NEW YORK – After nearly 20 years, the Philippines’ flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) resumes its flights from Manila to New York. A new four-times-a-week service will operate at Terminal 1 of New York’s JFK International Airport and fly through Vancouver International Airport.
In a news release, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., said that Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia, Jr., along with Consul General Mario de Leon of the Philippine Consulate General in New York and Consul General Emilio Fernandez of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., and PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista were at Terminal One of JFK International to welcome passengers of the maiden PR Flight 126 from Manila that included PAL Chairman Lucio Tan and to send off passengers for PR Flight 127.
“The US market continues to contribute significantly to total visitor arrivals in the Philippines and we’re confident that these expansion initiatives will lead to increased tourism traffic and business activities,” Ambassador Cuisia said during the ceremonies that were also attended by Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon; JFK Airport Deputy General Manager John Selden; and JFK Airport Terminal One Deputy Executive Director Rick Feltner.
Cuisia said that “the US market contributes the second biggest arrivals in the Philippines with about 15 percent of total visitor volume based on figures from the Department of Tourism.” He said that last year, passenger arrivals from the US reached over 600,000.
Flight PR 126 departs Manila every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:50 P.M. and arrives in Vancouver at 8:50 P.M. on the same day. After a two-hour transit stop, PAL’s service continues to New York at 10:50 P.M. arriving at Terminal 1 of JFK International at 7 A.M. the following day.
The return flight, PR 127, departs from New York at 11:00 A.M. every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving in Vancouver at 1:50 P.M. It leaves at 3:20 P.M. and arrives in Manila at 8:35 P.M. the following day.
PAL is offering an introductory fare for as low as $610 to New York to celebrate the flag carrier’s return to the Big Apple. The roundtrip budget economy fare, exclusive of taxes and surcharges, is now available as of March 15, according to a published report. PAL is utilizing the Airbus A340-300 aircraft, which seats 36 passengers in business class and 218 in economy, and offers advanced entertainment systems and gourmet cuisine.
Cuisia said PAL’s new service “not just offers Filipinos an alternative route back to the Philippines.” It also “provides them with a deep sense of pride knowing that it is the national flag carrier that is bringing them home.”
Aside from New York, the carrier’s other US destinations are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.
PAL’s latest US route was part of a planned market expansion resulting from the upgrading in April 2014 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the country’s aviation safety rating. The FAA decision followed a review of the country’s procedures and facilities and restored the Category 1 safety status the Philippines had lost in January 2008.
In addition to starting new routes, the development also enabled the flag carrier to deploy its newer and fuel efficient Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A330 aircraft.
Among those who welcomed the new service were members of the Filipino-American Community in the East Coast, who took to social media to welcome the flight. A number of them said they will not only be promoting the new service but will also be taking PAL on their next visit to the Philippines.
“Some Filipinos from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Philadelphia have told the Embassy that they are willing to go all the way to JFK to take PAL even if they have the option to fly out to Manila from their respective gateways,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
At a presentation held at the Hilton in New York City on March 16 celebrating the re-launch of PAL’s return to the Big Apple, one of its honored guests was Rebecca Versoza-Santos. Santos, a nonagenrian, was PAL’s first international flight attendant and the only attendant on PAL’s first trans-Pacific crossing on July 31, 1946 on a DC-4. That was the first flight across the Pacific by any Asian airline, which took 41 hours to reach its destination.
Santos served under PAL’s first president, Don Andres Soriano, and met PAL’s current president in the Philippines in 2009. She lives in the Chelsea section of New York City.