Two New A321SL Joins PAL Fleet

30 October 2013

RP-C9906                                                             Images courtesy XFW

Two New Airbus A321-231SL planes from Toulouse arrives in Manila tonight one after another.

The fourth A321 plane of the PR fleet, RP-C9905 (MSN 5820) arrived in Manila at 6:30pm under delivery flight no. 8, while the fifth A321, registered as RP-C9906 (MSN 5825) arrived 30 minutes later under delivery flight no. 9.

 The two planes flew from Finkenwerder Airport in Hamburg Germany last night with fuel stops in Abu Dhabi, Don Muang Airport in Bangkok before heading to Manila.

In other news, the new generation A330-343X plane (RP-C8782) flew for the first time this afternoon bound for Abu-Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Its sister plane (RP-C8780) is scheduled to fly Dubai on Monday, November 4 under PAL Express.

Qatar Arrives in Clark

First To Offer Free Transfers To NAIA

29 October 2013

Qatar Airways opened at 9:40am Monday its daily Flight QR930 and QR931 Doha-Clark-Doha flights as its inaugural flight touched down at Clark Airport runway. 

The flight will be operated by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a two-class configuration with 248 seats in Economy and 36 in Business Class.

Manila Clark is the airlines 12th gateway in Southeast Asia and 133rd airport destination in the world. Clark International Airport is located about 96km from Manila City Centre.

Qatar Airways Country Manager Abdallah Okasha said that the new Clark Airport flights is better than NAIA airport departure and arrival as the airline offers complementary shuttle service to and from the metropolis and NAIA Terminal 3.

The airline offers passengers five complimentary direct bus service transfers to and from Trinoma Mall and Resorts World Manila fronting Manila International Airport Terminal 3 for domestic connections.

Qatar Airways hopes to double its flight in Clark in two years time which is the carriers third destination in the Philippines. The airline went to Cebu before they axe the route in March last year due to poor sales.

PAL Flies Vladivostok

Begins October 27

26 October 2013

Philippine Airlines will fly Airbus 320 jets to Eastern Russia in Vladivostok starting 27 October 2013 with charter services paid for by Russian travel company TM Biletur.

“The charters are fully paid for by Biletur, and if everything goes well, the service could grow into a regular flight,” said  Valeri Ishunkin, the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DoT) marketing representative for Russia.

The chartered flights are meant to address the "growing tourist arrivals from Russia," PAL said in a statement Saturday before the inaugural flight.

The first flight from Vladivostok PR761 departs at 8 am Russian time carrying 120 passengers. It is arriving in Manila at 9:30 am October 27. Its return flight PR760 leaves Manila at 11 pm on Thursday, November 7, arriving in Vladivostok at 6:30 am.

Chartered flights to and from the two cities will be scheduled every 10 days and will run until April 2014 where regular schedules flight is hoped to be in place after approval of air services agreement with Russia.

Tourism assistant secretary Benito Bengzon said they have noted increase in the number of tourists from the Russian Federation for the past three years, particularly coming from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk posting growth rate arrivals of 37 percent and 83 percent, respectively, in comparison to the previous year.

“We are seeing 30 percent growth rate before the end of the year,” Bengzon said.

The Philippines is requesting for daily A320 flights to Vladivosktok. Russians is the third largest number of foreign toursist from Euroasia whose visit into the country is growing in exponential numbers by the year.

Tourist arrivals from Russia increased by 40 percent or 28,270 in 2012. 

DOT officials expect the same growth rate this year. Russian arrivals reached 21,736 for the first eight months of this year equivalent to 32.53 % increase over the same period in 2012.

Dreamiliner Arrives in Manila

23 October 2013

Amidst airway congestion brought by radar maintenance, the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (BI 683) touches Manila runway at 2:30pm carrying 65 passengers from Bandar Seri Begawan. Royal Brunei is the first airline to operate the Boeing Dreamliner in South East Asia. 

