Happy Birthday PAL

From Airbus to Airbus

18 March 2015

Today marks the date Philippine Airlines (PAL) made history as if flew the skies of the Philippines becoming the first country in Asia to embrace civil aviation. It is Asia’s oldest scheduled carrier still in operation. It is also the oldest airline in Asia still operating under its current name.

And while Philippine Airlines fly the modern Airbus jets in the 21st Century, the airline first flew on a single prop plane also called Airbus. The single engine aircraft was built by Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware.

Philippine Airlines predecessor was born on December 3, 1930. The name of the airline was Philippine Aerial Taxi Company (PATCO) established by transportation magnate Emmanuel M. Bachrach of the Bachrach Motor Company and beer magnate Andres Soriano of San Miguel Corporation.

Its first passenger flight was made on March 18, 1931 from Manila to Iloilo. The company grew to operate a pair of Bellanca C-27C Airbus fleet under the supervision of William R. Bradford which crisscrosses the Philippine Islands as it made ports of call to Iloilo, Baguio, Masbate, and Paracale from Manila.

In 1932 it was awarded contract by the Insular government of the United States of America to carry mail between Manila and Baguio, and in November 14, 1935 was granted Legislative Franchise by the Philippine Legislature to operate an airline business after the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth.

The Russian-born Bachrach who is the first American Jew to permanently settled in the Philippines grew his airline by introducing hydroplanes until he died on September 29, 1937. PATCO stopped operations in 1939 due to financial difficulty brought by stiff competition and better service offered by another airline, Iloilo-Negros Air Express Company (INAEC) of sugar magnate Eugenio Lopez which flew on February 1, 1933 after it was founded in 1932.

As a consequence of its cessation of operations in 1939, Bachrach’s majority share in PATCO was bought by Andres Soriano upon the advice of General Douglas McArthur. Due to the delay in the Settlement of Bachrach's estate which included PATCO, Soriano established another airline upon the advice of his personal pilot, Paul Ivring Gunn, on February 26, 1941.

Upon completion of the 1939 Sale of the majority stocks owned by Bachrach in March 13, 1941, Soriano changed the name of his airline to Philippine Air Lines with PAL as the surviving entity.

PAL restarted service on March 15, 1941 with a single Beech Model 18 NPC-54 aircraft, which started its daily services between Manila (from Nielson Field) and Baguioa co-piloted by Gunn assistant, Emil Sylvan Scott.

Ownership again changed hand in September of that year when majority shares of Philippine Airlines was bought by the Philippine government making it the first government owned airline in Asia.

Half a century later, the airline morphed again into another company on January 1, 1992 reborn to become Philippine Airlines, with majority shares previously owned by the Philippine Government sold to PR Holdings controlled by tobacco magnate Lucio Tan.

Philippine Airlines became the first privately owned airline in Asia in 1992 and the sole private legacy airline in Asia Pacific up to this date.

1 comment:

  1. >and the sole private legacy airline in Asia Pacific up to this date.
    I'm pretty sure Korean Air and Japan Airlines are also fully owned. Not sure about China Airlines. However, I think it is true that PAL is the only fully private flag carrier in ASEAN (Thai, MAS, Garuda, SG, Royal Brunei, Vietnam Airlines, and the rest are either fully or partially government owned).