Iloilo Airport Closes After Aircraft Accident

5J 461 Verred Off Runway

14 October 2017

A Cebu Pacific (CEB) Airbus 320 plane with serial number RP-C3237(sn) carrying 180 passengers from Manila has veered right off runway after landing at Iloilo International Airport runway 20 Friday evening ended up stopping on the grass.

All passengers were accounted for and was safely evacuated after the airline initiated emergency evacuation procedure when the aircraft came to a complete stop after landing.

The airport was declared closed by Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) last night because of runway obstruction affecting 33 subsequent domestic and international flight to Iloilo.

The airport is expected to be closed until Sunday evening.

Sayak Airport Set For Class II Upgrade

3 October 2017

Sayak Airport in Siargao Island is set for aerodrome upgrade as passenger traffic soars since it re-opened to the public in 2010 according to the Transport Department (DOTr).

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade disclosed last week that they already have the "Masterplan" in place for Sakay Airport Development projected to cost around ₱5.9 Billion based on 2013 price indices from a ₱7 million feasibility study completed in 2014 by consulting firm Philippines-Japan Airport Consultants Inc. (PHILJAC).

Tugade said the airport development will be undertaken in two phases. The first phase which already started, include airside developments for runway extension up to 2km. x 30m. and will cost around ₱1.2 Billion, and the second phase is allotted for runway, apron, and terminal expansions, including procurement of navigational and meteorological equipment's which costs another ₱4.7 Billion.

DOTr has been extending the community classified airport since 2013 as Sayak airport only has 1 kilometer x 30 runway good for turboprop flights with less than an hour range. It cannot handle turboprop flights originating from Manila due to runway limitations. It has since been extended to 1,300 meters on a ₱350 million budget enabling it to support BAE 146 operations.

In 2015 GAA, the airport was allocated another ₱264.1 million for runway extension up to 1,500 meters construction of which is scheduled to be done in the fourth quarter of this year.

Commercial flights started flying the airport in 2011 as Cebu Pacific launched twice-a-week ATR72-500 Cebu-Siargao services on March 4. Flight frequency were increased in 2014.

The airport saw its first jet land in February this year as Skyjet offered direct thrice a week flights to Manila on BAE146-200. Cebu Pacific intends to offer direct turboprop service from Manila on December 17 while Philippine Airlines intends to offer turboprop services from Cebu on Q300 from December 1.

Completion of the phase 1 project will upgrade the airport to Class II status from the present community type, while phase 2 project completion will upgrade the airport to international standard Class 1 airport.

Sayak airport is expected to be reclassified to Class 1 international standard airport when finally completed.

Bukidnon Airport Takes Shape

2 October 2017

PAL Upgrades OnAir

2 October 2017

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is upgrading its wireless in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) product OnAir Play to be installed on all its long haul fleet.

All existing Boeing B777 fleet equipped with Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband will be upgraded to Inmarsat’s Global Express (GX) Aviation powered by Honeywell’s JetWave SATCOM terminal starting with the aircraft that is scheduled to arrive in December 2017.

The new IFEC system will also be fitted to all its Airbus A350s and A321NEOs orders that will start arriving in 2018.

“GX Aviation is specifically designed for in-flight broadband, offering unprecedented speed, reliability and consistency,” said Frederik van Essen, Inmarsat Aviation’s SVP of strategy and business development.

GX Aviation will bring the newest generation of Ka-band service available since 2016 to PAL providing Internet broadband connection speeds of 50Mbps virtually everywhere in the world and is set to change the shape of inflight connectivity of the airline as it strives to upgrade its product offer.

“Philippine Airlines is absolutely focused on delivering the best-possible passenger experience, driving towards our goal of becoming a full-service five-star carrier. PAL is at the forefront of the connected aircraft revolution, and we are excited about the future. Service innovations, together with flight route network expansion and fleet modernization, remains a top priority.” PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista said.

OnAir is a proprietary product of SITA which provides internet and telephone connection to airborne aircraft. It was fitted to the airline's long haul aircraft ranging from the B777s, A340s and A330s since 2014.

SITA's OnAir will enhanced connected experience for passengers and cabin crews with its integrated in-flight entertainment connections from Zodiac Inflight Innovations, aside from its existing Mobile OnAir service, an OnAir Plug’s secure online channel for in-flight card transactions and crew and passenger interactions.