B787 Schedules are listed as follows:
Bandar Seri Begawan – Manila v.v.
23OCT13 – 30NOV13 2 times weekly
BI683 BWN1200 – 1405MNL 787 37
BI684 MNL1505 – 1710BWN 787 37                                                                    Image courtesy

PAL Bags All Haneda Slots

21 October 2013

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has awarded Philippine Airlines (PAL) 14 slots out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport, citing premium services offered by the airline. It will join Japan's Air Nippon Airways (ANA )in servicing the route next summer.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said that Haneda is a premium airport which primarily caters to "corporate and business travel" as distinguished from leisure travel offered by other airport applicants.

Japan regulators aim is to keep Narita as the general international gateway to Tokyo while Haneda airport as Tokyo's business hub. 

Cebu Pacific and PAL Express made separate applications to fly Haneda but was rejected by CAB for being low cost airlines which doesn’t offer business class services.

Earlier, Cebu Pacific applied allocations for seven flights per week, while PAL Express applied for the entire 14 flights.

Arcilla disclosed that Haneda Airport was “clearly indicated” by their Japanese counterpart as "premium airport" intended to cater for corporate and business travelers as compared to Narita Airport which is generally open for leisure flights.

Meanwhile, CAB has approved other applications of Philippine carriers to Japan as follows:


  • Manila to Narita vice versa (14 flights per week)
PAL Express
  • Manila to Narita vice versa (14 flights per week
  • Cebu to Narita vice versa (7  flights per week)
Cebu Pacific
  • Manila to Narita vice versa (14 flights per week)
  • Manila to Nagoya vice versa (3 flights per week)
  • Manila to Fukuoka vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Cebu to Narita vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Cebu to Kansai vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Cebu to Nagoya vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Manila to Hiroshima vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Manila to Sapporo vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Manla to Okinawa vice versa (7 flights per week) 
  •  Manila to Ibaraki vice versa (7 flights per week )
Zest Airways
  • Manila to Narita vice versa (7 flights per week )
  • Manila to Osaka vice versa (7 fligts per week)
  • Manila to Nagoya vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Kalibo to Nagoya vice versa (3 flights per week)
  • Kalibo to Osaka vice versa (4 flights per week )
  • Cebu to Osaka vice versa (4 flights per week )
Tigerair Philippines
  • Manila to Narita vice versa (14 flights per week)
  • Manila to Oosaka vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Clark to Narita vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Clark to Osaka vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Cebu to Narita vice versa (14 flights per week)
  • Kalibo to Narita vice versa (7 flights per week)
Air Asia Philippines
  • Manila to Narita vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Manila to Osaka vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Manila to Nagoya vice versa (7 flights per week)
  • Kalibo to Nagoya vice versa (3 flights per week )
  • Kalibo to Osaka vice versa (4 flights per week)
  • Cebu to Osaka vice versa (4 flights per week)
The new services will be over and above existing traffic rights between the Philippines and Japan. 

Currently, PAL enjoys daily flights to Narita, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka while Cebu Pacific has daily entitlements to Osaka.

Philippines to Japan weekly one-way frequencies by carrier: 
30-Sep-2013 to 20-Oct-2013

PAL controls 43 percent of total seat capacity in the Philippine-Japan market  with 31 weekly flights to Japan while Cebu Pacific has 3 weekly flights to Osaka generating less than three percent.

Japan international seat capacity by country: 7-Oct-2013 to 20-Oct-2013

Manila Radar Closes For Preventive Maintenance

20 October 2013

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced Sunday the closure of Manila Radar facility for 30-hour preventive maintenance procedure (PMP) beginning 1 a.m. on October 23 until October 24 for a total of 30 hours downtime, according to Deputy Director General Capt. John C. Andrews.

The radar shutdown will result in longer separation times between landing and departing flights as it prevents Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) from monitoring aircraft in the air due to repair and overhaul of Manila Approach Radar Antenna Pedestal.

Manila Airspace restrictions includes curtailment of aircraft movements in the air that will limit the number of aircraft under ATC control to 11 arrivals and 11 departures per hour from the usual 20 to 25 flights, exclusion of General-Aviation (Gen-Av) flights from using NAIA complex other than emergency.

To ease aircraft congestion at NAIA complex, departure flights will be subject to Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) release and departure and airlines will be advised of their Estimated Departure Clearance Time (EDCT) while waiting for clearance on the ground.

