United Schedules SFO Launch

31 January 2015

Chicago-based United Airlines disclosed on Friday that they will soon fly across the Pacific to San Francisco from Manila says United Airlines vice president for sales in Atlantic and Pacific Jake Cefolia.

Cefolia said United will be using the world's newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner for the route as the airline prepares to grow its market share to North America.

United Airlines has ordered 26 aircraft to bridge thinner routes in the Pacific and South America. It has already flown to Melbourne from Los Angeles, the longest Dreamliner route in the world to date. It intends to open the route this year.

The airline opened six new routes in the Asia Pacific region last year, adding Taipei-San Francisco, Haneda-San Francisco, and Chengdu-San Francisco. It also opened Incheon-Guam, Melbourne-Los Angeles, and Shanghai-Guam.

“There is a tremendous amount of demand, sometimes it seems insatiable demand in Manila. It is the highest volume market between Asia and the US. However, it is also an incredibly price sensitive market,” he said.

United's 787-900s will boast 252 seats, including 48 lie-flat business-class seats, 88 Economy Plus seats and 116 in standard economy.

The airline currently flies to Guam and Koror in Palau 13 times a week using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

United Airlines started flying to the Philippines in 1985 flying to San Francisco via Tokyo Narita. It bought PAN AM rights to fly to the country and continued its operation which started flying to Manila in 1942.

Died With Boots On

29 January 2015

In an unprecendented move, three C-130s of the Philippine Air Force landed one after the other at Villamor Air Base yesterday morning.

The air force planes carried 42 bodies of Police Elite Special Action Forces (SAF) who were killed in a bungled police operation involving high-profile terrorists Sunday in Maguindanao. The flag-draped metal caskets bearing the fallen members of the Special Action Force (SAF) were carried out by groups of waiting comrades.

PAF's Newest Bird

C-295M Flies

27 January 2015

PAF C-195M flight testing. See our complete reports here

PAL Confirms Order Deferral

22 January 2015

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has confirmed that it is delaying delivery of 38 brand new Airbus A321s as part of its business strategy in order to manage cost.

PAL President Jaime Bautista said in a press briefing this moring that Airbus SAS have agreed to defer by four years – to 2024 from the original date of 2020 -- the delivery of its remaining aircraft order without penalty and interest.

“We are working with Airbus on the deferment of the orders. This year, we should take delivery of 10, but we are working on a delivery of only 5” Bautista said after arriving from London.

PAL will receive five Airbus 321, aircraft two of which will be delivered in March, two in April and one in June.

The other 5 A321 scheduled for delivery in 2015 is deferred until 2016.

The remaining newer variant A321NEO aircraft will be delivered starting 2017 until 2024. They will be powered by Pratt and Whitney engines.

“All our remaining orders are A321s which we can use for domestic and regional” Bautista added. PAL also has “no plans of adding more Europe routes,” Mr. Bautista said, pointing out that “competition is stiff there.”

Bautista is also mum on new long haul orders.

Finally, 5J Says Sorry, Pays Fine

Our service was found wanting

21 January 2015

Cebu Pacific Chief Executive Officer Lance Gokongwei apologized at Congress Wednesday for the flight delays and cancellations during the Yuletide travel rush.

Appearing at the hearing of the House of Representatives’ transportation committee, Gokongwei admitted that the chaos was caused by the lack of aircraft and personnel to men Cebu Pacific’s check-in counters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) imposed a P52-million fine against the airline for operational lapses and a disproportionate number of delayed and canceled flights over the Christmas holidays.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla, said Cebu Pacific was not the only airline penalized for violations of the CAB law last year. Arcilla noted that PAL Express was also fined P8 million while Emirates was fined P1.8 million last year for selling tickets without CAB approval.

Arcilla however admits that this is the biggest penalty handed by the regulator to the airline.

"We are waiting the final legal advice as to whatever basis of amount discussed, because of the serious precedence it may set for other issues in the previous past, as it affects the entire industry...

"But certainly we do agree there should be a penalty in place," Gokongwei said.

