Asia’s first airline, Philippine Airlines, is flying to the Big Apple on Mar. 15, marking the carrier’s much-awaited expansion to the US east coast in over a decade.
In announcing the inaugural New York service, PAL Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Lucio C. Tan said, “This auspicious start of regular flights to New York will coincide with PAL’s 74th founding anniversary.” The national flag carrier turns 75 years old in 2016.
The four-times-a-week service – Manila-Vancouver-New York – will operate at Terminal 1 of New York’s JFK International Airport. PAL will have full traffic rights between Vancouver and New York.
The addition of New York will bring to five the total US destinations, following Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.
The flight to New York , a distance of 14,501 kms. or 16.5 total flying hours, will be PAL’s longest route.
Flight PR 126 departs Manila every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:50 p.m. Arrival in Vancouver is 8:50 p.m. on the same day. After a two-hour transit stop, the service continues on to New York at 10:50 p.m., touching down at Terminal 1 of JFK International at 7:00 a.m. the following day.
For the return service, PR 127 departs New York at 11 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving in Vancouver at 1:50 p.m. It departs the Canadian city at 3:20 p.m. and lands back in Manila at 8:35 p.m. the following day.
PAL will utilize the Airbus A340-300 jets, which seats 36 passengers in business class and 218 in economy.
On board, passengers can expect to be pampered with PAL’s signature “at home” in-flight service, which features business class seats that convert to full-flat beds; in-flight entertainment system such as audio-video on demand in business, and gourmet cuisine designed by top international guest chefs.
The New York service will have the added benefit of boosting PAL’s Canadian operation. From Mar. 15, the current daily service between Manila and Vancouver will spike to 11 flights weekly with three departure times from Manila – mid-afternoon, early evening and late evening – providing wider schedule choices to passengers.
Manila-Toronto will add a fourth weekly frequency, increasing capacity on this long-haul route in time for the peak summer travel period out of Manila.
PAL’s return has been keenly anticipated by the huge Filipino-American communities along the U.S. eastern seaboard ever since the flag carrier pulled out of the region in 1997. About half a million ethnic Filipinos reside on the East Coast, with over 253,000 in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, 90,000 in Virginia, 75,000 in Washington, D.C. and environs, and 31,000 in the Philadelphia metro area. Overall, Filipinos on the East Coast account for 15% of the estimated 3.4-million-strong Filipino population in the U.S., comprising a natural base market for PAL.
PAL, according to its website, has a wide route network covering 29 domestic and 36 international destinations. – M. Mandap