Andrews said all landing and takeoff procedures at NAIA would require visual flight rules (VFR) or “conventional” means, using celestial navigation and Standard Instrument Departure (SID).

“International flight schedules will be first priority for arrival and departure sequence,” Andrews said.

Skyjet Overshots Balesin Runway

19 October 2013

A  four-engine BAE 146-200 plane (MSN E2031) operated by Skyjet Airlines (RP-C5525) overshot Balesin Runway while attempting to land at Polilio Island's private airport around 11:50 a.m. The chartered plane came from Manila and was carrying 68 passengers and 7 crews when it skidded the runway. No one was reported injured among the passengers and crew.                                                                               photo courtesy by @jackiesese

Iturri Files Graft Case Against CAAP Bids Officials

Wrong Chassis? or Wrong Company?

19 October 2013

By Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Iturri-Protec-Toro 4X4 Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Vehicle.                         Image courtesy from Gary Parkinson

Two Spanish companies and their local partner here have filed a complaint against officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for disqualifying them from a P1.24-billion airport fire truck procurement project.

Iturri S. A. and Protec Fire S. A., which have offices in Metro Manila, brought charges before the Ombudsman against the CAAP bids and awards committee for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and the Procurement Reform Law, among others.

They also asked that the following be investigated for possible criminal and administrative liabilities: retired Brig. Gen. Rodante Joya, the bids and awards committee chair; lawyer Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, the committee vice chair; and committee members Raul Glorioso, Jose Luna, Concordia Pagkaliwangan and Edgardo Felisilda.

The two firms, with their Philippine joint venture partner, Palmer Asia, had already pre-qualified for the project.

The Iturri joint venture was declared the lowest bidder for the procurement of 37 units of aircraft rescue firefighting (ARFF) equipment and rapid intervention vehicles with an approved budget of P1.239 billion from the Department of Transportation and Communications, of which the CAAP is an attached agency.

The Iturri joint venture complainants asked that the Ombudsman issue a preventive suspension against the respondents so they would not be able to influence the outcome of the investigation.

They also asked that the Ombudsman stop the further bidding or rebidding of the project.

According to Iturri lawyer Hernan Nicdao, the joint venture was last June declared to have passed all the legal, technical and financial conditions set by the bids and awards committee.

Iturri then submitted the lowest bid for the project for just P978 million, or P260 million lower than the approved budget. Its bid was lower by P178.5 million from the P1.156 billion of the next lowest bidder.

On July 8, 2013, however, Iturri was disqualified by the bidding committee supposedly after finding that it had failed to comply with the requirement that the chassis of its fire trucks should be noncommercial.

The bidding committee apparently overturned the recommendation of the technical working group, which had deliberated on the bids for more than one month and unanimously recommended that the project be awarded to Iturri, Nicdao said.

“The sudden resort to too much technicality by the BAC in determining what a ‘noncommercial’ chassis is, is baffling, if not outright whimsical,” the complaint said.

“It was as if the definition was stretched too much, if only so that the Iturri fire truck chassis would be deemed as commercial,” it said.

Iturri appealed the disqualification and presented certificates from the Spanish government and other international agencies to prove to the committee that the chassis of their truck was not commercial.

In fact, it claimed to have been awarded contracts of this kind not just in Spain but also in the United Kingdom where it delivered the same noncommercial fire trucks it was offering the CAAP.

PAL Retains Middle East Code Shares

16 October 2013

By Lenie Lectura

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) maintains its code-share deal with Middle East carriers despite having recently launched its return flight to Abu Dhabi.

PAL President Ramon Ang, in an interview, said the code-share arrangement with Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways stays. “Yes, we will continue. There will be no conflict. The market is big enough for everyone,” he said.

Code share is an aviation business term in which two or more airlines share the same flight. A seat can be purchased on one airline but is actually operated by another airline under a different flight code.

Etihad currently mounts two flights per day, or a total of 14 weekly flights, via a code-share agreement with PAL.

PAL, on October 1, flew to Abu Dhabi. It mounts five weekly flights.

