CAAP Honors Omni Founder

December 31, 2012

Capt.Gomez, President & founder of Omni Aviation

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has awarded Capt. Ben Hur Gomez a plaque of recognition for his valuable contribution to the aviation industry through quality training of next generation aviation professionals.

Capt. Gomez, president and founder of Omni Aviation Corporation, served Philippine Airlines (PAL) for 38 years and capped his career as a Boeing 747 captain and vice president of safety and security.

He has more than 33,000 hours of flight time without a single accident. Omni Aviation Corporation, the largest and most reputable flying school in the Philippines, is widely acknowledged as the “United Nations” among flight training schools as it boasts a population of 323 students from 31 different countries.

The flying school logged a total flight time of 2,756 hours,  a daily average of 92 hours. The reputation and experience of Capt. Gomez is what made Omni Aviation what it is today – a safe, honest and reliable flying school.

CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III handed over the plaque of recognition during a recent ceremony held in the CAAP compound in Pasay City.

The award was bestowed on Gomez by CAAP Director General Ret. Lt. Gen William Hotchkiss III last December 3 during the recognition ceremony held in the CAAP Compound, 1300 Mia Road, Pasay City.

The awarding was in time for the celebration of International Civil Aviation Day, which is held every 7th day of December.

This year’s celebration is themed “Aviation: Your Reliable Connection to the World,” which seeks to establish and reinforce worldwide awareness of the importance of international civil aviation in the social and economic development of states. -Manila Bulletin

MNL, 34th Busiest in 2012

Atlanta still on Top

December 31, 2012

Atlanta remains the world's busiest airport in 2012 followed by Beijing Capital Airport. Singapore Changi Airport has entered the Top 10 by seats per week easing Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, fueled by growth in LCC operations. Dubai Airport eases out Los Angeles Airport at it surged into fifth place on the world rankings as measured by total seats this week. Manila's NAIA hold on at top 34 of the busiest airport in the world.

Top 50 Airports, ranked by Seats per week*
Rank Airport Total Seats
1 ATL Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport 1,927,531
2 PEK Beijing Capital International Airport 1,918,574
3 HND Tokyo Haneda Airport 1,813,291
4 LHR London Heathrow Airport 1,668,272
5 DXB Dubai International Airport 1,587,901
6 LAX Los Angeles International Airport 1,442,395
7 HKG Hong Kong International Airport 1,435,824
8 CGK Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport 1,428,587
9 ORD Chicago O'Hare International Airport 1,390,176
10 SIN Singapore Changi Airport 1,388,096
11 CDG Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport 1,374,546
12 DFW Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 1,357,687
13 BKK Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International 1,184,100
14 FRA Frankfurt Airport 1,173,033
15 JFK New York John F Kennedy International Airport 1,166,772
16 CAN Guangzhou Baiyun Airport 1,161,996
17 DEN Denver International Airport 1,144,936
18 KUL Kuala Lumpur International Airport 1,111,481
19 PVG Shanghai Pudong Airport 1,091,377
20 IST Istanbul Ataturk Airport 1,075,389
21 CLT Charlotte Douglas Airport 999,452
22 ICN Seoul Incheon International Airport 986,851
23 PHX Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport 979,012
24 MIA Miami International Airport 966,980
25 SFO San Francisco International Airport 950,316
26 SYD Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport 934,711
27 AMS Amsterdam Airport Schiphol 934,284
28 DEL Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport 906,331
29 IAH Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport 904,217
30 MAD Madrid Barajas Airport 898,417
31 LAS Las Vegas McCarran International Airport 877,116
32 NRT Tokyo Narita Airport 873,223
33 BOM Mumbai Airport 832,731
34 MNL Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport 829,348
35 YYZ Toronto Pearson International Airport 822,634
36 MCO Orlando International Airport 811,787
37 GRU Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport 789,362
38 EWR New York Newark Liberty International Airport 777,024
39 SHA Shanghai Hongqiao Airport 775,566
40 FCO Rome Fiumicino Airport 775,156
41 TPE Taipei Taoyuan International Airport 750,297
42 PHL Philadelphia International Airport 742,838
43 KMG Kunming Airport 742,209
44 MEL Melbourne Tullamarine Airport 723,837
45 SZX Shenzhen Airport 714,341
46 MUC Munich Airport 704,522
47 MEX Mexico City Juarez International Airport 703,654
48 SEA Seattle/Tacoma International Airport 692,548
49 CTU Chengdu Airport 652,594
50 BCN Barcelona El Prat Airport 638,575

