Two years ago, Philippine Airlines was proudly (re)opening its route Manila-London with an Airbus A340-300. By then, PAL CEO Jaime Bautista was highlighting the airline’s intention to open two or three new destinations on the European continent. Frankfurt, Paris and Rome were among the shortlisted destinations. They used to be part of the airline’s network prior to PAL restructuring at the end of the 1990s.
However the world has changed and PAL has put on hold its European expansion for the time being, as confirmed by Jaime Bautista, present at the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Travel Forum in Manila last week. PAL is instead now focusing on improving its London load factor. The situation is unlikely to change for a couple of years due to the increased competition of Gulf carriers on the Philippines-Europe route.
Competition from Middle East carriers is indeed intense with Cebu, Clark Airport and Manila being served by non-stop frequencies mostly to Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai and Saudi Arabia due to a strong Filipino working force all around the Gulf. With their extensive network across Europe, airlines such as Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways provide one-stop connections to over 40 European cities, a number that PAL will not be able to compete with. Emirates announced to open this spring time a new flight from Dubai to Cebu and Clark. Six Gulf carriers and Turkish Airlines serve for now the Philippines.
PAL consequently continues to concentrate on the expansion of network in the Middle East, Australia and North America. The airline will open a non stop frequency from Cebu to Los Angeles during the spring time. In recent months, the airline launched flights to Jeddah and Kuwait in the Gulf region and to Auckland and Port Moresby in the Pacific.
Changes could occur with PAL due to confirm by the end of next month a command of new aircraft. The Airbus A350-900 seems to be on the top of the list. The aircraft with its low kerosene consumption and its long range capability would then open a new chance to add a European city to Philippine Airlines network. Delivery could start from 2017…