Four other cities in three Gulf countries will be linked by PAL and its affiliate PAL Express to Manila before the year ends—Dubai and Doha in November, and Riyadh and Dammam in December.

“The return of PAL to the Middle East will not only offer Filipino workers the most direct link to the Philippines but also provide travelers convenient connections with PAL’s extensive international and domestic route network from our hub in Manila,” Ang said.

With PAL and Qatar Airways on code-share cooperation, Doha will be served by both airlines.

Meanwhile, PAL Express will operate its first long-haul flight to Dubai on November 6 via a code-share arrangement with Emirates. PAL Express will also use the new A330-300 on a five-times-a-week service to Dubai.

Etihad President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said PAL’s return to the Middle East will not affect the good relationship between the two airlines.

“The more entrants the better, because it stimulates activity. It may take away some share but it will be good for the people because they will be aware that Abu Dhabi is a transfer point. It’s just a matter of lining up the flights,” he said in an earlier interview.

Besides, Etihad is looking to add more flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi to service the growing demand for travel.

From twice daily, Etihad wants to mount three daily flights. “Obviously, the Philippines is a very strong market. At some point in time, we would like it to become thrice daily,” Hogan added.

Emirates Philippines Country Manager Gigi Baroa, likewise, said the code-share deal with PAL remains unchanged for now. “It is still in place, that’s what I can say,” she replied, when asked if there are negotiations to extend or discontinue the deal.

An industry source said, though, that some of PAL’s code-share contracts “is good until end of November.” PAL officials declined to comment on this.

Brunei First To Fly 787 to Manila

15 October 2013

Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) will fly its Boeing 787 aircraft to Manila, becoming the first Southeast Asian operator of the type to operate in the country beginning October 23.

The carrier will first deploy the aircraft on Bandar Seri Begawan-Singapore route on October 18 followed by Kuala Lumpur services on the 19th and Manila on the 23rd.

The airline operates a fleet of six Airbus A320 and four Boeing 777-200ERs. It has four more 787-8s on order.

Tigerair Earns Its Stripes

14 October 2013

By Ching M. Alano

Singapore-based Tiger Airways Holdings is committed to infuse 25 new planes in its network in three to five years. It will soon fly to Naga, Tagbilaran, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, and Tawi Tawi.

MANILA, Philippines - It’s an awesome, roaring year for Tigerair Philippines as it earns its stripes by offering some of the lowest budget fares, the newest fleet of aircraft, and the most competent pilots in the industry.

And did you know that of all the budget airlines, Tigerair has the biggest hand-carry baggage allowance?  While other airlines allow only seven kilos, Tigerair gives passengers 10 kilos free of charge. For check-in baggage, passengers pay from 15 kilos up (about P250-300 per kilo).

A roaring good year

Fact is, Tigerair has a lot to roar about. This year, Tigerair Philippines plans to increase its revenue forecast to P5 billion, three times more than last year. Tigerair is bullish that there will be more travelers from wider segments of society, what with the increased tourism targets of the Department of Tourism.

Of course, who’s not attracted to low fares? I’m sure there are places you dream of going to without having to pay a price that will give you a nightmare. “Yes, we can afford to lower our prices because we can balance the prices with the load factor,” says Olive Ramos, president/CEO of Tigerair Philippines and the first female CEO of Seair (Southeast Asian Airlines, whose parent company is Tiger Airways). “If you lower your price, it can be offset by the increase in load factor. We’re still in the investment mode; this is the best time to take Tigerair because we’re just introducing the brand to the market. Which is why investors are willing to sell fares at the lowest prices and take some losses.”

Flying high: “Budget airlines connect families and loved ones. We’re really here to serve Filipinos — now, they have a choice,” asserts Olive Ramos, Tigerair Philippines president/CEO, with Joey Laurente, VP for commercial. Photo by JUN MENDOZA

Low prices, high quality

Olive asserts that it is Tigerair’s dream to make traveling more affordable to Filipinos while providing them with a quality airline with excellent standards of safety, security, and reliability — a caring and highly trained cabin crew, the most experienced pilots (there’s an American pilot, a British pilot, and Filipino pilots from the Air Force, aged 30 years old and up, with a minimum of 3,000 flying hours), and an aircraft fleet made in Toulouse, France, and no older than three years old (plus a new set of bigger aircraft — three Airbus A320s and two Airbus A319s — that can fly to key cities).