In Safe Hands

21 January 2015

By Florante S. Solmerin 

The country’s top security officials considered the Papal visit a security “nightmare” but for the skipper of “Shepherd One” flying the Vicar of Christ in the middle of a storm it was more challenging.

And who is the fellow who asked Pope Francis to cut short his visit with the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City and Palo town in Leyte?

Captain Roland Narciso, chief pilot of PAL A320 PR 8010, smiles after
safely bringing Pope Francis back to Manila amid a storm in Eastern
Visayas. Armed Forces of the Philippines
Captain Roland Narciso, 41, a devout Catholic, is also “mistahs” or classmates at the Philippine Military Acaddemy (PMA) “Marilag” Class 1995 and endearingly  Insong, to those close to him.

As a veteran pilot, he had gained valuable experiences of flying during diffuclt situations.

“The weather was still within the limits of the Airbus A320. This was our conclusion after thoroughly considering the cloud ceiling, wind condition, and visibility,” Narciso said.

Weather updates said tropical storm “Amang” was approaching Leyte, the same place that was devastated by super typhoon Yolanda about 14 months ago.

The organizers of the Papal visit and even the pontiff himself have decided to make a go for the meeting with the people and a mass.

Narciso felt honored and privileged upon learning that his plane, the PR 8010, was chosen for the Papal flight to Tacloban City. After his 14-year career as a commercial pilot, he was now a Chief Pilot.

Narciso said that his cadet training in the Philippine Military Academy and in the PAF Flying School mattered most during that flight.

“I learned in PMA how to remain cool under pressure. I carried this trait when I began flying military aircrafts upon joining the Philippine Air Force and later, the Philippine Airlines,” he said.

Narciso also consulted his fellow pilots including PMA upperclassman, Capt. George Alvarez, about a proposal to leave at 1 p.m., four hours earlier than the scheduled departure.

“We knew it was a painful decision but we do not want to endanger our passengers, especially the Pope,” he said.

When the plane safely landed at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport 8:30 a.m., everyone on board was applauding, including the tens of thousands of rain-soaked pilgrims who waited for the beloved leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

He was elated that the organizers and the Pope agreed to cut short his trip and granted their proposal to depart by 1 p.m.

Shepherd One made a smooth touch down in Manila at around 2:30 p.m., to the delight of the well-wishers who waited for him at Villamor Air Base.

“I sighed in relief upon landing safely, seeing the crowds of people which awaited Pope Francis. I got another shock of my life seeing the Pope entering the cockpit to congratulate us,” Narciso said.

Captain Antonio Salgado, 42, Class Baron of PMA 1995 along with Lt. Col Marlowe Patria, another classmate, who is deputy of the AFP Public Affairs Office joined in saluting Insong.

Xiamen Air Flies Manila

20 January 2015

China Southern subsidiary Xiamen Airlines (XCA) will fly daily flights to Manila beginning February 8, 2015 using Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Flight MF819 will depart Xiamen daily at 6:20pm, arriving in Manila at 8:20pm. The return flight, MF820, will depart Manila at 9:20pm, and arrive back in Xiamen at 11:20pm.

The Fujian-based airline will also have direct flights covering Quanzhou-Manila whose schedules would be announce soon.

Xiamen air will become the fourth airline to operate Manila to Xiamen route which is currently served by three other carriers Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and China Southern Airlines.

Jet Hit By Typhoon

18 January 2015

A 19-seater Bombadier Global 5000 Express jet (RP-C9363) carrying 16 persons on board swerved the runway Saturday upon takeoff and likely incurred substantial damage as it was hit by very strong crosswind brought by typhoon Amang (Mekkhala) at Tacloban airport shortly after 1 p.m.

The Bombardier aircraft owned by San Miguel Corporation was operated by Challenger Aero as charter flight for government officials overseeing the Pope activities in Tacloban City.

No one was reported hurt.

Shepherd Arrives


Labor group blames Cebu Pac job scheme

14 January 2015

By Alena Mae S. Flores and Vito Barcelo

A labor group blamed job contracting for Cebu Pacific Air’s 20 flight cancellations and 288 delayed flights in Manila from Dec. 24 to 26 last year even as the company said legal options are being weighed following the decision of the Civil Aeronautics Board to impose a P52-million fine.