5J A319 Stays For Now

Allegiant cancels deal

December 29, 2012

LAS VEGAS - Allegiant Travel Company(Nasdaq:ALGT) announced yesterday its proposed transaction to acquire ten Airbus A319 aircraft from Cebu Pacific Air has been terminated as a result of the parties' failure to satisfy certain conditions to proceeding with the transaction. The potential transaction was made public on July 30, 2012 after the signing of the letter of intent.

"We are disappointed that we were not able to finalize this agreement on which we spent a substantial amount of time and effort," said Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant President. "Unfortunately we were unable to come to terms on some of the economic provisions of the transaction and as we have demonstrated in the past, we will not purchase aircraft just for the sake of growth. Our disciplined approach in asset purchases is a core competency that we will not compromise."

"We continue to have fleet flexibility in 2013 even without the Cebu A319s. Seven of the nine A320 aircraft, which we announced the intention to acquire on December 19, 2012, are expected to be delivered in 2013 and we now plan to introduce these aircraft into service at a faster pace so as to offset the capacity that had been planned with the Cebu A319s," concluded Levy.

Allegiant is now expecting 2013 total CAPEX to be between $170 and $180 million. The company has signed operating leases for nine A319 aircraft with GECAS and purchase agreements for nine A320 aircraft formerly operated by Iberia. Allegiant will remain active in the market for the purchase or lease of additional Airbus aircraft.

Pentagon to Deploy Stealth Strike Force in Subic

As Americans Rebuild Military Base in the Philippines

December 29, 2012

The US has announced that it would increase the number of troops, aircraft and ships that rotate through the Philippines next to Okinawa. The announcement was made during the 3rd Phillipines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila, which was held Dec. 11-12. In Picture B-2 Stealth Bomber and F-22 Stealth fighter along Guam coastline in 2009. USAF 

By David Axe
Danger Room

The U.S. military has begun a staged, five-year process that will see each of its three main stealth warplane types deployed to bases near China. When the deployments are complete in 2017, Air Force F-22s and B-2s and Marine Corps F-35s could all be within striking range of America’s biggest economic rival at the same time. With Beijing now testing its own radar-evading jet fighters — two different models, to be exact — the clock is counting down to a stealth warplane showdown over the Western Pacific.

The gradual creation of the U.S. stealth strike force is an extension of the Pentagon’s much-touted “strategic pivot” to the Pacific region, and echoes the much faster formation, earlier this year, of a similar (but only partially stealthy) aerial armada in the Persian Gulf. That team of F-22s, non-stealthy F-15s and specialized “Bacon” radio-translator planes was clearly meant to deter a belligerent Iran, although the Pentagon denied it.

The announcements of new Pacific deployments of F-22s, F-35s and B-2s have come like a drumbeat in recent weeks. Early last month, 8th Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, who controls the Air Force’s 20-strong B-2 fleet normally based in Missouri, said “small numbers” of his multi-billion-dollar batwing bombers would begin rotating into the Pacific and other regions starting next year. The rotations would last “for a few weeks, a couple of times a year,” Wilson told Air Force magazine.

For the B-2s, which are being heavily upgraded with new radars and communications, the planned deployments represent a return to form. Beginning in the early 2000s, B-2s frequently deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, occasionally accompanied by stealthy F-22s. But the Pacific rotations were tough on the tiny B-2 force. In 2008 one of the bombers crashed and burned at Andersen; two years later another B-2 suffered a serious engine fire at the remote island base that nearly destroyed the plane.

The Air Force suppressed news of the second incident and quietly pulled the B-2s from the Pacific front line, replacing them with older B-52s. After a period of rest, the stealth bomber fleet is now ready to get back into the habit of operating overseas. “We’re going to put them into the ‘new normal,’” Wilson said.