The highs of flying low-cost

This peripatetic lady CEO who lives a high-flying (literally speaking) lifestyle gets us sold on why we should take a low-cost carrier. Olive points out: “If you take a budget airline, you can leave at 12 midnight. If you’re going to Singapore, for instance, you’re there before 5 a.m. If you take the 6 a.m. flight, you’re there by 9 a.m. You don’t need to book a hotel; you can leave on the same day. You save on a hotel and you can maximize your time.”

And, of course, you save on the fare. On non-budget airlines, a round-trip ticket to Singapore easily costs P25K while on budget airlines, it’s only P14K, two-way. You also save on the terminal fee, which is half the price at midnight.

She hastens to add, “With non-budget airlines, food is included in the fare and they won’t reimburse it if you don’t eat your food. Who really likes to eat airline food?”

On Tigerair, a packaged meal, which is not included in the fare, costs P350.

As if she hasn’t convinced us enough, Olive asks,  “Why choose a full-service airline when you can have a budget airline where the seats are few and you can be taken care of better?”

Associated with the strengths of the Singapore-based Tigerair brand, this ferocious airline aims to give passengers a seamless, value-for-money travel experience.

Its Airbus A320s and Airbus A319s, the newest in the low-cost carrier segment, are configured to carry less seats and passengers to give them wider legroom.

Now flying to Phuket

Tigerair Philippines currently flies to Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and local destinations such as Clark, Laoag, Bacolod, Kalibo, Cebu, Iloilo, Tacloban, and Puerto Princesa. It hopes to open up more tourist and commuter routes to Naga, Bohol, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, and Tawi Tawi.  Tigerair now also flies from Singapore to Kalibo, making it the only carrier to directly fly this route. It will soon fly to Phuket from Manila.

Visibly excited about their new Thai destination, Olive personally recommends Phuket, especially for the WTAs (women who travel alone), as Thailand offers an amazingly different culture. And, of course, shopping is cheaper in Phuket than Bangkok (how low can you get!).

Olive shares more soaring good news: “Singaporean Tiger Airways Holdings (which owns 40 percent of Tigerair Philippines) plans to infuse 25 new places in its network in three to five years, allowing us to service more routes and passengers.”

Tigerair is the only airline flying out of Clark (for its international flights). “Clark fuel has no tax, which is why we can bring our prices down. “One of my priorities is to lobby for our international flights out of Terminal 4,” Olive declares. “I have already touched base with the government agencies that can assist us on this, and I hope this becomes a reality soon.”

Meanwhile, there’s a bus that goes to Clark International Airport that you can take from either TriNoma or SM North on North Avenue, Quezon City.  Bus fare is P200 and the bus comes every half hour.

New name, new business model

Why the change of name (from Seair to Tigerair)? “We’re using a different business model now,” explains Joey Laurente, Tigerair Philippines VP for commercial, who counts years and years of experience in the travel industry. “Seair caters to what’s called ‘missionary routes’ like Batanes, Coron, Busuanga, Caticlan — specialized destinations where not too many carriers can fly because you need a smaller aircraft. We’re now flying the Airbus A320, which is bigger than the Dornier they were using and we fly to key cities now — domestically we go to Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Kalibo, Tacloban. We changed our destinations, we changed our market type, so we really had to rebrand.”

He adds, “Seair will be starting again; they will be flying to their usual routes like Boracay, which is not competing with us because we don’t fly there anyway.”

Tigerair is looking at new international destinations as well, like Narita and Osaka in Japan and even China.

Coffee, Tea or Tee?

“Our market mix includes tourists, business travelers, as well as our kababayan overseas Filipino workers who fly back to visit their relatives,” Joey enumerates. “From Bangkok and Singapore, we get a lot of golfers who go to play in Clark (Mimosa) and go trekking. We noticed there are a lot of tourists who go to the northern part of the Philippines because they’ve been to the south. They want to explore the northern part, which is really fantastic so at least we don’t crowd ourselves in the south. We should really focus on up north because it’s really a nice destination as well; some people go to Pinatubo.”