“We have received CAB Resolution No. 4 (BM 01-01-12-2015), and are currently in the process of reviewing the document, and its attendant legal ramifications,” the firm said in a statement on Wednesday. “We note that there may be some matters of fact requiring clarification, and are evaluating all our options.”

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Associated Labor Unions blamed outsourcing and hiring of contractual workers for the breakdown of Cebu Pacific’s service.

“The damage could have been greatly minimized--financially and reliability--if the situation was handled and managed by regular workers,” Gerard Seno, TUCP-ALU executive vice president, said in a statement.

“There is a big difference between the quality of work rendered by a regular worker than an outsourced and contractual one.”

The CAB made its ruling after Monday’s hearing attended by Cebu Pacific representatives, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 manager Octavio Lina, and Manila International Airport assistant general manager Ricardo Medalla.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla was quoted as saying that the fine would to national treasury despite clamor from displaced passengers to be compensated.

He said the Passenger Bill of Rights stated as recourse only rebooking, reimbursement and endorsement to another carrier.

According to Arcilla, the airline firm has cited air traffic congestion and terminal infrastructure deficiencies as contributory factors.

“The board therefore issued a strong reprimand and imposed a fine against Cebu Pacific in the amount of P52.110 million,” he said.

The board also required Cebu Pacific to establish and maintain appropriate service standards for all employees, organic and outsourced, especially in manning the check-in counters.

“The fine is based on the finding by the board that Cebu Pacific’s operational lapses and passenger manhandling constitute a breach of the basic condition of its certificate of public convenience and necessity, i.e. to provide proper, suitable, convenient, safe, adequate and reliable air transportation services,” Arcilla said.

Cebu Pacific Fined 52 Million

12 January 2015

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has slapped Cebu Pacific a ₱52 million fine over multiple flight cancellations and delays during the Christmas holidays affecting more than ten thousand passengers. The airline said they will contest the ruling and is seeking reconsideration from the Board.

Clark's State of the Art ARFF

12 January 2015

Aerospace addressing gaps in industry capability

11 January 2015

By Alden M. Monzon

THE PHILIPPINE aerospace industry is projecting revenue of at least $779 million this year, excluding any gains from the maintenance, repair and operations segment, with new jobs generated amounting to 5,600, though uneven capabilities within the industry represent a bottleneck to more rapid expansion.

The Aerospace Industries Association of the Philippines (AIAP) also issued a long-term projection of $10 billion in revenue by 2022 on the back of 5% per annum growth starting 2018.

AIAP president John T. Lee said however that one of the major challenges that the local industry lies in production and process capability. “We still lack some certifications, for example from NADCAP (the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program) as well as from other countries,” he said.

Mr. Lee said the industry is seeking to address some of the gaps in capability, citing in particular the ability to work with the latest surface treatment and coating technology to control corrosion in aircraft.

“We have some companies engaged in surface treatment but they are not certified to do some processes yet, Mr. Lee said, noting that performing to a recognized standard is one of the most immediate concerns for the industry.

According to the Boeing Market Outlook 2014-2032, the Asia-Pacific Region will have the highest demand for new airplanes in the world, amounting to $2 trillion during the period -- a situation that the local industry needs to take advantage of, according to the AIAP.

Expensive machine tools and other equipment have been cited as one of the barriers to industry expansion, with Mr. Lee estimating that a machining operation properly outfitted for the aircraft industry would be saddled with initial capital investments of between $1 million and $10 million.

Other challenges include supply chain integration, training and education, and improvement of industry-centered government programs and incentives for potential investors.

The IAP is pushing for the classification of Aerospace Manufacturing as a pioneering industry entitled to tax holidays of up to 6-8 years under the national government’s Investment Priority Plan, in order to attract more players.

Facts Don't Lie

Last Christmas

6 January  2015

The Claims of Cebu Pacific
  • Cause for Delay is airport congestion beyond airline control
  • Bad weather causing cancellation of flights
  • Space constraint at Terminal 3
  • Absent employees not our fault

The Evidence
Transport Department has called Cebu Pacific's line of reasoning to its passengers last christmas "appalling" and vows sanctions against the erring airline likely.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya made the claims citing preliminary investigation report from the investigating panel composed of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA.

