlan. Cebu Pacific and Zest Air are still waiting for its aircraft's airport certification to fly the route because it uses bigger and heavier planes that require longer runway to operate. Cebu Pacific and Zest Air utilizes ATR 72-500 and MA-60 aircraft that seats 60-75 passengers.

“The resumption of flights to Caticlan is a welcome development but there are special requirements that airlines must comply with to observe the highest level of safety,” said CAAP director Ruben Ciron.

In July, PAL Express, Cebu Pacific Air and Zest Airways suspended direct flights to Caticlan and rerouted them to Kalibo due to airport restrictions implemented by CAAP. The restrictions make it difficult for bigger aircraft to use the airport without substantial load penalty.

The air regulator imposed weight limits following several landing mishaps. Pilots find it difficult to land on Caticlan particularly during Habagat (northeast wind) season because of a 45-meter tall hill near runway 24 that blocks flight approach. The Amihan (southwest wind) monsoon aided PAL Express aircraft to land and depart safely at the airport.

Ciron said Caticlan is still undergoing construction of the runway over-run extension and the restriction of the “one runway for landing and take-off” remained in place.

CAAP had already spent some P32 million to provide additional 60 meters of runway strip at both ends, Ciron added.

Caticlan Airport had recorded about 60 flights daily on peak season, including charter airplanes and air taxi services, CAAP said.

Terminal 2 and 3 seeks ISO Certification

Aims service excellence upgrade

December 2, 2009

Manila - THE Manila International Airport Authority launched government campaign to get International Standards Organization (ISO) certification for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminals 2 and 3 by signing service pacts with 13 government agencies operating in the two facilities covering passenger-facilitation process.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) is an international authority that promulgates worldwide industrial and commercial standards. Founded in 1947, the ISO has its home office in Geneva, Switzerland, and currently has 158 member-states including the Philippines in its roster.

Terminal 1 has successfully achieved its ISO certification for the 9001 and 2001 versions in March this year. In April, Terminal 1 was upgraded to the 2008 version, and so far is one of the few government institutions that was granted with such certification, according to airport general manager Alfonso Cusi.

Alfonso Cusi said securing ISO certification for the passenger facilitation process for Naia 2 and 3 would give an assurance to domestic and international travelers that they were getting quality services in the country’s gateways.

The ISO is an indication that all of Naia terminal facilities and personnel are geared toward giving its passengers an internationally recognized ritual of assistance, following a world standard.

“Today’s signing activity brings us further to our dream of achieving service excellence at all levels in all Naia terminals. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there,” Cusi said.

The Service level agreements (SLA) involves the participation of 13 government agencies operating at NAIA airport which require them to provide Service Excellence Standards to passengers.

The signed SLAs contain the so-called “service excellence standards” for passenger handling that the 13 agencies hope to raise to ISO levels in the coming months.

Every month, the 13 agencies will submit performance reports to the Miaa’s Quality Management System Committee, detailing percentage accomplishments against targets that they have committed to achieve., which they submit monthly, including their performance reports to a quality-management committee, writing in details the percentage of accomplishments against a prescribed goal.

The 13 participating agencies are the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Immigration, the Bureau of Quarantine, the Bureau of Animal Industry, the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Wildlife Traffic Management Unit of the environment department’s National Capital Region office; the National Bureau of Investigation, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, the transportation department’s Office for Transportation Security, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Philippine Tourism Authority.

“The entire process is laborious and entails commitment to change our airport processes,” explained Tirso Serrano, Assistant General Manager for Airport Development and Corporate Affairs. “But we have done it in NAIA 1 and we are confident we will get NAIA 2 and 3 certified in no time.”

Serrano also announced that MIAA has launched its NAIA Privilege Card Program, an airport assistance scheme allowing bearers to avail of NAIA’s Meet and Assist Service. The MIAA Public Affairs Office is implementing the personalized program.

Meanwhile, the Airport Authority will introduce a Passenger Information System (PIS) to boost security at Manila’s international airport next year. PIS require international airlines heading to the Philippines to provide the airport with information on their passengers and crew two hours before they arrive, said Angel Atutubo, assistant general manager for security.

“The new system is similar to the United States and other European countries,” he said. He added that the system was already in use in Japan, China and South Korea to prevent the entry of aliens with criminal records or suspected terrorists.

Lufthansa Technik Philippines pushes for regional growth

By Siva Govindasamy
December 1, 2009

If the Philippines has gained a reputation for being a place for good quality and efficient aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services over the last decade, that is mainly due to the formation of Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) in 2000.

The company, which is 51% owned by German MRO firm Lufthansa Technik and 49% by Philippine-based MacroAsia, an aviation services company, is based at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International airport, which is the country's main air gateway.

Lufthansa Technik has taken advantage of the country's strategic location, low labour costs and high-quality workforce to establish what many in the industry recognise as one of South East Asia's leading maintenance houses. It offers a broad spectrum of MRO services, with an especially strong focus on the Airbus 320, and A330/340 family.

Lufthansa Technik Philippines MRO Lufthansa Technik Philippines
© Lufthansa Technik Philippines

"By taking this position, we are able to support the fleet of our key customer, Philippine Airlines, the capability on the A320 enables us to tap into the growing regional market, and the A330/A340 capability gives us a global reach," says Dominik Wiener-Silva, vice-president for marketing and sales. "We provide integrated MRO services for cost-efficient and reliable flight operations."


