Presidential No Fly Zone Rule Removed

29 July 2016

By Azer Parrocha


The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has issued directive suspending the special operations rule on the use of all Philippine airports by the Chief Executive upon directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Newly appointed CAAP Director General Capt. Antonio Buendia Jr. signed the Memorandum Order yesterday and addressed to all chiefs of facilities/facility in charge and airport managers telling them the procedure would no longer be implemented effective immediately.

The quasi-emergency procedure apply during take-offs and landings of Presidential flights.

PAL Takes Hajj Flight Again

28 July 2016

After almost ten years of hiatus service, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has agreed to ferry special flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to serve the travel needs of Muslims taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca on August 15 – 24, 2016 with mono-class Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

PAL President and COO Jaime J. Bautista said, “We are heeding the clamor of our Muslim brothers and sisters for a convenient link to a destination in the Middle East which will serve as their gateway to Mecca. PAL looks forward to be their official carrier as they fulfill this annual religious tradition.”

Special PAL flight to the KSA shall depart from Manila non-stop to Medina, from where pilgrims will travel to Mecca (KSA) , Islam’s holiest city. Return services will fly from Jeddah via Dubai to Manila.

NAIA Closed For Heavy Traffic

18 July 2016

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was closed for Heavy traffic Monday morning causing 28 flight diversions to Clark, most of them international and domestic flights.

Mandatory closure was made after Eva Air's B747-400's was hit by asphalt debris during landing from the asphalt overlay disintegration in the western portion of Runway 06/24 causing fractures to its flaps.

The runway Foreign Object Debris (FOD) caused damaged to the flap of the aircraft which prompted the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) to close runway 06/24 to avoid similar accidents and to schedule emergency repairs at the affected runway. Similar conditions prompted the closure of Tacloban airport a year ago. Runway debris has caused the crash of Air France's Concorde.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said the CAAP issued the order to temporary close runway 06/24 for safety reasons and has accordingly issued NOTAMS to airlines. Others airlines that have not taken off yet were put on hold at airport of origin until further notice.

Runway 13/31 remains open for turboprops and A320/A321 departures and landing, but NAIA says that passenger should expect delays because the existing runway cannot accommodate all existing aircraft scheduled to depart and arrive on that time. Some of domestic turboprop and jet flights were likewise diverted to Clark on account of fuel starvation due to long holding patterns.

Initial investigations revealed poor asphalt mix by the contractor which resulted to less bearing capacity and bonding disintegration aggravated by water seepage brought by heavier load of tyres of heavy aircraft such as the Airbus A330 and A340's, and Boeing B777 and B747s landing at the airports main runway. The disintegrated asphalt becomes FOD that was blown away by thrust of big jet engines before hitting a Boeing 747 of Eva Air. The dis-integrated asphalt caused a huge five-inch deep hole with an area one meter wide, and nine meters long, according to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) sources.

The airport authority said the runway was closed to traffic at 8:30 a.m. pending emergency repairs and construction work that should measure about 4 meters by 19 meters.

Repair works is scheduled to be completed at 10:00 p.m. but runway is expected to be open after curing period about an hour later or between 11-12 midnight at the latest, depending on the progress of the repairs. Runway was opened at 10:45 p.m. with first departure by PAL A321 destined for Davao made at 11:07 p.m. Eva Air flaps was repaired overnight by Lufthansa Teknik (LTP) and has since left Manila this morning.

Irate passengers of diverted flights make their way from Clark International Airport to Manila as airlines opted to disembark passengers. All diverted flights have returned to Manila early Tuesday morning. Diverted flights include those from PAL Express, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia Zest, Cebu Pacific, Air Juan, Asian Aerospace, Emirates, Saudia Airlines, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airline and Oman Air.

PAL Bids Inflight Duty Free

14 July 2016

By Doug Newhouse

Rustica (Resty) Tizon, Inflight Duty Free Director,
 Philippine Airlines.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) has narrowed down its short list of companies interested in bidding for its inflight duty free contract to three companies, including the incumbent operator the Inflight Sales Group (ISG), DFASS and the Regent Travel Retail Group, which currently partners with Duty Free Philippines’ ground shops.

The airline has also amended the concession length from three to five years with the inclusion of a two-year extension, according to Resty Tizon, Inflight Duty Free Director.

The final submission date for offers is Friday 15 July this week, with each company scheduled to give ‘a walkthrough presentation’ next week.

Tizon adds that following this process, the Philippine Airlines evaluation panel will make its decision and an award, with the next contract perod scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

PAL Opens Bidding For J Class Upgrades

14 July 2016

Philippine Airlines (PAL) unveiled Tuesday a new flight service that allows passengers to bid for a seat upgrade from Economy to Business Class.

