Family Matters

23 December 2017

It is no coincidence that no less than the President of the Philippines ordered the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong to assist thousand of Filipino Overseas Workers who were victims of fraud to fly home just to be with their families at this time of the year.

This story is no different.

It’s interesting how dreams take form – like when a sick loved one prompts a young man to become a doctor, or being with kids who haven’t had the chance to read and write inspires one to teach; as a child, to me it was pretty simple: I wanted to fly my parents home.

Today, after 16 Christmases apart – and unknown to my parents, I was actually part of the crew that was flying them home for Christmas.

It’s been a wonderful year for me - a year of dreams turning into reality, and this is definitely the cherry on top. Thank you, Philippine Airlines, for this amazing opportunity.

Have a merry Christmas, everyone.

Posted by Juan Paulo Fermin on Monday, December 18, 2017

There is more to this story from CNN Philippines.

It may not be a big deal for other cultures, or not too important to maybe understand, but for us Filipinos, this is what defines us. Family comes first wherever you are around the globe. It really doesn't matter whether you are the President, an OFW in Bermuda, or simply a household help in Hong Kong. As one radio station mildly put it, "Home is where your heart is."

Happy Holidays from us!

Range Issues Hound CEB

As Balikbayan Boxes Left in DXB

23 December 2017

Cebu Pacific was forced to unload passenger cargo in Dubai just to reach Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Thursday when the airline discovered more Balikayan boxes than usual were being carried back home at this time of the year.

Cebu Pacific Corporate Communications director Charo Logarta Lagamon has made apologies to affected passengers who said they will deliver the luggage of the OFWs on the next flight.

The airline did not notify the passengers of the off-loading but was quick to make apology informing their passengers immediately upon arrival of the complication.

CEB said the off-loading has more to do with the operational requirements of the Airbus A330-300 as they were overweight carrying 440 passengers with excess luggage.

"Humihingi kami ng paumanhin sa mga pasaherong hindi naisakay 'yung bagahe. Sana nakapag-iwan sila ng kanilang contact details para maihatid sa kanila 'yung bagahe," Lagamon said.

A fully loaded Airbus A330-300 is capable of reaching 4,000 nautical miles or within the range to fly Dubai-Manila but because of the operational safety requirements imposed on airlines has to carry less than the structural payload of around 50,000 kilograms.

PAL, CPA Ferries OFW Home

22 December 2017

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced that it would put on sale four hundred forty (440) more tickets for those left without a seat after Peya Travel, a company specializing in flights for domestic helpers, sold Cebu Pacific air tickets that were not guaranteed, leaving customers stranded.

The extra seats will be available for their Hong Kong to Manila flights on Friday and Saturday (December 22 and 23) as the airline send Boeing 777 to allow stranded Filipinos to fly home for Christmas and for flights returning on January 3 and 4 from Manila to Hong Kong.

Defrauded passengers have been told to head to Philippine Airline’s Tsim Sha Tsui ticket office in East Ocean Centre building to get their tickets. They will need to bring proof that they were affected by the scam to get the discount.

The Philippine consulate in Hong Kong has pegged the number of fraud victims to as many as 1,000 Overseas Filipino Workers who bought promo tickets for a return flight home for the duration of the holidays.

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved funding the cost of round trip travel of affected Filipinos through OWWA.

“Our kababayans in Hong Kong and other parts of the world have a very special place in President Duterte’s heart and it is just right that we make their Christmas wishes come true by doing what we can to bring them home,” DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

“Our hearts go out to our stranded countrymen. We hope this gesture will serve as a means to help a number of them come home to the Philippines in time for Christmas Day,” Philippine Airlines president and chief operating officer Jaime J. Bautista also said in a statement.

The airline said it will also upgrade A321 flights to A330 to accommodate more passengers coming home.

At the same time, Cathay Pacific Airways (CPA) has offered “distress fares” to affected OFWs for travel plans to the Philippines. The airline has offered discounted fares since Tuesday to fill any remaining seats.