F-22s, normally based in Florida, Virginia, Alaska and Hawaii, are already regular visitors to Andersen and, more frequently, the Pentagon’s Kadena mega-base in Japan’s Okinawa prefecture. But problems with the pricey, high-flying jet’s oxygen systems resulted in crippling flight restrictions for much of this year. The Air Force believes it has finally figured out how to minimize the choking risk to its (occasionally mutinous) stealth pilots. And in a speech at the National Press Club last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there would be “new deployments of F-22s … to Japan.”

In the same speech, Panetta announced the first planned overseas basing of the still-in-development F-35. The Defense Department is “laying the groundwork” for F-35s to deploy to Iwakuni, Japan, in 2017, Panetta said. Though he did not specify, it’s likely Panetta was referring to the Marines’ vertical-landing F-35B version of the troubled, delayed stealth attack jet, as the B version will be the first of three F-35 models to be cleared for combat — and since Iwakuni traditionally hosts Marine fighters.

To be fair, the B-2s, F-22s and F-35s aren’t expected to fight alone. Besides the existing Pacific force structure of F-15s, F-16s, A-10s and other warplanes, drones and support aircraft, the Pentagon is planning on sending in the Navy’s new P-8 patrol plane and, eventually, the Air Force’s still-unbuilt KC-46 tanker.

Still, it’s possible that all three radar-evading planes could be flying together over the blue waters of the Pacific as early as five years from now. By that time China might have built and deployed combat-ready versions of its own J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters. That doesn’t mean the two aerial armadas will be fighting each other, of course. Conventional war with China is, and will likely remain, unnecessary and unlikely.

For both sides the planned stealth strike forces are all about showing off, and impressing your rival so much that actually fighting him seems unthinkable. And that’s a good thing.

PAF Flies 3rd C-130

3633 Back in the Air

December 28, 2012

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) re-commissioned one vintage C-130B-LM series (c/n 282-3633) Hercules cargo plane Friday at the Villamor Air Base after completing the first in-house Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM) refurbishment program of PAF at Clark Air Base with technical supervision by Lockheed Matin.

The C-130 aircraft which first flew in 1961 for the US Air Force is the third cargo plane to become airworthy as it re-joins PAF fleet with a project price tag of P579-million. It was retired in the USAF inventory in 1993 and put in storage at  Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Center (AMARC) in Arizona on October 5, 1993 and was donated to the PAF in April 1998 as part of US Foreign Military Assistance to the Philippines. - Photo credits to Paolo Guinto of Philippine Plane Spotters Group

MVP's New Bird


December 27, 2012
The US $45 Million Bombardier Global Express XRS (Global 6000) corporate jet first introduce in 2006 is slated to be Pacific Global One's flagship VIP jet which can fly an altitude of up to 51,000-ft., and range of 6,500 nautical miles with cruising speed of Mach 0.85, (maximum cruise speed of 950 kph and an average speed of 907 kph). 

The 19 seater ultra-long-range jet aircraft is powered by two BMW Rolls Royce BR 10A2-20 turbofan engines and is capable of reaching London and San Francisco from Manila non stop

The Manuel V. Pangilinan chaired Pacific Global One Aviation Co. has PLDT as its major stockholder together with Philex Mining Corp., Jubilee Sky Ltd., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Meralco Powergen Corp. and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. comprising the rest of the group. 

The aircraft is slated for delivery in January 2013 from Quebec to Manila via Vancouver. Bombardier is the third-largest airplane manufacturer in the world after Boeing and Airbus

5J's New 320 Model

Cebu Pacific F-WWIK-5442 A320-214 will become the Philippine first A320 aircraft equipped with  fuel-saving wing-tip devices known as "sharklets". Airbus EVP-Programs Tom Williams said the Airbus’ sharklets paves the way for airlines to benefit from savings in fuel of around 4% from existing airframes without them and will be the new standard for all A320 platform

Sharklets are made from light-weight composites and are 2.4 metres tall. These newly designed wing-tip devices reduce fuel burn and emissions by improving the aerodynamics of the aircraft significantly and will offer the flexibility to A320 Family operators of either adding around 100 nautical miles more range or allowing increased payload capability of up to 450 kilogrammes. 