It began by offering support for PAL's entire fleet of aircraft, and soon after added Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines as its first international customers. After gradually expanding its capabilities and facilities, it now provides third-party services for more than 20 airlines.

This includes line maintenance services to carriers such as Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines, and base maintenance services for airlines such as Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways and Australia's Qantas, along with Europe-based BMI, Thomas Cook Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

All of its work is performed at 26,000m2 (280,000ft2) hangars and 27,000m2 workshops in Manila within the airport. The company also has a five-bay hangar that includes two exclusive A330/A340 production lines with custom-designed docking facilities.

One of its advantages is its location inside a free trade zone. This "guarantees the speedy customs release of urgently needed aircraft parts", says the company. Aside from its Manila base, LTP also has maintenance stations in Cebu, Clark and Davao.

Over the past nine years, the company has acquired capabilities for a variety of aircraft. Line maintenance is offered on the Airbus A320 family, A330/A340, Boeing 737 Classics and the 747 and 777 families. "We tailor timetables and requirements, 24h a day, seven days a week," says the company.

It can also perform C checks on the A320 family, A330/A340, 737 Classics and 747s, in addition to the D checks on the A320 family and A330/A340 aircraft. For base maintenance, in addition to the five widebody hangar bays, the company has several backshops designed in line with Lufthansa Technik's standards.

In September 2007, Lufthansa Technik Philippines received European Aviation Safety Agency certification for all maintenance work on the latest Airbus variant in the A340 family, the A340-600. A widebody hangar was added recently to meet increasing demand for A330/A340 base maintenance checks. And with PAL due to receive its first two 777s by year-end, that capability will also be added.

Lufthansa Technik Philippines
© Lufthansa Technik Philippines
Lufthansa Technik Philippines offers its line maintenance services at Manila airport

The company offers engine MRO services, giving support for line and base maintenance for powerplants including the CFM International CFM56 series, General Electric CF6-80 series, IAE V2500 Pratt & Whitney PW4000 and Rolls-Royce Trent 500/700.

Major aircraft modifications, cabin reconfiguration and refurbishment services, cabin window overhaul, non-destructive testing and component support for line and base maintenance are also available, as are a slew of engineering services.

It is also strong in aircraft painting services. "Whether a single aircraft or an entire fleet, customers take advantage of LTP's in-depth expertise in aircraft painting," says Lufthansa Technik.

By offering such comprehensive engineering solutions, the company says that it allows the carriers "to focus on their core business", which is running the airline operation. To this end, LTP has received regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Given the growth of South East Asia as an airline and tourist market, the company feels its focus on the region remains an important component of the broader Lufthansa Technik growth strategy. This is especially true in an economic crisis, when airlines are looking at various ways to keep their costs down.

"As we see it, the region remains as the most important growth market because of the strong growth in fleet size and the increasing number of start-up airlines. These factors bring about a continuous demand for MRO services. In this time of economic crisis, the logic in having a subsidiary in the region is justified even more," says Wiener-Silva.

"With a set-up in this region of growth, Lufthansa Technik, despite the downturn, is still able to offer an attractive package to the customers. LTP is able to do this because of its close proximity to the customers."

That has paid dividends over the years as LTP has kept its older customers and added new ones. It started work on its 100th heavy maintenance check on an A340 in November.

"The expertise we have developed through the years on the A330/A340 has enabled us to reach this achievement," says Bernhard Krueger Sprengel, Lufthansa Technik Philippines' president and chief executive. "It is because of our strong focus on the aircraft type and commitment to quality and fast turnaround time that we are able to convince old and new customers to put their trust in us."

The company says its commitment to quality and fast turnaround time serves as a challenge, and pushes it to constantly improve its services. To this end, Lufthansa Technik Philippines adopted the Lean principles in 2007 for its overhaul operations, resulting in significant reductions in turnaround times. Together with Airbus, LTP was also able to perform Frame 47 modification incorporated to a heavy check on a number of A340-600s.

"It was in LTP that this critical modification was first performed outside an Airbus facility, further raising the bar in A330/A340 heavy maintenance. Through the adoption of Lean practices, LTP was not only successful in integrating the modification but was also able to reduce the Frame 47 modification turnaround time to only nine days," says the company.

One aspect of its presence in the Philippines is to train a high-quality local workforce - Lufthansa Technik Philippines has 2,800 English-speaking mechanics, engineers and support personnel. Through a partnership with Lufthansa Technical Training Philippines (LTTP), the company's mechanics are certificated through EASA Part 66-compliant courses. It also has a combination of classroom and on-the-job training programmes, and there is a regular exchange of personnel between Lufthansa Technik and other subsidiaries.

The company is also looking to secure business from further afield, with China and India in its radar. It is also in talks with many of Asia's growing band of low-cost carriers.

While investments in infrastructure are always a possibility - and there appears to be scope for further expansion at the airport site - that is unlikely to take place in the immediate future in the face of the economic crisis.

"We expect 2010 to be a year of slow recovery. By saying that, we expect an economic revival in South East Asia as well. This recovery is quicker compared to Europe because in South East Asia we have a younger fleet and a more dynamic market," says Wiener-Silva.