Airbus Grants 5th A330 Delivery Slots To PR in 2013

5th Delivery to arrive in December

28 September 2013
RP-C8782 departing Toulouse for Manila. It is expected to arrive in the Philippine capital at 11:15 in the morning Saturday

Toulouse - Philippine Airlines (PAL) gains delivery slots after the European plane maker decided to raise the production rate for its A330 Family to ten aircraft a month beginning April in 2013.

As a result, one more A330 is destined for PAL in 2013 after Airbus approved its request to amend delivery slots for one more aircraft arising from increase in production schedules.

Airbus turns out eight A330 Family aircraft each month when PAL entered its orders for initial 10 high gross variant new generation A330s. This monthly rate was increase to nine in early 2012, before reaching rate ten in the second quarter of 2013.

"We are now starting the next phases of our fleet renewal, anchored on new generation A330-300s. This aircraft opens up new frontiers in our rapidly growing networks as well as in service innovations for our passengers," Ramon S. Ang, PAL President said in a statement.

Ang said the new A330 will be used for the inaugural flight to Abu Dhabi on October 1, marking the flag carrier's re-entry to the Middle East after 3 years.

"The A330 is earmarked for our Middle East route" Ang said.

Ismael Augusto Gozon, PAL Senior Vice President For Operations  said PAL expects to receive five more A330-300s in the fourth quarter instead of the original four, with the 5th frame to be delivered in December after Airbus offered the slot to the airline Wednesday.

Gozon said that with the new delivery schedule its expansion to the Middle East will proceed as scheduled.

The new A330HGW powered by Trent 772B-60 engine from Rolls-Royce accommodates 414 passengers, configured into two classes —Premium Economy, with 39 seats, and Economy, with 375 seats.

The Premium Economy Class is fitted with the Spectrum 1st seat from B/E Aerospace.  With a pitch of 34 inches, this mechanical seat is ergonomically designed to provide more knee and legroom, plus lumbar support and multi position adjustable headrest.

Economy Class seats, are likewise, from the Spectrum line, offering a pitch of 30 to 31 inches and an ergonomic design to enhance comfort.

Gozon said they intend to fly the 5 new A330s for delivery this year all to the Middle East, with the last Middle East bound aircraft to be delivered in February next year. The remaining four frames to be delivered in 2014 are for services to Korea, Japan, and Australia.  

The next tranche of A330 deliveries for 2015 will be the 242t variant for services to Europe, Hawaii and Canada.

Airbus expects the newest 242t variant of the A330 to reach London and Vancouver comfortably with the MTOW range of 6,100nm at 300 passengers configuration.

PR Takes First A321 Delivery With Sharklets

28 September 2013

RP-C9903 (5787) Second A321-200 plane to be fitted with sharklets delivered to the Philippines on 27 September 2013

Clark Fails AirAsia

Relocates to Manila

19 September 2013

Clark Airport doesn't work. At least for Air Asia Philippines(PQ) which learned it the hard way after operating barely two years at Clark despite backings from Air Asia Berhad, Asia's biggest low cost carrier.

Air Asia will suspend all flights out of Clark effective 8 October said airline CEO Marianne Hontiveros last week.

Hontiveros disclosed the airline's scaling back operations was necessary because the company was reassessing its strategy and needs to cut unprofitable routes.

To survive competition it bought Zest Airways to gain access at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport valuable airport slots where it is diverting financial and manpower resources to support its affiliate's operation.

Despite this setback the Transportation Department (DOTC) remains keen on putting up a new budget terminal for Clark International Airport in Pampanga as it implements the dual airport system strategy.

Transport Secretary Joseph Abaya said the government was keen on supporting both Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark with the addition of new terminals catering to the fast-growing budget airline segment.

DOTC will build budget terminals for Clark and NAIA which could be built over the next two to three years.

The budget terminal for Clark would expand its capacity by about 4.5 million passengers while NAIA capacity will accommodate about 10 million passengers more from the present 25 million passengers per annum.

Zamboanga Re-opens with Caution

18 September 2014

CAAP Director General William K. Hotchkiss lll has authorized the re-opening of Zamboanga International Airport at least for flights to Manila enabling the airlines to mount two commercial flights starting Thursday, one each for PAL Express and Cebu Pacific, and two each on Friday.