Air Asia became the first airline to take delivery of sharklet-equipped A320s this year followed by Cebu Pacific delivery scheduled for January next year.  Sharklets are now offered as standard for all new-build aircraft, as well as for the A320neo Family.

Currently, more than 8,600 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been ordered and more than  5,300 delivered to more than 350 customers and operators worldwide, making it the world’s best selling commercial jetliner. 

Its latest model and future platform, the A320neo has 1,500 firm orders from more than 30 customers since its launch, and is the fastest selling commercial aircraft ever slated to enter service from 2015.

Rolls-Royce Agenda

The UK Lobby to Europe

December 12, 2012

The United Kingdom has finally agreed to amend the one sided bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) with the Philippines signed in 1965 granting the Philippines daily flight to London from Manila.

The earlier bilateral was tied with orders for the UK made BAC-111 used by Philippine Airlines (PAL) in 1967. The airplane was retired from service in 1986. Proposed amendments to the bilateral was not signed by the UK in 2009 for unknown reason.

UK Member of Parliament Hugo Swire on Tuesday signed the ASA with Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya expanding the thrice a week service to London in order to boost tourism and trade between the two countries.

“We would like to see direct flights from the Philippines into the UK. It will be a commercial decision as to how many flights will work, and we would like to see that happen. After all we have a quarter-of-a-million Filipinos living in the UK,” Swire said.

The ASA is however the icing of the cake as it removes restrictions to fly to UK that would otherwise have  been uneconomical to fly directly in the first place. The Philippines was granted with three weekly frequencies and PAL let one frequency from British Airways while flying London until it stopped in 1998 due to the Asian Financial Crisis.

The UK and the Philippines agreed flights from three times weekly to 21 times a week - 7 times a week from Manila and Cebu and 7 times a week from elsewhere in the country.

A Senior management official from PAL privy to the matter but does not want to be identified because of confidentiality issues disclosed that the real issues with Britain was the multi-million US dollar orders for Rolls Royce engine. The UK built power-plants to power the 20 Airbus 330's on order was leveraged by San Miguel requiring Rolls Royce commitment from the European Union to grant exemptions to PAL, similar to the deal that was arranged with Garuda Airlines of Indonesia. Cebu Pacific also leveraged on the same exemptions.

Garuda ordered 24 A330 aircraft from Airbus all powered by Rolls Royce engines. They were subsequently granted exemptions to fly European Airspace although the rest on Indonesian Airlines are barred from entering the EU Airspace.   

Swire said during the press conference at Makati Business Club that he is meeting Ramon S. Ang, Philippine Airlines (PAL) President and COO, who hopes to start direct flights to London soon.

“And, incidentally, their passengers will probably be arriving on a new aircraft made partly in Britain,” he further said.

The UK minister categorically said that Britain would offer any form of assistance to help address the Philippine issues with the European Union, which to this day, has prevented the country’s air carriers from flying into European skies.

"We want to work with the Philippine government to look at the outstanding issues that the EU has, and try to resolve them so we can get these flights up and running as quickly as we can," he said. 

USAF lends C-130 to PAF

Joins Relief Run to Davao

December 10, 2012

The US Department of Defense, through  the U.S. Department of Defense Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid program, has lent two (2) US C-130J aircraft based in Okinawa, Japan with US Marine Forces compliments from Pacific Command (PACOM) for temporary deployment to Manila to transport relief goods to Davao upon request of the Philippine government.

The two USAF C-130 planes arrived Saturday in Manila loaded with at least 270,000 pounds of emergency supplies valued at $3 million dollars intended for provinces ravaged by typhoon "Pablo. It loaded more relief goods in Manila before proceeding to Davao International Airport early Sunday to augment relief run by two C-130's of the Philippine Air Force.

The US Department of Defense said it will continue the mission through the week. The relief fund came from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The US C-130s carried Water purification systems from Okinawa, and 76,000 pounds of food supplies from the World Food Program. Subsequent flights carried relief goods from the Philippines Department of Social Welfare Office (DSWD).