Indeed, Tigerair attracts all market types. However, its main thrust is leisure travelers. “And very much the young travelers, 18 to 30 years old, because we give competitive prices,” Joey stresses. “The young ones are the bulk of our market. As far as selling is concerned, we distribute our tickets through the Internet and the young ones are really the ones who are Internet-savvy. We have promo prices that can go from zero fare to P1,000, that’s why you have to like us on Facebook. The promos come every week. And we’re tying up with the tour operators to help us with the land arrangements. We have family packages as well.”

Joey sees Filipino travelers today as very price-sensitive and more demanding; they want to make the most of their hard-earned money. They are more mature, they want to travel, see places.

Joey shares some valuable tips with first-time travelers: Choose a budget airline (like Tigerair), be more adventurous, learn as much as you can, adapt to change. He remembers the time he drove to Iloilo (you have to take the Roro, check the schedule, you can leave after work), with his wife, daughter, son, two brothers-in-law, and his mother-in-law. It took them a week to get to Iloilo, stopping to enjoy the view in Mindoro.

Olive notes, “Most Filipinos now travel a lot, they want to see their own country.  And now, with budget airlines, they can visit their families. Budget airlines connect families and loved ones. It’s now easy for our OFWs to see their loved ones. So, we improve people’s lives. We’re really here to serve Filipinos — now, they have a choice.”

Now, we can all roar with the Tiger.

Gigie Baroa: Flying high with Emirates Philippines

By Iris C. Gonzales
As published in The Philippine Star 
on October 1, 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Maria Brigitte “Gigie” Baroa’s story as Emirates Philippines country manager started with one “strange call.”

In the story, the voice on the other line asked to meet with Baroa and later on, asked her if she would be interested in joining Emirates.

This was in 1990 or one year after Baroa became the country manager for Air India.

“A year later I got some strange call. It was from somebody I totally didn’t know,” Baroa told The Star.

“’We’re from Emirates. We’re in town and we’re seeing friends and your name came up. We’ve looked at the list of airlines operating from Manila and we’d like to learn more about Air India and we’d like to meet with you,” Baroa quoted the caller as saying.

Baroa agreed to the meeting, held at the lobby of then Philippine Plaza Hotel.

“We discussed tourism industry what kind of traffic I had at Air India. Right, then and there ‘they said, would you be interested to join us?’” Baroa said, her eyes still beaming as she recalled the fateful call.

It would be the start of a career in Emirates for Baroa.

Yet at the onset, Baroa was destined to become big in the travel and tourism industry.

Tourism, for her, was simply love at first sight.

“It’s really the joy of being out in the field more than anything else. I knew from college that I would not do a desk job. I was taking economics and I could not imagine myself in a desk in a bank. My parents wanted me to be a banker. I had to think of something else. I wanted to be really good,” Baroa said.

At the time, during her college days, tourism was a big thing.

“This was the Marcos days. I was really active in school,” she said.

Together with a college friend, Baroa put up the very first travel organization in Ateneo, the Ateneo Travel Club.

“We would put up packages for domestic runs for friends, during the holidays, she said.

She eventually moved to the Asian Institute of Tourism at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

“Tourism was a big thing. I said oh-my-God that’s perfect for me. So I moved. I finished first tourism and then a year after, I finished my economics,” she said.

From school, one of her professors asked her to work with the Andres Soriano Group or Anscor.

“At the time, they were the big guns. They still owned San Miguel, Coke…I started with their travel unit called Tours Specialist and then they set up a travel holding company to combine, in-bound, out- bound flights, conventions, events and merchandising,” she narrated.

“I was moved to the holding company called Anscors’ Tourism Development Corp. When I moved out of the company, I was already conventions manager and then I had a short stint with an exhibition company. This gave me an international experience in handling conventions here,” she said.

Her experience made her ripe for a stint at Air India, which would later become her stepping-stone to the giant Emirates.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Yet Baroa recalls that putting up Emirates in the Philippines was quite a challenge.