The flights schedule remains confidential but the airport will open to commercial traffic beginning 1am tomorrow morning. Military flights are not affected with the closure.

On Tuesday, both DG Hotchkiss and DDG John C. Andrews went to Zamboanga City to assess the situation of Zamboanga Airspace.

CAAP Officials chartered a private plane owned by PAL president Ramon Ang to land at Zamboanga airport and consulted with the Crisis Management Committee headed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Mayor Beng Climaco.

The decision to open Zamboanga airport was made after security briefing was presented by the Philippine Air Force regarding the security situation on the ground of the approach path.

As briefed, airlines will need to do the approach, landing and departure procedures on runway 09 which is on the western side of the City.

Deputy Captain John C. Andrews will board the first flight out of NAIA tomorrow to Zamboanga City to oversee the preliminary flight. Regular scheduled and special flights is expected to resume Saturday.

Airline passengers permitted to fly will only be allowed to carry one hand-carried luggage on the flights.

SMC Enters Aircraft Leasing Business

To Support Trans-continental PAL Fleet

18 September 2013

Southeast Asia's largest conglomerate San Miguel Corporation opens an off-shore aircraft-leasing company to support the long haul fleet requirement of Philippine Airlines.

San Miguel Leasing plans to put up in its book an aircraft order for four Boeing 777-300ER, ten 777-900s and ten Airbus A350-900's aircraft from both manufacturers.

SMC President Ramon S. Ang said the Cayman-based company has market capitalization of 1 billion US dollars. 

Initial investments of $500 million was put up by SMC while the another $500 will come from the undisclosed buyer of Lucio Tan's 51 percent stake at Philippine Airlines. 

SMC admitted earlier that they are in talks with Japan's largest carrier, All Nippon Airways, for a 40% stake. Japanese Company, like Kirin Brewery owns substantial share of SMC shares. The remaining PAL shares is expected to be offered to the stock market.

“We intend to come up with another $500-million equity for the aircraft-leasing company that will be 100-percent owned by PAL,” Ang said during the sidelines of the re-launching of the airline’s flight to Europe.

Meanwhile, Ang said that PAL will lease from Airbus six more A340s over the next five years to cover services to Europe before the new long haul twins from Airbus and Boeing are delivered to them.

PAL will start Manila - London route on November 4 after 15 years of absence. The airline last flew to London Heathrow in 1998.

PAL Unveils New Mabuhay Lounge

17 September 2013

By Recto Mercene

Gracing the occasion are (from left), Ismael Augusto Gozon, senior vice president for Operations; Andrew Balde, assistant Terminal 2 manager; Iñigo Zobel, president, PALExpress; and Francisco Alejo III, San Miguel Purefood Co. Inc., president. (Recto Mercene)

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) on Tuesday unveiled its latest major improvement in world-class in-flight service on the ground for Mabuhay Class passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 (Naia 2).

The award-winning interior design by Warren Foster-Brown from FBEYE International, a Singapore-based company, is a 520-square-meter lounge, with all the amenities, such as a buffet table, library, mini-theater, minibar and dining area meant to give passengers “exceptional rest and dining experience.”

The company that Foster-Brown founded is focused on hospitality interior design that includes luxurious hotels, unique destination resorts, celebrity restaurants, spas, private residences, mega yachts and commercial offices. Foster-Brown won the prestigious award “Wave of the Future 2009” in Miami, Florida.

The Mabuhay Lounge was inaugurated by Iñigo Zobel, president, PalExpress; and Ismael Augusto Gozon, PAL senior vice president for operations.

Gozon, who delivered the speech in place of Pal President Ramon S. Ang, said the new ultramodern International Mabuhay Lounge “reflects the new vision and new identity of the PAL Group” and is the latest of many service enhancements PAL has made over the past year.

The PAL Group, he said, envisions “a full-service global carrier, with a fast expanding international network, utilizing the youngest and most modern fleet, with a focus on providing customers the best value, service and choices.”

The new lounge design features a combination of different lounges around the world, has the look and feel of the lounge that coincides with PAL’s growth strategy, warm and contemporary, rich and inviting.

LED lights provide the illumination, with less power consumption and most of all, give passengers that “exclusive” feeling that they have paid for.