Meanwhile, the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines has been mobilized to conduct relief operations in the devastated areas of Compostela Valley and Davao Provinces in Mindanao with the assistance of their Filipino military counterpart.

AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos Jr., said the United States paid for the fuel, maintenance and flying costs of the two C-130's while ferrying relief goods to Davao while the Philippine military secures the American aircraft.

PAL to Fly Turkey and Kuwait This Summer

Code-shares with Turkish Airlines?

December 10, 2012

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced its intention to mount flights to Kuwait City in April and Istanbul by August of next year, data from Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) discloses.

In its application, PAL said it would be offering daily direct flights from Manila to Kuwait City. It will use Boeing 747, 777, Airbus A340 and A330 for the applied route.

The airline also filed an application to service Europe's backdoor to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in Turkey thrice a week. Turkey is in Europe but is not part of the European Union which blacklisted the country from flying into its airspace.

“In addition to our planned operations to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, we intend to serve the Emirate of Kuwait on a daily non-stop basis during the summer 2013 schedule,” Vice-President for External Relations Ma. Socorro G. Gonzaga said.

PAL's application did not state whether the flight to Istanbul is going to be code-shared with Turkish Airlines (THY) which also announce commencement of thrice a week service to Manila on the same month coinciding with PAL flight to Turkey. THY applied for the route Istanbul Manila via Hongkong in 2011.

Gonzaga said that PAL’s flight to Turkey is in line with its “ambitious fleet expansion program.” saying that flights to that country would reconnect the flag carrier to the European continent.

Earlier, Turkish application to code-share flight with PAL using THY Boeing 777-300 ER planes between Manila and Hongkong was denied by CAB. 

In the latest Air Services Agreement with Turkey signed in February 2010, the Philippines is entitled to use three weekly flights between “points in the Philippines” and either “Istanbul, Ankara, and another point in Turkey to be specified later.

PAL vice president for marketing Felix Cruz confirmed  in an interview with reporters in Toronto Monday that the airline is actively seeking exemption from the European Commission of the ban on Philippine carriers from flying European airspace so that it can start flights to Frankfurt, Paris and London, all in the European Union.

"The airlines can work out an exemption unlike in the US where the ban is imposed on the country and not the airlines,” says Cruz.

Cruz said the airline is using its ISO certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and to the fact that the airline is maintained by Luftansa Technik AG of Germany, an EU accredited MRO provider.

PAL is hoping that the ban and the Category 2 status would finally be lifted by the EU and US FAA after ICAO conducts its audit this coming February. 

“This coming February, there is an audit to be conducted by the US FAA. So we will know by February and once lifted will open the possibility to really maximize the utilization of our aircraft and our entitlements,” Cruz said.

“If not, then we have to work on the EU exemptions and the workaround on our category rating in the US to fly our planes” Cruz adds.

PAL recently ordered 65 Airbus planes in August from European plane maker Airbus S.A.S in a deal worth $9.5 billion. It also has existing orders for two more Boeing 777-300ER scheduled for delivery in April and November 2013, while the first 10 Airbus planes, four of them A330 models is scheduled for delivery in 2013.

“Hopefully if we get the Category 1from the US, it will trigger actually if we get exemptions from Europe. It will trigger either or, whichever come first,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cruz said consumer response to the airline’s non-stop Manila-Toronto flight has been “very overwhelming.”

“The thrice-a-week schedule of the Manila-Toronto flight has been fully booked since we launched the service using our brand new Boeing 777-300 ER ,” Mr. Cruz said.

“Because of this, we thought of adding more flights to cater to the growing clientele,” he said adding that its fourth added flight is almost fully booked that they decided to introduce daily flight by March next year. 

Cruz also confirmed that they are deferring flights to Darwin scheduled this month due to internal and regulatory problems. Instead, they hope to launch the flight by first quarter of next year after regulatory approvals.

PAL was the first Southeast Asian airline to fly to Europe, with a maiden flight in May 1947 to Frankfurt Germany.

5J expands CEB to KL and Bangkok, Zest to DVO and PPS

December 10, 2012

Cebu Pacific is expanding its regional network from Cebu, with the launch of direct twice weekly flights  to both Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok on December 8 and 9, 2013.