 “In the past, Middle East carriers were for labor traffic only. The perception was that it was smelly or only meant for cheap labor. It was difficult during our first year,” she said.

But with enough experience, Baroa carried on and pushed to bring Emirates in the radar screen of Filipino travellers.

“I was very lucky because the sales manager I had at the time was a Filipina who could speak both English and Chinese and at the time, we only had two to three flights a week via Hong Kong and of all time slots our Manila-HK had a departure of 5:30 in the morning. My Manila HK was the worst time slot,” she said.

Baroa and her team was unfazed.

“We tried out everything from fairs to promos. We tried menu tasting. We wanted to show everybody that we were okay. We were the first Middle East carrier for leisure and not just for labor. Slowly, we had people trying out our Manila-HK flights promotions. We had our door- to-door with agents,” she said.

And because hard work always pays off, the Emirates’ Manila-HK flights became quite a hit among the Chinese market and the byahera crowd or the businessmen and women who have shops in Greenhills and would often go in and out of the country for new items.

 “Later on it became such a hit that we were able to get the Chinese Binondo market. We had traffic coming from Cebu to catch our Manila - HK flight. This was in spite of the early departure. We managed to come up with something that would attract them. You get to HK at 7 am you don’t waste time. You can maximize your stay in HK compared to our competitors at the time. That was our selling point,” she said.

Eventually, the HK station had grown full-blown that it could already operate on its own.

Now, Emirates Philippines remains true to Emirates position in the global airline industry market.

“We’re already one of the big boys. We’re no longer just the little brother,” Baroa said.

Now Emirates Philippines has 21 flights a week out of Manila, three times daily.

 “With the entry of Emirates into the market, we’d like to think that we’ve raised standards. We put in entertainment. We were the first carrier to do that. We had an inflight entertainment. We were the first one to have inflight entertainment operated from special buttons from the seat, tapping on the screen. Our price is really value for money,” she said.

Today, Emirates soars even higher with the launch of its Clark-Dubai flights on October 1.

The daily flights will aim to capture the overseas Filipino workers who hail from central and northern Luzon.

 “We hope we can grow further and expand the market. Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have thought of Clark. A study was made and our planning people said Clark is now ripe. It was a very thorough study. There’s a lot of investment but we’re pretty confident after a while, market will pick up. Passengers will realize there’s a lot of convenience in using Clark. It doesn’t make sense to go to Manila when all services are available in Clark,” she said.

Indeed, with Baroa at the helm, Emirates Philippines has nowhere to go but to fly higher.

DHL To Opens Logistic Hub In The Philippines

14 October 2013

German logistics company Deutsche Post DHL will invest $25 million in the Philippines in the next two years to be used for DHL Express and DHL Supply Chain business.

The Bonn-based company intends to operate at Clark International Airport for its delivery business where it intends to put up a state of the art warehousing facility to support its operations.

DHL Philippines employs 400 people in over 200 outlet locations serving over 100 cities and provinces nationwide. 

DHL operates four businesses, namely express, global forwarding, supply chain and mail.

AirAsia PH seeking Congress approval of Zest Air takeover

12 October 2013

The local unit of Southeast Asia's largest budget airline is seeking the Philippine Congress' approval of the takeover of Zest Air.

"We have already submitted our application to the Committee of Franchise. [But] we haven't reached the official inclusion in an agenda for Congress deliberation," Joy Caneba, AirAsia Zest executive vice president and chief operating officer told reporters.

Caneba said Philippines AirAsia plans to acquire more than 51 percent of Zest Airways Inc., which has been re-branded to AirAsia Zest.

"Hopefully, we can get it by the end of the year," she said.

Philippines AirAsia holds an 85 percent economic stake and a 49 percent voting interest in Zest Air, which in turn owns a 15 percent stake in the former.

AirAsia group owns 40 percent of Philippines AirAsia. The remaining 60 percent is held by Marianne Hontiveros, Michael Romero, Antonio Cojuangco and former ambassador Alfredo Yao.

Caneba said the Securities and Exchange Commission, Civil Aeronautics Board and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines already approved the rebranding of Zest Air into AirAsia Zest.