Walking through toward the lounge, an illuminated sunbeam reminiscent of PAL’s logo on the ceiling welcomes visitors to the reception area. Similar to a hotel’s front desk, the new reception area gives a warm and inviting vibe. A storage area at the left side of the room is big enough for both coat and bags.

The dining area that could seat 80 has been revamped and made more spacious to diners to move around, even with their carry-on luggage. Leather-covered seats in beige give a touch of elegance, while the long table is great for passenger interaction. It has been dubbed the most popular place for tête-à-tête.

The focal point is a marble buffet table offering a wide selection of food that has been especially designed by PAL in partnership with San Miguel Purefoods Corp. 

Zamboanga Airspace

 We Figure What GMA7 doesn't Figure

14 September 2013

PAF PZL-W3 Sokol 250 PAW
USAF C130 carrying USAID relief goods from Okinawa.

Another USAF C130

Bell 214ST  N787SR

There were four Hueys flying at this time yesterday but only two Hueys together with Pilatus spy plane fit in frame.

USAF Pilatus U-28B planes 80718

The other pair of Hueys
USAF C-130 arrived at the Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City bringing relief supplies from US Aid being taken out by members of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force.                                                          .Photo by: JSOTF-P

PAF C-130 4704
PAF C-130 3633
USAF Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Fleet EAAB flying precision reconnaissance for PAF
Special Hajj flight to Cebu on board PAF C130 from Zamboanga

5J Prepares EU Clearance for November

14 September 2013

Cebu Pacific Air president and CEO Lance Gokongwei (left) walks with his father John Gokongwei, chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings Inc. ABS-CBN
Cebu Pacific will ask the European Union(EU) in November to lift the carrier's ban on its flights says the airline top official.

The The EU Air Safety Committee second meeting is scheduled on November  29. The Air Safety Committee convenes twice a year.

Cebu Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Gokongwei will send the airline’s team together with officials from Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) to present progress on its implementation of safety measures consistent with ICAO regulations as well as make applications to fly to EU country.

“We are likewise working toward a certification to be able to fly to Europe,” Gokongwei said at the sidelines of the delivery of Cebu Pacific’s second Airbus A330 aircraft Thursday.

Philippine Airlines was the first airline to be stricken off the lists maintained by the European Union that are not allowed to fly to EU airspace effective July 12, three years after the EU imposed ban on all Philippine-based airlines.

Cebu Pacific wants to be the only other airline off the lists.

PH to hold air talks with Israel, Russia next month

13 September 2013

By Lenie Lectura 

The Philippine Air panel will hold air talks with Israel and Russia next month, officials from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said on Thursday.

“The air talks in Israel are scheduled on November 4 and 5. We were the ones that initiated the discussion,” said Wyrlou Samodio, CAB legal head.

An Air Services Agreement (ASA) between the Philippines and Israel is long overdue for an amendment and the CAB official said, “We have existing bilateral agreement with Israel forged in the 1960’s or 1970’s. It’s time to amend it because there is only one frequency under that agreement.”

Samodio said Philippine Airlines (PAL) is interested to mount flights to Israel.

Also, the panel will seek to amend its ASA with Russia. “Manila will host the air talks with Russia. PAL is also interested to fly there,” added the CAB official.

The CAB forms part of the air panel, which negotiates for air entitlements with other countries.  It is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), mandated to regulate the economic aspect of air transportation, and shall have the general supervision, control and jurisdiction over air carriers, general sales agents, cargo sales agents and air freight forwarders.

Aside from the CAB, other members of the panel include the DOTC, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, and representatives from airline companies.

Early this month, the Philippines successfully negotiated an amended ASA with Italy.

“We got 14 flights per week between the Philippines and Italy,” said CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla. The previous agreement dated 1969 only allowed one frequency per week.

“There are 170,000 Filipinos in Italy. Rome and Milan can also be a jump-off point for traffic between Southern Europe and the Philippines,” said Arcilla.

PAL Secures LHR

Abandons Gatwick

13 September 2013

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has secured daily landing slots at London's Heathrow Airport, data from Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) disclosed.

Airport Coordination Limited (ACL)
is responsible for slot allocation, and schedules facilitation at London
Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City, London Luton and Manchester airports within the UK.

