Asian’s first airline, Philippine Airlines (PAL), will be flying to the other side of the world, the Middle East and Europe, sometime mid next year. There have already been plans for Philippine Airlines to return to routes to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the past couple of years already.
Philippine Airlines plans on flying to Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam all from Manila by May 2013. They have already petitioned for 21 flights to Saudi Arabia to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) who regulates economic aspect of air transportation in the Philippines. So that’s roughly about 7 flights a week to three different destinations in Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, Philippine Airlines now has plans in flying to Kuwait as it has recently requested 8 flights to the Middle Eastern state.
In August and October of this year, Philippine Airlines went on a spending spree and purchased 22 Airbus A330s and three dozen Airbus A321s. I believe the Airbus A330s will be used for the Middle Eastern routes to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait as the maximum range of these aircrafts are 10,000KM (the distance from Manila to Riyadh is 7,800KM).
Therefore, Overseas Filipinos (OFWs) and migrants working in the Middle East can easily fly with Philippine Airlines and connect to other cities and provinces in the Philippines. Additionally, I presume the fares will be a lot cheaper compared to competitors as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, all of which are all 4 and 5 star airlines (based from SkyTrax).
On another note, the recent request from Philippine Airlines to fly to Turkey came as a surprise to me. Philippine Airlines has been eyeing the skies of Europe for some time now, however, haven’t been granted due to safety concerns stated from the European Union air transportation body. Interestingly enough, Turkey is yet to be a member of the European Union even though it sits on the European continent.
Philippine Airlines has announced that they have intentions of flying to two major airports in Turkey – Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport and Ankara’s Esenboğa International Airport with three weekly flights. The flag carrier will probably be utilizing two of their new Boeing 777-300ERs being delivered early next year as the route between Manila and Istanbul is roughly about 9,100Km. The Airbus A330s can certainly fly that distance, however, will just barely make it to the destination. That’s a risk an airline shouldn’t take.
So how much will it cost to travel all the way from the Philippines to the Middle East and Turkey? Here are my expected roundtrip fares including surcharges and taxes based on today’s economic situation (December 2012):
|Destination||Estimated Fare RT (including taxes and surcharges) ($USD)|
Note: These are just my personal expected round-trip fares to the above destinations based on other competitor airlines, distance and frequency.
I’ll definitely keep my eye open next year with Philippine Airlines. They seem to be aggressive with their strategies for the next few years ahead. It would be indeed a milestone for Philippine Airlines to fly to Turkey. This will be a great stepping stone to other European destinations as it’s only a few hours by flight to major European destinations such as Rome, London, Paris and Amsterdam. We’ll just have to wait and see. I hope these new routes will be given the go ahead and be materialized.