It said it would add larger planes to make more seats available on its Manila route so more domestic helpers could make it home for Christmas.

Budget airline Cebu Pacific said it was reviewing its options to figure out how to make additional tickets available as all their flights are fully booked for the holidays. They however offered 50 complimentary return tickets for the affected Filipinos.

Meanwhile, TNG members, the cashless payments company popular with domestic helpers for remittances, will give away HK$500,000 to help those affected pay for new flights. Each helper will receive a maximum gift of HK$1,000 so that at least 500 people can benefit.

Most flights to the Philippines were reportedly sold out by the start of the week right before Christmas Day, prompting PAL and CPA to upgrade their planes to Manila to ferry distress workers who feared they would be unable to spend the festive period with their families.

NAIA's 25 Year Concession

And the Funding of New Mega Manila Airport 
as Conglomerate Offers O&M

21 December 2017

The country's premier gateway Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is proposed to have a new lease of life for 25 years as Consortium offers to expand terminal capacity to 50 million passengers per annum.

Aboitiz Infra Capital Incorporated, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, Alliance Global Group Incorporated, Filinvest Development Corporation, JG Summit Holdings Incorporated, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, and Asia's Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDC) have agreed to form NAIA Consortium to bag the contract of the massive P75 billion ($1.65 billion) Public-Private Partnership (PPP) auction to rehabilitate, operate, maintain and expand the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals.

The auction involves expansion, interconnection and modernization of Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 and building another terminal to accommodate 20 million more passengers in the next 10 years.

The consortium disclosed that they will work with foreign technical partners with proven world class track records and experiences in airport operations to improve, upgrade, and enhance the operational efficiencies of NAIA covering both landside and airside facilities.

The group said numerous foreign and local experts have highlighted the advantage of keeping an airport within city limits. Like other major cities in the world, experts recommend an in-city airport and another one outside the metropolis to complement it, like Manila and Clark.

Megacities that benefit from a two-airport set-up include New York (JFK and La Guardia), Tokyo (Haneda and Narita) and London (Gatwick and Heathrow) to name a few.

“The unsolicited proposal is intended to help accelerate the government’s ‘build build build’ program. Augmenting NAIA’s capacity is the quickest way to address airport congestion while other airports are being developed outside Metro Manila. This approach promotes greater economic benefit and sustainability for the whole country,” the consortium said.

In a separate disclosure, Philippine Airlines has manifested its intent to expand Terminal 2 and build another Terminal (Terminal 2 Annex) at the Nayong Pilipino Complex for its international operations with a price tag of P20.7 billion ($400 million).

Construction includes landside facilities and multi-level parking for 1,000 vehicles, a new cargo terminal and ground service facilities with the aim of consolidating its terminal operations under one roof.

PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said they already submitted the proposal to the Transport Department (DOTr) for evaluation and approval and once they get the go-signal they will start construction in 2018 to be finished by the end of 2020.

Bautista said the proposed 89,000 square-meter terminal could accommodate an additional 12 million passengers and will be connected to Terminal 2, which should help connectivity and ease congestion at the country's main international gateway.

PAL parent company is also part of the NAIA consortium through Asia's Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDC).

Naia PPP was conceived under the Aquino administration and the project was approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in September 14, 2016.

Under the project, the private partner will improve, upgrade and enhance the operational efficiency of all existing terminals of the NAIA covering both landside and airside (except air traffic services), to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and develop the main gateway airport of the Philippines, according to NEDA disclosures.

The government will make its announcement early next year relative to the NAIA consortium and PAL proposal

As of December 15, there are six other airport PPP projects under procurement for next year which include the five regional airports project: Development, Operations and Maintenance of Clark, Laguindingan, Bohol, Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod.

From the original plan, money that will be receive by the government for the O&M contract is expected to finance the further expansion of Sangley Airport, first to accommodate all turboprop and general aviation traffic that will be relocated out of NAIA, and second, to start building Manila's next international gateway.

