PAL Arrives London

Ducks Russian Airspace

4 November 2013
image courtesy of Catherine Leech
Philippine Airlines is officially back in Europe after 15 years of absence as it flies into London’s Heathrow Airport yesterday as PAL flight PR-720 using its latest Boeing 777-300ER acquisition.

The plane left Manila a little bit late at 7:55 for an unusual 15-hour flight instead of the usual 12 hours, but arrives at Heathrow at 2:50 pm London time (10:50pm –Manila) on schedule.

Beneath the celebration however is the flight plan gone wrong brought by government inefficiency on the part of the Russians causing PAL to rethink about opening Paris and Amsterdam at a much later date than what the airline hoped for this winter year as it re-scheduled inaugural plans to the summer of 2014.

PAL President Ramon S. Ang said at the inaugural flight has to leave Manila early because of the overflight dilemma over Russian airspace.

Also in the pipeline for 2014 are massive Europe invasion as it begins flights to Frankfurt, Rome, Madrid, Moscow and Istanbul. All the flights uses Russian Airspace heading towards Manila.

The Government of the Philippines was set to sit down with Russian counterparts supposedly second week of October to discuss amendments to Soviet era Air Services Agreements and overflight rights, which has on its clause payment of exorbitant Russian overflight fees over its airspace.

"We haven't secured the permit yet because they still have to meet" says Ang referring to the air talks with Russia.

The air talks was re-scheduled to the second week of November but the re-launch of PAL to London remained on schedule as it did fly its first revenue flight to Europe.

The Philippines has no Air Services Agreements with Commonwealth of Independent States countries like Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan which comprises the former Soviet Union, as these territories were part of USSR in the previous agreements. 

PAL opted to fly the longer route via Bangkok, Dubai and Istanbul airspace which is cheaper but longer against Russian overflights which is faster but has expensive fees.

The dilemma is compounded by the slots London Heathrow has allocated PAL which means that it has to arrive and depart on those windows of allowed time for full airport services or stay at the remote stand for servicing and guaranteed delays.

Arriving at London Heathrow also requires departure from Manila on time. 

The Russian Agreements will pave the way for shorter flight time to Europe. The proposed agreement would cut down the 15 hour flight to London to just 12 hour saving precious fuel and flight time. 

That also means Manila departure to around nine in the morning as the million US dollar slot allocations to Heathrow airport remain fixed, while PAL has the luxury to juggle its flights at Ninoy Aquino airport.


  1. Ah, kaya pala sa India - UAE - Saudi Arabia - Turkey area dumaan ang PR 720 sa halip na Russia na pinakamalapit na ruta.

  2. Pal is last choise to europe, direct or nos direct who cares so long the money is worth it and with pal it aint. Crampy seats on 777 in 343 config. Singapore qatar malaysia asiana all have good space and inflight products. And being in an alliance helps alot.

    1. No one cares about your comments.

  3. so, you have the right to choose :)