Abaya said the penalties which could be imposed on the airline range from fines and suspension, to a revocation of its franchise.

Juan Lorenzo Tañada, vice president for corporate affairs of Cebu Pacific said on December 25 that a bad mix of air traffic congestion and inclement weather during the holiday rush triggered chaos at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

Tañada said that apart from the high number of passengers heading to the provinces for Christmas, the airline had to adjust flight schedules due to the cancellation of several flights because of bad weather.

Airport Operator Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) disputes Cebu Pacific (CEB) claims stating the problem is not the airport but the airline particularly not taking off and arriving at their designated time.

Airport Manager Angel Honrado did not accept Cebu Pacific’s excuse, noting that 70 percent of the canceled and delayed flights from December 24 to 26 involved its planes.

“If the problem was air traffic congestion, how come it was just them that experienced it?” Honrado exclaimed.

Investigations disclosed that on the early morning of December 24 alone, six CEB flights already arrived late when there was no traffic at the airport. Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has managed to flew all its plane on schedule, and registered delays only during peak hours.

Philippine Airlines and AirAsia which also operates domestic flights had smooth operations during the holiday season despite large influx of passengers.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) on its part was alarmed by the “massive dislocation of passengers” never seen in the past. Passengers hoping to fly out of Manila were not processed on time and many missed their flights due to unmanned Cebu Pacific counters.

CAB Executive Director Carmilo Arcila said passengers were at the airport because they were promised by the airline to be flown on that day yet was not able to catch flight home.

Many passengers came to the airport 6-12 hours in advance and stood in long queues for more than three hours only to be told that they could not board their planes.

Arcila said that is totally unacceptable airline behavior.

The airline blamed the massive cueing at the terminal due to the movement of five international airlines to Terminal 3 limiting the number of counters Cebu Pacific could use.

Complaining passengers however said that even if all the counters were given to them there will still be massive cues because there were only few counters manned by Cebu Pacific personnels.

One passenger remarked in the report that while Cebu Pacific counters were chaotic, none was observed in the counters assigned for PAL Express.

CAB personnel reported on December 25 that there were only two check-in counters of Cebu Pacific that were opened until the airline was told by MIAA to open more counters raising its number to 32 by noon time. But delay and another round of cancellations was already spiralling on that day.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) also dismisses weather claims of the airline as only three airports were affected and closed by the agency due to bad weather.

CAAP said that other domestic airlines were able to service the airport before it was closed and immediately after the airport was re-opened but Cebu Pacific cancelled its flight There.

The report also said that had Cebu Pacific flew their flights on time, they could have avoided airport closures.

The report said that flight cancellations due to force majeure is proper only when the airport is closed by aviation authorities due to bad weather, and not those declared by airline to be so.

CAAP also said there were no complaints of over-booking over at PAL and AirAsia which was the reason of swelling of CEB passengers at terminal 3.

According to the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, passengers have the right to accurate information, right to receive the full value of the service purchased, and right to compensation. In this cases however none was provided by Cebu Pacific for delays and cancellations other than rebooking and waiving fees to it.

Philippines Bags Airbus Facility

Puts Up Training Facility Hub For Asia Pacific Region

6 January 2015

France-based Aircraft manufacturer Airbus S.A.S. is setting up a Training Facility in the Philippines for the Asia Pacific Region, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced over the weekend.

CAAP Director-General William Hotchkiss III said the aircraft builder is making the Philippines its hub for the Asia Pacific region where it will put up training facility for flight, cabin, structure and maintenance of all Airbus built aircraft.

"The setting of training center is seen as a major initiative supporting the CAAP’s current efforts to support the type rating training of the growing aviation industry," Hotchkiss said.

The facility will be Airbus sixth training center in the world. The aircraft manufacturer has its training centers in Toulouse, Miami, Hamburg, Beijing, and Bangalore.

According to Airbus SAS representative Thierry Martin, Airbus is building a training Center in Manila that will initially house a brand new Airbus A330/A340 and two A320 full flight simulators.

The facility is slated for completion this year.