The airport handled 39.5 million passengers in 2016 against its design capacity of 31 million passenger annually. NAIA is expected to breach 41 million in 2017.

San Diego Lights Up A350 Planning

Seattle and San Diego in the Works

20 December 2017

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is adding new nonstop destinations to and from United States over the next two years as it receives four Airbus A350-900s beginning second half of 2018.

PAL president Jaime Bautista said nonstop flight between Manila and New York will commence on the third quarter of 2018 followed by two other nonstop destinations by the fourth quarter.

The airline recently re-introduced nonstop flight between Manila and Toronto in December 16 after it accepted delivery of its ninth and tenth Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, all bound for trans-Pacific and London network.

“The Boeing will be used for our long-haul operations, a measure aimed primarily at improving the passenger travel experience and delivery on board,” says Bautista.

Bautista added that while "Boeing 777 is our flagship for long-haul flights, its range and operational capacity is not enough to service the eastern seaboard of North America. That would be possible only using the A350-900s.”

“From June, Airbus will begin A350-900s deliveries then we will receive one each in August, September and December,” Bautista said.

The airline is restricted to carry only about 300 passengers out of the 370 the triple seven can carry on its 14-15 hour 7500nm journey to Toronto and back to Manila due to range issues. 

Bautista also expressed that they can fly the Boeing nonstop between Manila and New York but with more payload hit as the latter is farther than Toronto (about 150nm more). Presently, PAL flies to New York with stops in Vancouver for a total journey time of 18-19 hours using the B777.

“These routes can be served well by the A350s reducing flight time by 3-4 hours just like what we've done in Toronto.” Bautista said.

“The arrival of the A350 aircraft will allow us to fly non-stop Manila-New York at full capacity. We should be able to carry the required number of passengers without doing a tech stop, particularly returning to Manila, which is against the wind,” Bautista added.

According to Bautista the rest of the A350 routes would also be in North America as they will soon be deployed to new destinations either in Seattle or San Diego around fourth quarter of next year aside from rotations to San Francisco.

PAL reiterates that its target market in the United States and Canada has always been the overseas Filipinos majority of whom can be found in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area that had the largest number of Filipino immigrants (787,422, or 46.7 percent of the Filipino-born population) in 2008, followed by Hawaii (99,659, or 5.9 percent), New Jersey (89,098, or 5.3 percent), New York (83,194, or 4.9 percent), Illinois (77,505, or 4.6 percent), and Texas (70,819, or 4.2 percent). US Census 2009. In 2016, the Greater Toronto Area host 337,760, Greater Calgary Area 175,130, and British Columbia 158,215 Filipinos. Calgary, Chicago, and Houston remains to have no direct flights to the Philippines as of 2017. 
Vancouver rights will likewise be extended to Chicago starting next year with B77w aircraft after de-coupling Toronto and New York, while Houston or Miami is planned to be added in 2019 as the airline receives two more frames of the A359.

The Philippines is only allowed 9 gateway points to the United States under the amended Air Services Agreement of 1995.

PAL currently flies 5 of them namely, Guam, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Chicago and Seattle are planned to be the 6th and 7th gateways while the 8th and 9th is tossed between Houston and Miami.

Should Seattle be preferred in the listing, San Diego will be linked via Honolulu under the same amended bilateral with B777 service. Hawaii is currently being served with A330-300 as an end point.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the airline's equity restructuring to improve its financial position as it lures foreign investor to the company.

PAL would use its additional paid-in capital of ₱13.64 billion to fully wipe off its deficit of ₱13.57 billion as of Dec. 31 last year and allow the airline to declare dividends and attract investors.

Earlier, PAL also secured SEC approval to reduce its authorized capital stock from ₱20 billion to ₱13 billion via a decrease in par value per share from ₱0.20 to ₱0.13 in preparation for the entry of new investors.