DOTR To Ground PAL

Owes the Philippine Government ₱7 Billion in Fees and Charges

27 September 2017

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is taking legal action against Philippine Airlines (PAL) if the flag carrier fails to settle almost ₱7 billion in unpaid “navigational fees and other charges” in the next 10 days.

DOTr said that PAL owes the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) ₱6.594 billion as of December 2015. The flag carrier also has a separate overdue account of ₱370,583,588.96 for January - July 2017 alone.

Meanwhile, PAL also owes Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) ₱322,112,385.00, as of 26 September 2017.

"Final demand for full payment of all unpaid charges has been sent to PAL, preparatory to the filing of appropriate legal action in order to protect the interest of government," the DOTr said in a statement.

DOTr said that aside from the collection suit PAL will not be permitted to use the facilities of Manila International Airport, its main hub. The airline will not be also permitted to fly for failure to pay air navigational fees and other charges.

"Pay up or prepare to be grounded" - Duterte
In a speech at the Philippine Constitution Association on Tuesday night, President Rodrigo Duterte has warned business tycoon Lucio Tan, chairman and chief executive officer of Philippine Airlines, to settle his liabilities with the government in 10 days or he would shut down Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

Aeronautical Fees are supposed to be remitted to the General Fund in the National Treasury to be used for the maintenance and operation of other international and domestic airports in the country, in accordance with Section 3 of E.O.No. 298 dated July 26, 1987.

Duterte said the money could already have been used in the completion of much delayed airport projects in Tacloban and Bicol had PAL paid for their dues.

The President said he don't care if plenty of passengers would be inconvenienced in PAL's grounding.

“We have to enforce the law.if you are put into a great discomfort, sorry. Wala akong magawa. The law is the law. It is the law,” Duterte explains.

DOTr earlier told PAL to “settle your obligations in 30 days, otherwise, we will be constrained to do all that is necessary to protect the interests” of the state. It was amended later to 10 days by order of the President.

The transport department confirmed that PAL had negotiated to settle its growing unpaid fees in seven years but the request was denied telling the airline to pay the fees in full like any other airline would.

PAL said it has received demand letters from CAAP as early as August 2016 to settle unpaid navigational charges “in the amount of ₱6.63 billion” and that it was seeking a compromise settlement. It already settled ₱370 million out of these unpaid charges.

“This issue on alleged unpaid navigational charges involves complex legal issues which PAL has been trying to thresh out with the Authority for years,” PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said.

Villaluna said it already submitted an offer to the CAAP through its inter-agency panel of negotiators under CAAP Authority Order 149-17, but has not received a response just yet.

The airline is offering to pay the government ₱4 billion in seven years to finally settle the issue on unpaid navigational charges.

"We look forward to meeting the negotiating panel and we are ready to submit a Compromise Agreement to settle this issue once and for all," PAL added.

CAAP said it has unpaid accounts from PAL amounting to ₱6,965,146,149.63 as of July 30 2017. Of this amount only P3.6 billion of the P6.91 billion being demanded by CAAP is backed by invoices while the rest is unsubstantiated claims.

Why it Grew So Big?
DOTr disclosed that landing and parking fees has not been paid by PAL since its privatisation and occupation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 in 1998.

PAL is supposed to pay the government ₱803 million per year for the exclusive use of the terminal but wasn't paying because there was no lease contract executed between MIAA and the airline.

PAL was owned by the government until 1996 when it was fully privatised. The airline enjoyed tax privileges and fee exemptions prior to its privatisation in 1992 as a government owned airline. It went into bankruptcy and rehabilitation in 1999. It was allowed one year free-use of the terminal and free navigational fees by then President Joseph Estrada as government support for its rehabilitation efforts.

In 2002, the Department of Justice said Philippine Airlines is no longer exempt from payment of aeronautical fees to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and was sued for payment. In 2007, the Court of Appeals upheld a compromise deal between MIAA and PAL for the settlement of P2.93 billion in unpaid aeronautical fees to be paid in tranches for seven years. Until now this settlement deal has not been fully paid by PAL contrary to their earlier made commitments which got the ire of President Duterte.

The Transport Department also said that PAL wanted to use Terminal 3 all to themselves in 2005 prior to the move of Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines to use the terminal but the request was denied by MIAA because it had a pending ₱5.1- billion unpaid fees owed to the airport owner.

PAL Grows Cebu Hub More

Opens Bangkok and Beijing

 23 September 2017

Philippine Airlines will open Bangkok and Beijing from Mactan Cebu beginning December 2 for thrice a week flight on the A321-200 every Tuesday Thursday and Saturday, while Beijing will be added once a week starting November 4 and every Saturday thereafter with A320-200.

