By: AirTravellerPH Staff
There is no where to go but up for Philippine Airlines (PAL). Just recently, Forbes Magazine named Philippine Airlines as the "Airlines to Watch in 2020". After achieving numerous accolades in 2019 including Skytrax's "Most Improved Airline of the Year" and 8 others from the awarding body, after pushing itself to be in the league of airlines like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, PAL has been on its toes to achieve more.
According to Forbes, a lot of change has happened after years of being a "second-rate" airline. First is the move from a 3-star airline to a 4-star carrier rating from Skytrax. It was the first time PAL achieved such a recognition after making major improvements in service and product. Change is very noticeable when you take a PAL flight.
First, the airline invested on new aircraft which can fly longer and are more fuel effecient, the Airbus A350-900 and the A321NEO. After retiring its A340 fleet which have an average age of 9 years, the present average age of PAL's fleet is 5.5 years. Second, you will notice changes in cabin configuration. While they still have those A321-200s and some A330s with boring and more dense seating configuration, most of the aircraft the airline acquired are now equipped with seatback Inflight Entertainment Systems. Even their new narrowbody A321NEOs are now equipped with such feature.
For the first time in its history, PAL equipped its narrowbody aircraft A321NEO LR with full-flat business class seats equipped with huge screens and WiFi on board! Out of the 21 A321NEO ordered by the airline, 6 of them have long range capabilities which allow non-stop flights between Manila and Sydney, Australia.
PAL finally replaced its A340-300 fleet with A350-900s flying non-stop to New York, Toronto, London, sometimes Los Angeles, San Francisco, and regional routes. If you want to know where PAL flies its A350s, you would want to find out more here.
Another change was the A330-300 reconfiguration where 8 out of the 15 in its fleet were given a cabin make-over. From its dense 414-monoclass seating, these A330s were reconfigured to 309 tri-class configuration, business class, premium economy, and economy. The aircraft was also equipped with IFEs throughout the cabin.
Fast forward to 2020, PAL announced the opening of new international routes. Well first to be announced was Manila to Perth, Australia services. Next which took the headlines by storm was the announcement of Manila to Seattle services, the 6th destination in the U.S. PAL also announced that it is reviving the Cebu to Los Angeles route which was closed down in 2017.
PAL has also survived the worse of times. Last year, the airline incurred massive financial loses. Despite this, PAL continues to push forward in being that global airline brand you would want to fly in, whether you be flying to and from Manila, or perhaps simply transiting in the Philippines.
Achieving 8 accolades from Skytrax and more are just the beginning of its step up to become an airline more Filipinos can be proud of. Forbes Magazine in its report said, "Much of the change at Philippine Airlines has already happened, though that will be news to most outside the country. The airline has invested in new A350 and A321neo airplanes; it now offers a business class seat that can compete with the best of them; it’s raised the bar for inflight service and food; and it’s been busy adding new destinations, especially in North America. All of this is part of a drive launched in 2016 to become a 5-star airline. And despite some turbulence – CEO Jaime Bautista abruptly stepped down last year, and the airline continues to lose money – these investments have quietly turned PAL into an airline you might actually want to fly on."
2020 will indeed be an interesting year for PAL. They already gave us a tease of what to expect like the new routes, so all we have to do is to sit back and watch how the year will unfold for the Philippines' national carrier. Indeed, PAL is an airline to watch for. The road to 5-stars may still be long as of now but whats important is the continuous improvement of their finances, services, and product.
So keep an eye on PAL as it climbs nowhere but higher. We too are excited for it. The announcement of new routes are simply just the beginning.