PAL cuts Riyadh Flight

Due to Operational Restrictions

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes

March 12, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will stop flights to and from Riyadh beginning April 2 after incurring losses from its operations in the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia.

PAL vice president for operations Nikki Gozon said it was a difficult route to sell because they are only allowed to fly three specific aircraft registries, one particular Boeing 747 and two Airbus 330s.

He said restrictions on what plane PAL can use for the route have restrained its flexibility in operating the Manila-Riyadh service.

PAL flies four times weekly to the Middle Eastern city.

“It becomes an operational nightmare because we only use three specific aircraft that you can fly into the city. When one airplane is down, we cannot change to another,” Gozon said.

The airline deploys a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which seats 50 passengers in the business class and 383 in the economy class.

PAL resumed its flights to Riyadh in March last year after halting operations beginning March 2006. The airline first suspended the service due to high fuel prices, an oversupply of seats, and intense competition with Middle Eastern carriers.

“There are not enough passengers taking this flight to justify its continued operation. Revenues earned are not enough to cover cost of operations,” PAL said.

PAL also stopped flying to Brisbane beginning October last year, just seven months after it launched its maiden flight to the city.

But the carrier is set to add India to its international network starting this month. It will launch thrice-weekly flights to New Delhi using an Airbus 330.

PAL stopped flying to India in the 50s but now sees good prospects due to the influx of Indian tourists to Manila and Cebu.

“We look at India as a profitable market, that’s why we are flying into it,” Gozon said.

PAL, which has a fleet of seven Boeing aircraft and 30 airbuses, currently serves a network of 20 domestic points and 25 international destinations spanning Asia, Oceania and North America.

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