5J Bound To Rome, PR Takes Milan

4 January 2015

After clearing the European Union aviation ban, Cebu Pacific intends to fly to Rome in Italy, and is seeking approval from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to fly seven times a week to the Roman Catholic heartland possibly via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The airline is seeking reallocation of 7 of the 14 unutilized flight entitlements to Italy," Alex Reyes, general manager of Cebu Pacific’s Long Haul Division said.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) held all the 14 flight entitlements to Italy while Alitalia secured all flights going to the Philippines.

The Philippines and Italy, amended its Air Services Agreement (ASA) on Sept. 5, 2013 allocating 4,800 seats weekly for either side on all air routes between the two countries.

Cebu Pacific said that Philippine Airlines is not currently utilizing the slots and it would only be fair that they should also be awarded half of the entitlements as they also are flag carriers of the Philippines recently authorized to fly to Europe last year.

Philippine Airlines is expected to contest the application as it has similar plans to fly Italy via Rome and Milan where majority of the overseas Filipinos (OFW) are residing.

Both airline plans to fly the A330-300, either directly or via an intermediate point, most likely Dubai, and Tel Aviv where Philippine carriers has fifth freedom traffic rights.

Italy hosts the largest population of Overseas Filipino Workers in Western Europe, according to Department of Foreign Affairs statistics. The Italian Ministry of Interior reports that there are 155,945 registered or documented Filipinos with valid permits to stay and work in the country in 2012. An estimated 10 percent of the Filipinos are undocumented, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics. According to Italian government statistics, Filipinos are concentrated in the cities of Milan and Rome and are substantially using air services of gulf carriers to return to the Philippines.

The Philippines entered its first air service agreement with Italy in 1969 allowing each airline to mount one direct flight a week. PAL has been using Rome on its way to London since 1976 until 1996 when PAL flew directly to Heathrow.

Clark Builds $175 M LCC Terminal

3 January 2015

The Transport Department (DOTC) is building the $175 million budget terminal in Clark International Airport (CIA) this year to address the growing number of budget travellers.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the P7.2-billion budget terminal  will be done in phases as the design prepared by the French consultant Aeroport de Paris (APT) was too huge for the current market and way “too big” for the actual demand.

The bidding for the first phase of the project is scheduled this year and is slated for completion in 2016 with terminal capacity at 4 million passengers per annum.
The existing passenger terminal building (PTB) boasting with two gate bridges previously has capacity of 2.5 million passenger yearly before expansion works began increasing annual passenger throughput to 4 million. The full service PTB expansion project was completed last May and has capacity of 7.5 million per annum.

PTB's capacity increased in size from 11,439 square meters to 19,799 square meters, with check-in counters tripling from 13 to 34. Twelve departure counters and five arrival counters have also been added to the terminal together with eight entry points and three customs stations.

Airlines currently operating at CIA include Air Asia Zest, Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Dragon Air, Jin Air, Qatar Airways, Tiger Air.

Based on the original APT designs, the LCC terminal will boost CIA’s capacity to 24 million passengers per year. Clark International Airport registered 1.6 million passengers in 2013.

Sangley Airport Groundwork Set For 2016

2 January 2015

Sangley International Airport is expected to take shape as early as 2016 when the government bids the first phase of the Mega Manila Airport Gateway Project.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the government will begin land reclamation needed to construct the four-runway hub in Sangley which will become the landmark project of the Aquino administration. 

According to Abaya, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is completing the pre-feasibility study on the reclamation component of the project which covers also the non-aviation part.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is submitting the complete feasibility study in June 2015 for approval by the Philippine government after which the Japanese government will finance the cost of construction slated for completion by 2025.

“Hopefully we can bring it up to NEDA by July for approval,” Abaya said.

The $10 billion airport project would be able to handle about 55 million passengers annually when it opens to the public in 2025 and can eventually be expanded to handle 130 million passengers yearly by 2050, according to JICA specifications.

According to a 2011 JICA study, annual passenger forecasts for the Greater Capital Region will rise from 49.8-million in 2020 to 75-million in 2030, shooting up to 106.7-million in 2040. Currently, NAIA handled 32.865 million passengers in 2013.