The airline will begin operating a Tuesday, Saturday service from Cebu to Kuala Lumpur leaving Cebu at 4:45 p.m., and arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 8:10 p.m. The return flight to Cebu will depart at 8:55 p.m. and will arrive at 12:20 a.m. the next day. On Dec. 9, 2012, It will launch its Thursday, Sunday service to Bangkok with flight departing Cebu at 4:50 p.m., and arriving Bangkok at 7:20 p.m. The return flight leaves Bangkok at 8:10 p.m. and arrives in Cebu at 12:40 a.m. the next day.

Cebu Pacific flies Seoul (Incheon), Pusan, Hong Kong and Singapore from Mactan Cebu Airport.

Meanwhile,  Zest Air will start offering direct flights from its Cebu hub to Davao and Puerto Princesa in Palawan on Dec. 20, 2013 using Airbus 320 planes.

Air Asia Drops Kota Kinabalu

Amidst Intense Competition

December 8, 2012

Clark - Malaysia-based airline subsidiary AirAsia Philippines(AGP) announced Friday that it will drop flights to Kota Kinabalu because of poor sales from its hub at Clark airport. 

It is the second international route abandoned by AGP less than a year after the airline opened in March. it earlier left Macau due to intense competitions offered by Tiger Subsidiary Seair and Cebu Pacific.

Citing "commercial reasons," the local unit of Malaysia-based Air Asia Berhad said it would ditch its flights effective February next year.

A320 Academy Rises in Clark

Cebu Pacific Air and Canada's CAE inaugurate 
Philippine Academy for Aviation Training

December 5, 2012
  • Capacity to train over 2,500 airline pilots and other aviation professionals annually
Clark, Pampanga, Philippines, December 3, 2012 - Cebu Pacific Air (PSE: CEB), the Philippines' largest national flag carrier, and CAE (NYSE: CAE; TSX: CAE), world leader in aviation training, today inaugurated their new aviation training center in the Clark Freeport Zone, northwest of the national capital of Manila.

The joint venture, known as the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training, Inc. (PAAT), will initially cater to Airbus A319/320/321 series pilot type-rating training requirements and will provide "wet" instructor-led type-rating training to CEB's current and new-hire pilots, and to other aircraft operators of the region.

"PAAT will definitely put the Philippines on the map when it comes to world-class, state-of-the-art aviation training," said Cebu Pacific Air President and CEO Lance Gokongwei. 

"This is the first CAE aviation training center in the Philippines, and we are very proud of this joint venture. It will be essential in meeting the training requirements not only of our growing number of aviation professionals at Cebu Pacific Air, but also of other aircraft operators in the region."

CEB will take delivery of a total of 50 Airbus A320, A321neo and A330 aircraft until 2021. It is scheduled to launch its long-haul flights in the 3rd quarter of 2013.

"CAE is very pleased to partner with Cebu Pacific Air to offer the highest-quality aviation training in the Philippines," said Jeff Roberts, CAE's Group President of Civil Simulation Products, Training and Services. "Our global network of training locations provides airlines and other aircraft operators a complete training solution for their personnel. The PAAT is equipped with the latest simulation and training technology, and the training is delivered by well-qualified, experienced instructors. We are confident that this new facility will enhance aviation safety and operational efficiency in the region."

The state-of-the-art training center is currently equipped with one Airbus A320 full-flight simulator. Delivery of a second A320 simulator is planned for 2013, and the facility can accommodate two additional simulators. The center will have the capacity to train over 2,500 pilots annually, as well as other aviation professionals, offering initial, recurrent, conversion and jet indoctrination training to Airbus operators. Training for other aviation personnel such as cabin crew, dispatch, ground handling personnel and cadets is also planned for the future.

This is the 45th location in CAE's global network of training locations for commercial aircraft, business aircraft and civil helicopter operators. PAAT is also part of the CAE-Airbus Training Cooperation Network.

