PAL flies to Europe!

Prepares 777 flight to Crete

March 8, 2011

Philippine Airlines (PAL) said on Monday that it is preparing two Boeing 777-300ER plane for repatriation flights of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) displaced in the Libyan conflict today as it sets to fly its first chartered flight to Crete set to depart at 5 and 10 p.m. respectively.

This is the first and only instance where a Philippine Flag carrier will land in the Greek island nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, and amidst flight ban to the European Union.

The plan was for PAL to fly to Heraklion International Airport in Crete to pick up Filipinos who were ferried there by ship from Libya.

PAL already secured the services of a ground handler for their plane so that it could be properly serviced and refueled back to Manila.

In a statement, the airline said that many times in its 70-year history, the national flag carrier, with its wide international route network, has embarked on emergency missions to evacuate OFWs in conflict-stricken territories.

The company said it was able to get a special permit to fly to Greece for the repatriation, despite a standing ban on Philippine carriers from flying to Europe.

“PAL [is seeking] the understanding of passengers who might experience slight delays as the airline adjusts its aircraft schedules to give way to special charter flights for the repatriation of Filipinos fleeing the unrest in Libya,” the company said.

*     *     *

 A view from Heraklion International Airport in Greece
Two Philippine Airlines Boeing 777-300ER jets were flown to Heraklion, Greece for repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers displaced by Libyan conflict. RP-C7777 became the first PR plane to land in Crete followed by RP-C7776 10 hours later. Philippine Airlines also became the first triple seven operator to land at Heraklion Airport.  

Videos for the rescue flights can be found here and here


  1. PAL flight took off at 10:03 yesterday from NAIA Centennial Terminal 2 for a 12-hour direct flight to Crete, Greece.

    The chartered PAL flight (PR 008) for the Department of Labor and Employment will bring home close to 400 Filipinos currently awaiting repatriation at the Heraklion Airport located in the Greek island of Crete.

    The repatriation is the biggest group of Filipinos that will be ferried back home using a single aircraft.

    The special repatriation flight will arrive in Crete at 5:41 am (Greece time) and will go through the usual ground handling procedures including refueling.

    The B777 is expected to depart Greece tentatively at 7:30 am (Greece time/March 9) and to arrive Manila at 1:10 am March 10 this morning.

    The pilots comprising the flight deck crew includes: Capt. Francis Gregory Narciso, Capt. Armistes Cruz, Capt. Edgardo Diaz, First Officer Hilario Lagmay, First Officer Emmanuel Lacson, First Officer Mark Anthony Fernandez and Second Officer Onofre Alzate.

    The management cabin attendants are: Muniera Santos, Ena Penaverde, Ruby Manzano, Wesley Calfoforo, Nancy Diago, Thea Tee, Anna Zuniga, Loida Teopaco, Divine de Gracia, Oliver Samala, Steve Teves, Elsa Yuzon, and Ed Regencia.

  2. Two repatriation flights by Philippine Airlines (PAL) arrived 10 hours apart after their non-stop 11-hour journey from Heraklion Airport, Crete, Thursday morning carrying a total of 731 Filipinos, including 15 infants.

    There were 368 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) onboard PR 009 which arrived at 1:00a.m. and 363 passengers on PR 011 which arrived shortly before noon today.

    Both flights were manned by two sets of pilots, 13 management cabin attendants and four technical crew, the airline statement said.

    "As the Philippine flag carrier, PAL is happy to be of service to our countrymen, especially in times of crises," President Jaime Bautista told returning OFWs at the arrival area of NAIA Terminal 2.

    PAL had evacuated Filipinos in troubled areas on many occasions with special flights to troubled regions, including, among others: the 2008 social unrest in Bangkok, Thailand; the 1990 first Gulf War – the largest to date encompassing 30 flights and more than 10,000 evacuated Filipinos; the 1989 war in Lebanon; and the 1980 Iran-Iraq war that displaced more than a thousand Filipinos who fled to Jordan and Kuwait.