"Effective last week we were able to roll out a new brand, so Zest Air is now rebranded to AirAsia Zest. With the Air Asia name on board, we feel that we are able to offer better service and convenience to the passengers. There would be a lot more product and services that will be rolled out in the couple of months and years to come," Caneba said.

With the rebranding, she expects an increase and improvement in passenger traffic.

"Zest has a very good brand but I think with Air Asia name backing up, that should give more leverage and comfort to the passengers. So, we expect an increase in traffic for both domestic and international route.  For 2013, we expect to grow at least 15 to 20 percent," Caneba added.

The airline will launch flights between Cebu and Puerto Princesa, Davao and Cagayan de Oro starting November 15 with an all-in promo fare of P553. Also, Cebu-Kuala Lumpur flights would be offered at a promo fare of P680.

AirAsia Zest serves Kalibo (Boracay), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Cebu, Davao, Tagbilaran, and Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines and international points in Asia including China and South Korea.

AirAsia Zest operates a fleet of 13 servicing nine domestic and four international routes from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Air Asia X To Open Philippine Hub

Takes Over Clark Operations 
as short haul subsidiary invades NAIA

12 October 2013

After failing to make its low cost carrier brand worked in Clark International airport, Malaysia-based Airline AirAsia Berhad is preparing to bring into the Philippines its long haul subsidiary brand Air Asia X for flights to Australia, the Middle East and the United States.

AirAsia Zest chairman Michael Romero said AirAsia X will operate from Clark airport in two years time after they consolidated the operations of its short haul subsidiary out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 4.

“Our business model of making Clark our regional hub is not working for us. But Clark is now becoming a long-haul facility for airlines, and we are taking their cue” Romero said.

Earlier, the Malaysia based company infused another $100 million into Zest Airways operations to expand its fleet operations.

Owners of Air Asia Zest include AirAsia Berhad which hold the majority share of 40% while the rest belongs to Michael Romero, Antonio Cojuangco Jr., Marianne Hontiveros and Alfredo Yao.

“We will formally relaunch as Air Asia Zest. We will acquire more planes. Right now, we have 13 planes. We’ll go to 16 planes before the end of the year,” Romero said.

Air Asia Philippines will fly the Air Asia X brand while Air Asia Zest will take charge of its short haul operations feeding traffic to the former.

Romero, who is vice chairman of AirAsia Philippines, explained the necessity of building its domestic and regional network from AirAsia Zest as it would pool traffic from Manila's short-haul flights and transfer them to Clark for AirAsia X long haul flights.

Air Asia X intends to operate a mix fleet of 5 Airbus 330-300 and pairs of Airbus 350-900 planes initially out of Clark Airport says Romero, with the A330 all being bound to the Middle East and Australia while the A350-900 is intended for US destination particularly Los Angeles.

The Air Asia group intends to  ferry passengers between the two airports from NAIA to Clark and vice versa.

UAE Opens Clark, PAL Opens Abu Dhabi, CEB to Starts Dubai Next Week

2 October 2013

Abu Dhabi Airports welcomed yesterday evening the inaugural flight of Philippine Airlines (PAL), Asia’s first airline, arriving from Manila. The first flight marked the commencement ofa five-times weekly service between Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and Manila.PAL will fly to Abu Dhabi five times a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday), departing Manila at 4:25 PM and arriving at 9:45 PM.  The returning flight leaves Abu Dhabi at 11:15 PM and arrives in Manila at 12:25 PM the next day.
Dubai-based Emirates Airlines flew for the first time at 4:40 a.m. at DXB this morning as EK 338, bound for Manila-Clark in the Philippines with Boeing 777-200LR aircraft arriving at 4:40 p.m. The return flight EK 339 departs at 6:35 p.m. The airline which flies daily to Clark will be Emirates’ 135th destination worldwide and second gateway into the Philippines after Manila. The airport is located 80 kilometres north of the capital, in Angeles City. With a catchment area of 17 million people, the region is poised to become a new tourism and commercial hub. The flight will also help connect the sizeable Filipino communities around the world.
Cebu Pacific inaugural flight arriving Dubai on October 7. Dubai is the first long haul destination for the airline. (Updated)