Bautista confirmed that PAL “is still in discussion” with possible interested parties.

Among the items under discussion with the foreign airline is the valuation and the investment vehicle or the corporate entity for the foreign investment. PAL Holdings is listed with a market capitalization of roughly 133.62 billion pesos ($2.7 billion) in 2016.

“It’s not easy to find foreign investors at this time, but we are talking to one group who have really given a sign of good interest. They also have investments in other airlines,” the airline President said without disclosing the company.

PAL may have to wait until next year before it closes a deal with a foreign strategic investor, depending on the operating environment and market conditions.

“Hopefully, we will get profitable again this year,” Bautista said, saying it may not be practical to take in a strategic partner if the operating environment is not good.

PAL reported a comprehensive net loss of ₱3,546 billion ($68.6 million) in January to September this year, mainly attributed to fuel hedge and foreign exchange losses. Last year, it earned ₱2,961 billion ($68.6 million) comprehensive net income reported in the same period last year.

Philippine Airlines is hoping to strike a deal with a foreign investor by next year to help the carrier finance wide-body fleet expansion, upgrade services and expand its network globally, particularly on serving two more destinations in Europe.

The airline has order options for four Airbus A330s and six A350s for 2021 delivery.

In 2018 the airline will also receive six A321Neos out 21 A321Neo orders up to 2024, and six Q400NG turboprops.

LTP Completes PAL A330 Modification

20 December 2017

Lufthansa Technik Philippines has performed comprehensive cabin modifications on eight A330-300 aircraft of Philippine Airlines. The previously all-economy class aircraft have been retrofitted with a new three-class concept comprising 309 seats.

The cabin modification campaign is part of a three-year base maintenance contract that Lufthansa Technik Philippines and Philippine Airlines signed this year.

"We are happy to support Philippine Airlines in becoming a five-star airline."says Rosario Esquillo, Key Account Manager at Lufthansa Technik Philippines.

The new cabin concept for Philippine Airlines consists of Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class, which have all been reconfigured with new seats, on-demand audio and video as well as onboard WiFi and Internet connectivity. The new business class is equipped with Thomson Aero Seating's Vantage XL seat.

The re-configured fleet will be flown to Japan, Seoul, Honolulu, Sydney, Melbourne, Bangkok, Hongkong and Singapore.

GMR to Build Clark Low Cost PTB

19 December 2017

Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure has bagged the contract to design, engineer and construct the new Passenger Terminal building (PTB) at Clark International Airport in Pampanga after the consortium offered to build the facility for 9.36 billion, about 25 percent below the ceiling price of 12.55 billion set by Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

The new passenger terminal building with floor area 82,600 m2 is intended for low cost carriers and will have capacity of 8 million passengers per annum.  It will supplement the main international terminal with four million passengers capacity per year bringing to 12 million passengers annually when completed by 2020.

The terminal project also involves the construction and installation of all required associated facilities—both landside and airside, to support its operations.

Other bidders of the terminal project were China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, and the consortium of Tokwing Construction Corporation and China Machinery Engineering Corporation.

The new terminal building will break ground on December 20, 2017 at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex in Pampanga.

Meanwhile, a separate bidding will be undertaken by BCDA next year for the Operations and Maintenance contract of the terminals.

Clark Airport handled close to 1.5 million passengers as of December 15 catering 125 domestic and 140 international flights per week.

Siquijor Airport New Terminal Rises

19 December 2017
The Transport Department (DOTr) has awarded the construction of 39.3 million New Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) spanning 656 sqm. for Siquijor Airport slated for completion by 4th quarter of 2018.

The Terminal is expected to hold 120 passengers per hour for Q400s and ATR72-600 flight services. It is currently being serviced by a 9 seater plane to Cebu.

Also under construction is the power house building and vehicle parking area capable of handling 80 cars at any given time.

Siquijor Airport is a community airport that has a 1.2km x 30 meter concrete runway. 