Toronto Flight

December 3, 2012

By Boo Chanco

Philippine Airlines has return to Toronto after 15 long years absence flying three times a week. However Starting January 16, 2013, the Toronto flights will increase to four times a week with temporary stopovers at Vancouver and on March 10, 2013, the service will become daily, with the addition of three non-stop flights every week.  At the foreground is RP-C7775 arriving Toronto Pearson Airport on Nov. 30

It was a fiesta atmosphere at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to mark the arrival of Asia’s first airline in Canada’s premier city. They even had Filipino folk dances performed at the airport by a dance troupe of local Filipino youth. Tomorrow (Sunday in Manila), Kapamilya stars Rachel Ann Go and Toni Gonzaga will lead the launch of the PAL Toronto service and promote The Filipino Channel (TFC) at the Paskuhan Village at the Metro Toronto Convention Channel. Both stars traveled with us from Manila on the inaugural flight.

PAL had been serving the Pacific coastal city of Vancouver for a number of years now but this is the first time it is flying directly from Manila to Toronto on Canada’s eastern flank. The inaugural flight was on a brand new Boeing 777-300ER (RP-C7775 arrive in July while RP-C7774 arrive in November), which arrived last Nov. 7 direct from Boeing’s plant in Seattle, Washington. The flight has set new high standards for the airline.

I see it as the coming out party for San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon S. Ang who has worked tirelessly over the last few months to re-make the airline which many have commented has seen a lot better days. Unfortunately, RSA managed to get only as far as the send off ceremonies at NAIA T2 because he had a respiratory problem similar to that which afflicts P-Noy. His doctor warned him that if he braved Toronto’s sub zero winter weather, he would be courting pneumonia.

When RSA was thinking of getting into PAL, we talked about the pros and cons of such a move. I must confess I wasn’t too upbeat about the chances of the airline being saved. It had a dismal financial performance year after year and it carried the burden of being the flag carrier of a country under Category 2 of the US FAA and also banned from flying in European airspace.

RSA had his doubts too and at one point, I thought he gave up on the thought of being a white knight to save the airline. But through all our conversations, I could sense that deep in his heart, RSA wanted to take on the challenge.

He talked like a little boy eagerly anticipating Santa Claus on Christmas Eve as we chewed the merits of San Miguel getting into PAL. I thought like a San Miguel shareholder worried about acquiring what looked like a dead weight of an investment. In an era dominated by low cost carriers, PAL was a legacy airline burdened by an excess of staff that are older than that of its competitors and not as well versed in the use of new technology for marketing and operations.

But RSA was sure he could turn PAL around, if that is the last thing he will do ever. He told me that he is a mechanic and a pilot and he has proven his marketing skills in San Miguel. He is confident he has what it takes to make Filipinos proud of its flag carrier again.

So he managed to convince Lucio Tan to let him buy a minority share in the airline but to let him manage it. The taipan, possibly too tired of the airline’s many problems and its continuing cash drain, agreed to let RSA and San Miguel in.

When I heard the news, I was glad for PAL and RSA. I thought it will be good for both. I also relished the thought that San Miguel beer will once again be available in PAL flights.

The big problem that RSA faced upon assuming management control of the airline is what to do with all those new B 777s that have been delivered and soon to be delivered. The 777s are ideal for the Manila trans-Pacific flights to the US West Coast but because the Philippines was in Category 2, PAL cannot change aircraft types, even if the aircraft was made by a US company.

Eventually, the decision was made to field its brand-new, Boeing 777, on the 15-hour, non-stop flight to Toronto. The luxurious wide-body jet is especially designed for such ultra-long-haul, intercontinental journeys. Its two GE 90-115BL engines – the largest and most powerful ever built – can readily cover the 13,230 kilometers between the two cities non-stop.

PAL President Ramon S. Ang (center) flanked by (from left) Tourism Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz, Canadian Ambassador Christopher Thornley, Transportation Undersecretary Jose Lotilla and Miaa General Manager Jose Angel Honrado
The inaugural flight to Toronto was also an opportunity to launch the airline’s make-over. With 42 seats in Mabuhay Class (business) and 328 in Fiesta Class (economy), the configuration is designed to give passengers a taste of what it is to be pampered with PAL’s new signature inflight service.

Forget those old bulky business class seats in the 747s that often don’t work to maximize comfort. The 777s feature plush, well-appointed Recaro seats that recline to a lie-flat angle.