Growing Back Middle East
PAL also announced that it will be resuming the thrice weekly service between Manila and Abu Dhabi from October 31 as bi-class A330 becomes available to the airline. It will also introduce business class services and additional flights to Dammam.

PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said the flag carrier will provide a bi-class (business and economy) service across all its Middle East routes coupled with free internet and wireless IFE services to improve its product offer. Seven A330-300s will be deployed for this route.

The airline currently operates 30 flights per week to the Middle East flying daily for Dubai and Riyadh as well as five times weekly flights to Dammam, four weekly flights to Kuwait, and Doha, and thrice weekly flights to Jeddah.

PAL said it will be operating 33 weekly nonstop flights to seven destinations in the Middle East by December 1.

PR 8114, Anyone?

23 September 2017

PAL Flies Puerto Rico

There is no such flight number for the flag carrier. But on September 18, 2017 Philippine Airlines (PAL) went to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico from Manila with technical stop at San Francisco international airport loaded with relief goods and supplies for the Filipino victims of hurricane Irma. 

The technical stop was also made for the Emergency Response Team from the Philippine Embassy in San Francisco together with airline personnel to board the plane heading to Puerto Rico to help facilitate repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) working in the Caribbean islands chain who would be traveling back to the Philippines on the chartered PAL aircraft.

The A340-300 plane was no stranger to San Juan, its capital, as it regularly flew with Iberia to Madrid before it began another life in the far east. On Monday it visited the place again as PAL flight PR8114 (RP-C4338) chartered by the Philippine government for repatriation of some 200 OFWs working in the British Virgin Islands and Netherlands Antilles.

However, only 90 Filipinos were able to board PAL flight PR8115 on Tuesday as the airline were directed to depart early.

PR8115 was expected to leave on the evening of September 19 together with twenty two more Filipinos from Sint Martin but were left behind after the Philippine government received advisory from Puerto Rican authorities Tuesday morning to leave early after radar reports showed the island to be in the direct path of Hurricane Maria another category 5 storm barely six hours away from hitting San Juan. It left San Juan at 11am and waited for the rest of the repatriated passengers in San Francisco before heading back to the Philippines.

A total of 132 OFWs from the British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten and Anguilla were airlifted back to Manila on September 20 from San Francisco via PR 8115 which landed at Terminal 2 around 9:00pm.

"We praise and thank God for the successful rescue and repatriation of our hurricane-stricken kababayans from the Caribbean," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano has said from New York.

PAL Flies Toronto Direct

Opens Up Chicago, Houston, and Seattle 

15 September 2017

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said that it will fly direct flights to Toronto again beginning December 16 four times a week using B777-300ER aircraft five years after flying direct on November 30, 2012.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista disclosed that they are also in the final planning stage for route expansion to the United States with Chicago and Houston added to its international network via Vancouver using Boeing planes. Chicago will be flown 4 times a week while Houston will have thrice a week service.

Meanwhile, direct flight from Manila to New York and Seattle will also be added to its international network beginning summer of next year with New York flown by A350-900 in June, while Seattle will be added sometime on the last quarter of next year.

“The Airbus A350 is our new ultra-long-range flagship, a 295 seater wide-body airplane that will help us link the Philippines nonstop to Toronto, New York, Chicago, and other east board points in North America,” Bautista said.

Bautista added the airline is just waiting for final regulatory approvals from the US DOT before making official announcement for the new routes.

PAL Discloses A321NEO LR Routes

PAL would also be adding international points to Australia, Japan and India says Bautista with its new Airbus A321 NEO and long-range (LR) variant aircraft slated for delivery in 2018 and 2019, respectively, with the LR version all destined for Australia and India operations.

Bautista said that they will be launching nonstop services to Brisbane, Cairns, Delhi, Perth, Mumbai, and Sapporo, while flights to Melbourne and Sydney will be increase to daily and twice daily services, respectively with the A321LRs arrival in 2019.

The Airbus A321LR NEO sits 206 passengers and has a range of 4000 nautical miles enabling it to fly as far as Melbourne in Australia with cargo payload revenue.

The airline will receive two more B777 aircraft in December 2017, six A350-900LR beginning June 2018, all for flights to North America and Europe. As to its narrow-body fleet, PAL will receive twenty one A321NEOs beginning January of 2018, while 6 LR variant is slated for delivery at the second half of 2019.