Approved slots are as follows:

LHR arrival   at 14:15
LHR departure at 17:50

PAL has applied the following winter schedules:

MNL-LHR       08:20 - 14:15
LHR-MNL       17:15 - 13:50(+1)

PAL secured the landing slots via slots trading valued between 2-5 million US dollars. Commencement of flight is expected to be launch on 4 November 2013 subject to regulatory approvals.

Following the recent LHR slot grant, PAL scrapped its earlier plan to fly Gatwick and code share deals with Etihad Airways to Manila. Instead, the airline will fly direct to the Philippines. It is expected to dock at Terminal 4.

PH Secures Daily Double Haneda Slots

PAL to fly Haneda beginning 2014

13 September 2013

The Philippines has secured double daily slots at Tokyo's Haneda airport, statement from the Civil Aviation Board disclosed.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the air panel group from Japan's Department of Transport agreed to the increase in traffic rights between the two countries for total maximum flight of 400 frequencies per week from the previous 119 flights as both countries signed new Air Service Agreement (ASA).

"We also agreed on new traffic rights between Haneda Airport and Manila at 14 flights per week for each side, and unlimited traffic rights between points in the Philippines except Manila and points in Japan except Haneda," Arcilla said.

Fifth freedom traffic rights to the United States remain as previously agreed while Japan's fifth freedom traffic to Australia stays.

Philippine Airlines(PAL) manifested its intent to add capacity to Tokyo via Haneda Airport beginning summer of 2014, while Cebu Pacific plans to get a slot at Narita Airport, additional frequency to Osaka and flights to Nagoya.

E-Tickets now allowed in the Philippines

12 September 2013

The Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) has allowed air passengers to present Electronic tickets, or e-tickets, as displayed on smart phones, tablets, and other mobile electronic devices to be accepted for entry and processing, other than printed copies of their tickets at the country's airports.

The Department of Justice has issued Operations Order No. 2013-003, titled "Removing the Requirement of Presentation of the Printed Hard Copy of Return and/or Onward Passage Ticket" announcing that electronic tickets will now suffice for entry and transit in the Philippines.

C130 to provide Ferry Flights out of Zamboanga

11 September 2013

The Philippine Air Force will ferry passengers out of Zamboanga City starting tomorrow using a single C-130 plane to General Santos City.

The Civil  Aviation  Authority of  the Philippines (CAAP) closed Zamboanga  International Airport Monday due  to reported firing incidents by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members to approaching civil and military aircraft landing from the east.

CAAP Director General William Hotckiss III issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airman) closing commercial air operations of Zamboanga International Airport to all carriers except military aircraft.

US and PAF Military planes are currently doing approach landing and departure at runway 09.

The lone PAF C-130 plane is currently stationed in Edwin Andrew Airbase which brought military reinforcements from other regions.

Ferry schedules are as follows:
  • 9:00 am  Philippine Airlines ticket holders
  • 1:00 pm  Cebu Pacific ticket holders
Return flights of the C-130 is expected to carry relief goods carried by airlines.

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific will provide connecting flights from General Santos to Manila.

PH Secures Double Daily To Italy

PR to fly Milan and Rome

6 September 2013

The Philippines has secured more landing rights to Italy after it was allowed 14 weekly frequency to the country following negotiations made on September 4 and 5.

Carmelo Arcilla, Executive Director of the Civil Aeronautics Board, said talks with Italy is long overdue since its 1969 ASA deal which allows one flight per week. Philippine Airlines last flew to Italy in 1994.

The negotiation was made possible after Philippine Airlines (PAL) requested the government for talks since they have plans to launch flights to Italy, home to more than 170,000 Filipinos, with new generations A330-300's.

“Negotiations were needed because our existing air agreement with Italy does not grant access to Milan or any Italian points outside Rome and we want to fly there,”PAL senior vice president for external affairs Socorro Gonzaga said.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga said its daily flight to Paris will have to wait until 2014 after France scheduled the talks first quarter of next year.

Philippine Airlines hopes to fly Paris in November, London by December 2013, and add Rome and Milan to their route network in the summer of 2014.

Why FEDEX lose?

