Philippine Airlines (PAL) launches non-stop Manila-Toronto flights from November 30, opening its first gateway on the eastern seaboard of North America in 15 years. The airline put a halt to a Manila-Vancouver-New Jersey routing in 1997.
The new 17-hour flight rejigs PAL's Canadian operations. The current daily Manila-Vancouver route will be revised to four times weekly, which includes the continuing leg to Toronto. This alternates with the three-times weekly non-stop Manila-Toronto service. A B777-300ER, seating 42 in business class and 328 in economy class, will be utilised for this service.
In a related development, PAL is dropping its Las Vegas via Vancouver service due to poor load factors. Intead, it will code share with other airlines.
Since the announcement in August that industry giant San Miguel Corporation sank US$500 million into the moribund carrier – gaining a 49 per cent share (click news) – there has been a series of developments for PAL (click news and news).
A pressing reason for the new flights can be traced to the fact that about 250,000, or 4.1 per cent, of Toronto’s 6.05 million residents are of Filipino origin. Filipino-Canadians last year accounted for over 117,400 arrivals to the Philippines, a figure expected to be surpassed this year. Ramon Ang, PAL president, added: “Toronto is just the first step in our long-range network expansion that will see PAL fly back to the US East Coast and Europe.”
While trade between the archipelago and Canada remains modest, interest from Canadian investors has been ratcheted up, especially since the Philippines' economy – long tagged as one of the most problematic in Asia – has been making noticeable strides under the Aquino administration. Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, stopped over in Manila last week after India for a brief meeting with President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. The country is Canada's second largest market in Southeast Asia for agricultural products and several Canadian companies are involved in local mining operations.
A new area being explored is Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) due to the Filipinos' high proficiency in English and well-known customer service skills.
For more about PAL, visit www.pal.com.ph
Margie T Logarta