PAL Flies Siberian Airspace

Polar Route From North America Commences

18 December 2017

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has began flying Siberian Airspace overflight to North America beginning with PR flight 119 from Toronto to Manila Sunday.

The Arctic polar routes are now common airways for airlines connecting Asian cities (Bangkok, Beijing, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo) to North American cities (New York City, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Montreal,San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.)

Asian Airlines Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, China Airlines, EVA Air, Philippine Airlines and China Eastern using polar route
The Annex to the Air Services Agreement with the Russian Federation signed in 14 July 2014 paved the way for Philippine Airlines (PAL) to overfly the Siberian Airspace towards North America and Europe for the first time in the airline's history. It uses the airspace for its flight to London in 2014.

PAL used to fly North America via Alaska for its flight from Toronto to Manila westward instead of a more direct path via Siberia over polar routes 2,3, and 4. It also flew Europe following the routes via Bangkok, India and Iran, which is the same route flown by other EU and ASEAN carriers from Bangkok.

PAL intends to fly Toronto, New York, Chicago and Houston on a more direct flight to Manila via Western and Central Russia saving the airline passengers 2-3 hours of travel time.

Russia earns "royalty payments," from foreign airlines that want to fly over the country's airspace. Although these payments are significant for the airlines, it's still cheaper to pay them than divert flights away from Russian airspace.

Ipil Airport Takes Shape

17 December 2017

The Transport Department (DOTr) has awarded the construction of ₱14.5 million Ipil Airport Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) (Phase 3) slated for completion on the third quarter of 2018.

Meanwhile, a runway extension (250x30m) under Phase 2 component in the amount of ₱45.1 million from the 2017 GAA is scheduled for award extending the airports runway from the existing 600 meters to 850 meters.

The first phase of the project was started in 2009 under the stewardship of President Gloria Arroyo with a cost of ₱45 million. Second phase involves runway extension and expansion from the current 18 meters to standard 30 meters for Class C airport.

The third phase of the project will also involve 350 meter runway extension, construction of control tower and navigational facilities installation.

Ipil airport is expected to commence civil aviation operations in 2020 with Cebu Pacific ATR 72-600 flight services to Cebu.

CEB Announces MEL

11 December 2017

Low cost carrier Cebu Pacific has announced that it will fly from Manila to Melbourne by the middle of 2018.

Cebu Pacific has increased flight frequency between Manila and Sydney from five times weekly to daily operations beginning Dec. 1, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2018.

Due to utilization of flight entitlements by the airline it has run short of the required seats to make the route to Melbourne viable.

Cebu Pacific vice president of corporate communications JR Mantaring said the airline has already requested the Philippine air panel to hold air talks with the government of Australia for additional seats as these was provided in the 2015 air bilaterals.

The Philippine air panel and its counterpart in Australia raised seat entitlements between the two countries to 9,300 seats from 6,300 seats per week in 2015.

Manataring said the airline requested for 872 seats between Manila and Melbourne equivalent to thrice a week schedule on the A330-300 which the airline intends to use.

PAL Announces Delivery Schedule for A350

Triple seven arrives on the 14th 

7 December 2017

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced that it will take delivery of the A350-900 ultra-long haul aircraft beginning July 14, 2018 with first flight bound to Toronto, Canada.

The changed plan was brought by regulatory delays which prompted the airline to defer inaugural Manila to New York direct flight which is tentatively set as early as August 2018 coinciding with the delivery of the second A350.

The airline will take delivery of four 295 seater Airbus A350-900 with 3 class configuration in 2018 with the first frame arriving in June, according to PAL President Jaime J. Bautista.

“We will receive another one in August, September and December,” Bautista remarks.

In the meantime, two new Boeing 777-300ER planes let from Intrepid and Avation will be arriving in the Philippines on December 16 and 19 according to PAL for rotations to North America and London. The ninth 77W (RP-C7781) will be flown from Paine Field to Vancouver Canada for its first revenue flight to Manila on the 16th of December.