The airline launched myPAL upgrade in partnership with technology service provider Plusgrade. According to the program, eligible economy class passengers will receive an e-mail inviting them to submit their bids for a business class upgrade up to 36 hours prior to their flight departure.

A pre-determined minimum and maximum bid price is defined by destination and passengers can choose within the defined range how much they are willing to pay for an upgrade. Winning bidders will be notified of their successful upgrades through email at least 24 hours before their flight.

myPAL Upgrade passengers will enjoy the same benefits as full-paying business class travelers, including priority check-in and boarding, additional baggage allowance, lounge access, premium amenity kits, menu choices, on-demand in-flight entertainment and the features of a business class seat.

PAL also offers business class mileage accrual to upgraded passengers for travels until August 31, 2016.

Except for the Middle East where the airline flies all economy flights, upgrade bidding program applies to select domestic routes, and international flights such as Auckland, Bali, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Cairns, Canton, Darwin, Fukuoka, Guam, Haneda, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta, London, Los Angeles, Macau, Melbourne, Nagoya, Narita, New York, Osaka (Kansai), Port Moresby, Saigon, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Toronto, Vancouver and Quanzhou (Jinjiang).

Economy Class

PR1 Like No Other

8 July 2016

The highest official of the land travels in style like no other.

Economy Class. Premium that is.

Like most Filipinos, President Rodrigo Duterte for the first time, as Chief Executive of the country, travels from Manila to Davao City in an ordinary commercial flight of Philippine Airlines (PAL) Thursday night. Duterte took a premium economy seat onboard Philippine Airlines A321-200 Flight PR 1825, which departed Manila at 9 p.m.

photo by King Rodriguez

US E/A-18G Jammers Send To PI Ahead of PCA Ruling

7 July 2016

The United States of America (US) has send to the Philippines four highly advanced electronic attack jammer E/A-18G Growler jets ahead of the ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the South China Sea claim of China filed by the Philippines for breach of its sovereign territory.

The Philippines brought China to court after its 2012 seizure of Scarborough Shoal, which is located within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Decision is expected for release on July 12, 2016. Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea, setting up conflicts with its neighbors Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Four U.S. Navy airborne electronic attack planes complemented by 120 support personnel was sent to Clark Airbase last month in a bid to counter Chinese aerial aggression in the South China Sea. The contingent belongs to the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138 which is a land-base expeditionary squadron based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.

The dispatch of electronic warfare planes was made after the U.S. Navy reported difficulties in collecting data in the past months due to employment of Chinese electronic countermeasures. It is expected to support operations of the carrier-based squadrons in the South China Sea.

A typical Electronic Attack Squadron consists of five Boeing EA-18G Growlers. Boeing has argued however that Growler’s effectiveness is enhanced when operating in a three-ship flight versus the single or section operations, thus five plus four, for an effective 3-flight ratios.

China has been seen to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea after the July 12 PCA decision and warned the US of 'military confrontation' should it intrude in the South China Sea which it claims it owns.

Tensions are escalating in advance of the decision, with China beginning a naval exercise near the Paracel Islands. Meanwhile, U.S. Navy destroyers Spruance, Momsen and Stethem together with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group are already pre-positioning themselves in the South China sea ahead of the decision.

Meanwhile, the second carrier group John C. Stennis which spent the bulk of its planned seven-month deployment patrolling the South China Sea before leaving June 5 is sailing nearby in the Philippine Sea, while the third carrier is spotted in Japan.

“We won't discuss tactics, specific locations in the South China Sea or future operations anywhere in the region due to operational security,” says Lt. Clint Ramsden, spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Last month, these two aircraft carriers conducted naval exercises in the Philippine Sea simulating air defense drills, sea surveillance, and long range strikes.

On Wednesday, the US Navy had seven ships in the region including Reagan, two cruisers, four destroyers, and undisclosed Virginia-class submarine.

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet however downplayed the purpose of EA-18G aircraft deployed in Clark for public consumption saying it was there to train the Philippine Air Force which recently acquired two FA-50 trainer jets from South Korea and help patrol Philippine airspace and sea lanes.

The Boeing EA-18G Growler is a variant of the combat-proven F/A-18F Super Hornet which is the most advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform in the world that provides tactical jamming and electronic protection to U.S. military forces and allies around the world.

The fighter jet purpose is to suppress ground defenses for air strikes, and jams enemy radar while the aircrew eliminates targets on ground or on air. It also has its own arsenal of air-to-air missiles in order to defend itself against attack.