Cuisine is also much improved. Gone are the days when all I really wanted on those long flights to Los Angeles was the lugao. Well known chefs now work to satisfy palates like never before.
The Manila-Toronto run will give the Philippine flag carrier a direct link to Canada’s largest city. It is also the airline’s first gateway on the vital East Coast of North America in 15 years. From Toronto, it is just a skip and a hop to both New York and Chicago, among the more important cities for the Filipino community in North America.

RSA however emphasized that he was also “always keen to develop new markets and Toronto, with its diverse population, booming economy and status as one of the world’s top financial centers, presents us a major opportunity to do so.”

“There has long been a big clamor from our customers in Toronto and all along Canada’s eastern seaboard, particularly the large Filipino community, for a PAL service to their part of the country,” he added.  “We heard them loud and clear, and we’re excited to serve them.”

Indeed, Filipinos represent the third largest Asian Canadian Group. The Indian and Chinese communities rank first and second, respectively in terms of size among Asian Canadian groups.
Some 200,000 Filipinos live in the Greater Toronto area. The second largest concentration is in Vancouver at about 111,000.

Next is Winnipeg with 70,000. When I visited Winnipeg over five years ago, I noticed that there is a Filipino town on the way from the airport with Tagalog names for the streets like Mabuhay among others. I was told Winnipeg was an export garments manufacturing hub and many Filipinos worked in the factories.

Many new Filipino migrants end up in the boom metropolis of Calgary, which benefited from the energy sector. It now hosts about 55,000 Filipinos.

There are about 60,000 Filipinos in Montreal and 50,000 in Edmonton.

When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Manila early this month, he commented that Tagalog is now the fastest growing language in Canada. Harper also said Filipino communities are the fastest growing in Canada, even in the farthest and most remote areas.

Flying to Toronto may prove to be a good business decision. Not only does PAL have a growing Filipino market, it also allows use of its new Boeing 777-300ER aircrafts, pending the upgrade of our status to Category 1. It will also mark the latest product improvements since San Miguel Corporation (SMC) took management control of the flag carrier in April 2012.

With this Toronto inaugural flight, Ramon S. Ang is serving notice that Asia’s oldest airline is now also Asia’s newest… newest fleet… newest reiteration of the world renown Filipino service quality. Hope it works. For now, it sure made Filipino hearts in this city where temperature is six degrees below zero, warm with pride.

Little SEAIR fly Basco again

Start flight December  7

SEAIR International flies back into the air introducing flight to Basco in Batanes starting December 7, 2012 after securing Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) on November 21.

The little airline emerging from 4 month hiatus due to corporate reorganizations intends to fly twice a week on a DO-328 turboprop to the Philippines northernmost outpost followed by flights to El NIdo in Palawan and Mabajao in Camiguin, a tourists island north of Cagayan de Oro.

Avelino Zapanta, Seair I President, said the little company created out of SEAIR, is allowed by the CAB to fly regular scheduled flights, chartered flights, and freight cargo.

SEAIR bagged its CPCN for scheduled domestic operations last July. It is also seeking approval for a non-scheduled international CPCN with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

"Aside from the Dorniers and the Lets, we have a falcon 10 jet for VIP charters, and also a Boeing 737-200 for Cargo flights." Zapanta said.

Zapanta said they are still flying to Boracay via Kalibo on Seair's Airbus flights. Seair has no plans of returning to Caticlan, the pioneer airport the airline grew with because of adequate services to the airport by other airlines.

The airline intends to introduce and develop inter-Palawan flights by moving one of its LET plane to Puerto Princesa airport and make it its new hub after Manila.

Seair terminated all its turboprop services after Singapore-based Tiger Airways completed its investments paying 40% of the airlines capital and converting the airline to low cost operations and all-airbus fleet for commonality of operations with parent firm.

"Seair International was formed to take the turboprop division of the airline which was excluded in the share sale with Tiger.” says Zapanta.

Starting next year, Seair will be rebranded into Tiger Airways Philippines and officially joined the fold of the tiger airways brand, while the online reservations used by Seair before will be reactivated under the website (