CANADA — The latest published airline schedules reveal that Philippine Airlines is planning to downgrade its Canadian routes, reports the Philippine Flight Network.
The airline currently operates a daily flight to Vancouver with three weekly flights that continue from Vancouver on to Toronto using a Boeing 777 aircraft. However, the airline plans to downgrade its Canadian routes to the A340 beginning in September.
After the Philippines regained Category 1 status from the US Federal Aviation Administration, the airline revealed plans to deploy its Boeing 777 fleet to San Francisco and Los Angeles. PAL deployed its 777 fleet on a daily service to Los Angeles on May 4 with four weekly 777 flights to San Francisco scheduled to commence on July 1.
The iconic Boeing 747-400s – PAL’s flagship for its trans-Pacific route for the last two decades – were formally retired on May 12, 2014 in a ceremony where the flag carrier also announced the deployment of the new B777-300ERs as replacement on the trans-Pacific routes. The B747 was the world’s most popular long-range aircraft until the manufacture of more fuel-efficient modern Boeing 777s.
The addition of the 777-300ER to the PAL fleet brings new twin-engine efficiency to the airline’s long-haul fleet. The airplanes are powered by General Electric GE90-115BLs, the world’s largest and most powerful commercial jet engine. The 777-300ER is well known for its cargo capacity — up to 7,120 cubic feet (201.6 cubic meters).
“The Boeing 777-300ER is a great choice for PAL, giving Asia’s first commercial airline the most efficient airplane in the 300-to-400 seat segment,” said Rob Laird, vice president of Sales for East and Southeast Asia Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It provides the airline the flexibility to serve key markets worldwide while offering its passengers the highest levels of comfort and reliability.”
Philippine Airlines, the national flag carrier, conducted its first flight March 15, 1941, and has been operating longer than any other airline in Asia.
The flag carrier will save USD$120 million per year in fuel and maintenance costs using the B777 on its US routes inasmuch as the aircraft can fly 7,930 nautical miles or 14,700 kilometers from Manila to the US mainland and back nonstop without refuelling.
PAL’s sixth B777 was delivered five months ago, bringing the average age of its B777 fleet to just two years. The long-range aircraft are currently used on long-haul flights to Australia, Canada and Europe.
The Boeing 777 aircraft currently operates PAL routes to London Heathrow, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Toronto. But the six 777 aircraft in the Philippine Airlines fleet are insufficient to completely cover all of the flights operated to these destinations. As PAL retires the Boeing 747 from its last three remaining weekly flights to San Francisco at the end of August, the Boeing 777 will be redeployed from Canadian routes to cover the daily San Francisco flight.
The B777 is PAL’s new flagship featuring 370 seats in a bi-class configuration with lie-flat seats in Business Class and personal in-flight entertainment throughout the entire aircraft. The much older 254-seat A340-300 aircraft also has a bi-class configuration but lacks the modern amenities of the Boeing 777. Philippine Airlines recently acquired these aircraft used from Spanish carrier Iberia in a leasing arrangement with Airbus. The aircraft has the old recliner style Business Class seats and “main screen” in-flight entertainment.
The A340-300 flights will begin on September 1. Canadian passengers embarking in Toronto will likely be disappointed that they must endure an older aircraft with main screen entertainment for a journey that exceeds 15 hours.
For Vancouver bound flights, PR116 will depart four times weekly at 7:00pm arriving in Vancouver at 4:15pm. The return flight, PR117 will depart Vancouver at 11:45pm, arriving back in Manila at 4:35am (+2).
For Toronto bound flights, PR118 departs Manila three times weekly at 3:00pm, arriving in Vancouver at 12:15pm, and continuing onto Toronto at 1:45pm. The aircraft finally touches down in Toronto at 9:05pm. The return flight, PR119, departs Toronto for Vancouver at 10:35pm. It arrives in Vancouver at 12:35am (+1) before departing back to Manila at 1:50am. The flight touches down in Manila at 6:40am (+2).
Philippine Airlines is likely timing the downgrading of its Canadian routes to the end of the busy summer season. Summer in the northern hemisphere extends through August and is a time when many overseas Filipinos residing in Canada and the United States return home to visit friends and relatives. There are currently 33,000 Filipinos that hold permanent resident visas in Canada, with Tagalog declared as the fastest growing foreign language group in Canada. Trade between the Philippines and Canada recently climbed to $1.7 billion. Canada was one of the first countries to respond to the Super Typhoon Haiyan disaster donating $85 million in aid.(Filipino Post)