Flag carrier Philippine Airlines will expand flights to the US while low-cost airline Cebu Pacific Air will mount flights to Europe following the respective same-day announcement of the upgrade in Philippine avation status to Category 1 by the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), and the lifting of the European Union ban on Cebu Pacific flights.
“At this point we have not made a definitive decision on where to fly but certainly we would like to serve the one million overseas Filipino workers in Europe and as well as all the European businessman and tourists who would like to visit the Philippines,” Cebu Pacific Air president Lance Gokongwei said at a press conference following the April 10 announcement of the lifting of the EU ban.
On the airline’s Europe radar are London, Paris and Amsterdam. Also being studied are flights to Hawaii, Guam and Saipan after the Philippine aviation upgrade to Category 1 from Category 2.
“We certainly are looking forward to offering a special $1 fare to US or €1 to Europe at some point in the future,” Gokongwei revealed.
Next year, the airline said it plans to open more routes to the Middle East and Australia.
Meanwhile, PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, in a press statement, welcomed the “return of the country’s aviation rating to Category 1. This is a culmination of the government’s hard work, as exemplified by the efforts of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to upgrade the country’s international aviation safety standards.”
Following the re-classification, the flag carrier said it is set to immediately deploy a fleet of newly-acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for its long-haul flights to the US. With this, passengers can enjoy non-stop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco aboard new aircraft.
“This will mean at least a US$ 1 million a year savings on fuel and another $60 million a year on savings for maintenance,” Ang said.
The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft was recently acquired for $1.2 billion.
Currently, PAL operates a total of 26 weekly flights to the US, with frequencies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.
For its flights to Honolulu and Guam, PAL will continue to utilize new wide body Airbus A330-300s and single-aisle A320-200s.
Ang added the upgrade will allow PAL to explore possible airline partnerships with foreign carriers in order to maximize growth potential.
PAL currently has 29 domestic and 35 international destinations.