Earlier, five A-10 Thunderbolt ground-attack jets, (better known as the warthog), three H-60G Pavehawk helicopters and one MC-130H Combat Talon special forces infiltration aircraft remained behind at Clark Air Base, along with nearly 300 crew members After a ten-day joint U.S.-Philippine drill that ended in April. In addition, a pair of EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft is also stationed in Clark for routine mission in international airspace over the South China Sea.

According to noted military analysts Andreas Rupprecht, the presence of four EA-18Gs could theoretically limit the operations of the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) and Navy (PLANAF) in the South China Sea as the Growlers could jam the Chinese radars on the Spratly, Paracel, Pratas and the rest of the islands, including those that have been artificially created, reducing Beijing's ability to establish an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) in the South China Sea should result of the Hague arbitration be not in its favor.

As to why the A-10 instead of the F-18 attack aircraft which is meant for dogfights with Chinese fighters, Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for US Air Forces Pacific, said that the A-10 has excellent loiter capabilities and maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude than F-16 or F-18 that are “necessary for conducting the air contingent’s air and maritime domain awareness and personnel recovery missions. In essence, it is the most efficient combat aircraft for surveillance and intelligence gathering. Fighter support is however provided by the aircraft carrier should the need arises.

5J Expands CEB

7 July 2016

Adds Ormoc, Calbayog and Roxas

Low Cost carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) is expanding its footprint in the Visayas as it adds three more destination to its domestic network from Cebu.

Starting Nov.19,2016, Ormoc, Calbayog and Roxas City will be added to its Cebu hub with regular ATR72-600 service provided by CebGo, its turboprop subsidiary.

The airline will offer daily flights between Cebu and Ormoc and Cebu and Roxas City. It will also fly four times a week—Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday—between Cebu and Calbayog.

Cebu Pacific operates flights in six regional hubs nationwide — Manila, Davao, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo, and Zamboanga. The airline subsidiary expects delivery of two ATR 72-600 aircraft out of 16 aircraft on Order between 2016 and 2021.

Thai Smile Flies CEB

6 July 2016

Thai Smile Airways will begin daily flight services between Cebu and Bangkok beginning this October. The Thai Airways subsidiary, will fly thrice weekly in the morning and four times weekly in the afternoon using Airbus 320 with 162 dual class seats (12 business class and 150 economy class).

Mr. Charamporn Jotikasthira, THAI President, said the airline will inaugurate three direct flights per week to Tehran in October 1 followed by Cebu on the last week. At the same time, it will add flight services to Yangon, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur on the same week.

The airline already started operating daily A320 flights to Chongqing, China in July 1, and from July 16, it will fly daily flights to Penang, Malaysia.

The airline operates nine domestic destinations from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Phuket, Surat Thani, Hat Yai, and Narathiwat.

CAA Introduces New Team

5 July 2016

By Richie Lopa

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has a new director general, Antonio Buendia, who has replaced William K. Hotchkiss III.

Buendia is the fifth CAAP director general since the agency was created in 2008, replacing the Air Transportation Office.

Transportation Underscretary for Aviation and Airports Roberto Lim said joining Buendia are Jim Sydiongco, deputy director general for operations; Manuel Antonio Tamayo, deputy director general for administration; Donaldo A. Mendoza, assistant director general II, FSIS; Ma. Aurora Carandang-Gloria, head executive assistant; and Gil Macapagal, chief of staff.

Buendia has 43 years of civil aviation experience and is former president of Asian Spirit and the Philippine Aerospace Development Corp.

Sydiongco is a former vice president of Cebu Pacific and also was chief pilot for Philippine Airlines and senior safety supervisor of EVA Air.

Tamayo is former VP for operations of PAL and flew the Airbus A340. He was also lead pilot of the flight that took the Pope home to Rome.

Mendoza is a former Philippine Air Force pilot who flew the C130 transport. He is also rated for DC-9, B757, A319 and A320, and was Cebu Pacific director for quality assurance.

Gloria is the first commercial Filipino female pilot and the first to become captain of PAL.

Hotchkiss, who led CAAP for four years, said Buendia “knows what is needed to sustain and even to propel the industry forward and farther.”

Air New Zealand Defers Launch

Cites Regulatory Approval Delays

4 July 2016

Air New Zealand has announced that there will be delay on the proposed launch of its direct flight service between Auckland and Manila in the Philippines.

The airline had said that it is planning to launch direct service to Manila from December 2016 with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft thrice a week.

Air New Zealand said administrative delays has caused the airline to defer the launch of its direct service without elaborating further.

It is well known however that slot allocaton in Manila has been noted as the stumbling block for the airline to operate on their desired time schedule.