PAL flies back to Riyahd

Starts service on March 28

January 17, 2009
MANILA – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines restores the long-awaited service to the middle east by flying back to Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital on March 28, 2010 after an absence of four years to the region.

The non-stop service will operate four times weekly to the delight of the large Filipino community, with flight PR 658 departing Manila every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:20 p.m. It arrives in the Saudi capital at 11:00 p.m. (Riyadh time) The return service, PR 659, departs Riyadh at 12:30 a.m. every Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, and arrives back in Manila at 3:00 p.m. (Manila time)

The company said that a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which seat 50 passengers in Mabuhay Class (business) and 383 in Fiesta Class (economy), will be deployed for the route with daily services expected within the next eight months for the hajj pilgrimage season.

the airline first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987 and over the decades the Saudi capital became one of its most important points. PAL last served Riyadh, its final destination in the Middle East, on March 2, 2006. The service was suspended by the company for commercial reasons in the midst of corporate rehabilitation.

The flag carrier’s return to the region has been welcomed by Filipino expatriates, who number about 2 million – one of the largest foreign communities working there.

"PAL has been traditionally favored by Filipinos in the Middle East because its direct service to Manila means that they get home faster compared to other carriers, whose flights involve up to two stops in intermediate cities before proceeding to Manila," the airline said.

Riyadh will become the 25th international destination for PAL as it tries to bring back slowly its network back to the pre-1997 level. This year, the airline already managed to brought back two destinations for its international network supplemented by 29 domestic points in the Philippines. The other plan service on the drawing board for the middle east is Kuwait City and the four European connections in London, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt by 2014.

The only other local airline with flights to the Middle East is Spirit of Manila Airlines, a Qatari owned subsidiary company operating at Manila Clark airport. Spirit of Manila started two weekly flights to Bahrain from Clark last December 18, 2009. It also plans to start service to Dubai this year using its fleet of MD-80's.

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