Federal Express must follow Philippine Law on Public Utility Ownership, similar to those employed by AirAsia and Tigerair

31 August 2013

By Ricardo J. Romulo

It was a surprising pronouncement made by the Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals. Issued in its Jan. 23, 2013 consolidated disposition of the cases of Merit Freight International Inc. and Ace Logistics Inc. both against Federal Express Pacific Inc. (“FedEx”), which were respectively docketed as CA – GR Sp. No. 119658 and CA – GR No. 121661, the decision delivered a message of a different kind.

It was clearly an intended signal. In its resolution of June 6, 2013, of the motion for reconsideration of FedEx, the court remained adamant and held that “after a meticulous study of the arguments set forth…” it found “no cogent reason, to revise, amend, much less reverse,” its decision made a few months earlier.

The flow of the Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals’ syllogism appeared impeccable: FedEx was admittedly a “foreign corporation.” Ergo, it was disqualified under our Constitution and laws from operating as an “International Airfreight Forwarder.” Reason? Because it was, at least to the court, “clearly a public utility.”

The legal basis for the disqualification was Section 11, Article XII of our present Constitution. In its relevant portion, that provision states that “no franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens…”

That mandate of the Constitution, though seemingly simple and familiar, was nevertheless subject of debate when we discussed it at the Constitutional Commission of 1986. In his sponsorship speech, Constitutional Commission member Bernardo M. Villegas, chair of the Committee on National Economy and Patrimony, admitted that “the Committee was divided” on “the question of foreign participation in the ownership of public utilities.”

On the floor of the commission, both during the period of interpellation and the period of amendments, the division was very palpable.

But the division was focused mainly on how much foreign ownership of public utilities was to be allowed. The members of the Committee on National Economy and Patrimony, at their level, riding with the tide of nationalism that was prevalent at the commission, had agreed to raise the then prevailing 60-percent Filipino minimum ownership under the 1973 Constitution to 66 percent and 2/3 percent.

Commissioner Jose Luis Gascon, during his turn to interpellate, pushed the envelope and asked if it was possible, in the interest of ensuring the common good, to further suggest, during the period of amendments, the increase of such minimum to 3/4 percent.

When everything was said and done, however, at the final voting, the old rule on the ownership of public utilities prevailed: at least 60-percent Filipino and no more than 40-percent foreign ownership, the same as it was, going back as early as the 1935 Constitution.

So, what was the surprise sprang by the recent Court of Appeals decision on FedEx? It is this: All along, most of us at the commission, myself included, had presumed that what was meant by “public utility” in the rule limiting foreign ownership was a “public utility” that was operating within the Philippines.

The place where the public utility operated was the bedrock of our conviction that it was prudent, for the protection of the Filipino public in the Philippines, who were the ones being served by the utility, to insist that the significant ownership of that utility be in the hands of Filipinos.

Our premise was accepted by those who implemented the law. The Department of Justice, on Nov. 9, 2004, in a letter addressed to then Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Tomas T. Mañalac, thought it timely to issue “a definitive opinion… after a careful and exhaustive review of the aforecited opinions, considerations of sound public policy and national interest, side by side with the pertinent constitutional and legal provisions, as well as doctrinal pronouncements on the matter.” Dispelling doubts that had been spawned by certain wayward opinions, then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez unequivocably opined that the nationality requirement applied only to domestic air commerce and/or air transportation and, to stress, it did not apply to international air freight forwarders.

Similarly, the general counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Vernette Umali-Paco, in her letter, dated Oct. 29, 2008, to lawyer Agerico T. Paras rejected the idea that a foreign corporation, in the business of air freight forwarding, could bypass the constitutional requirement and conduct its business in the Philippines by simply “buying space” from domestic shipping lines and airlines.

Such a notion that it was just “buying space” (and not doing business) could not ignore the fact that the foreign corporation would in a sense be acting as a public utility in the Philippines.

It is clear that the demarcation line, observed by the implementers of the law, that distinguishes a utility serving the public domestically from a utility that terminates its services once it unloads or uploads in the Philippines, is a crucial one. It is a point of balance that must be maintained, between our being open to the world of commerce beyond our borders and our objective to be in control of public utilities (i.e., PAL Cargo, LBC Express, Air 21 and Cebu Pacific Cargo) offering their services to the domestic market.

Ricardo J. Romulo is a senior partner of Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles.