Philippine Airlines all set to strengthen presence in Gulf

DUBAI — The Philippines’ flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), has an active plan to strengthen its presence in the Gulf region by expanding its code-share agreements with its Middle East carrier-partners, according to an an airline official.

By Criselda E. Diala

Published: Sat 7 Jul 2007, 8:55 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:01 AM

Speaking from the PAL Head Office in Manila, Jose E.L. Perez de Tagle, assistant vice-president government affairs of PAL, said that the airline management was “constantly reviewing viable market options” and will decide accordingly.

PAL, considered as Asia’s oldest existing airline, had to suspend its flights to major destinations in the Middle East as early as 1998 following a major economic slump resulting from the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The airline entered into a full-scale 10-year rehabilitation plan in June 1999 and signed up a code-share agreement with Emirates Airline in September of the same year, paving the way for seat allocation on Emirates’ Dubai-Manila route.

However, in March 2006, it altogether pulled the plug on its Middle East operations by suspending its flights to and from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where most of the more than 2 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the region are residing.

In an earlier Press statement, PAL cited the rising cost of aviation fuel prices and ‘gross overcapacity’ or an influx of carriers, mostly from the Middle East and Far East, offering flights to Southeast Asia at reduced air fares, as reasons for its Middle East operation pull-out.

De Tagle said PAL’s code-share agreement with Emirates had been successful and on-going for the past eight years. “The code-share agreement has always been flexible. Seat allocation may increase or decrease depending on market demand. But so far it has been doing well and we’re considering expanding the agreement,” he said.

On average, Emirates allot 25 seats per flight in all its 10-weekly flights to Manila for PAL, accounting a total of 250 seats in a week.

De Tagle, however, does not discount the possibility of PAL flying into the Middle East air space again in the very near future as its rehabilitation plan nears completion. “Although we’ve lost heavily in the past, we have managed to gain some grounds. We’ve ordered a new fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft for our regional and domestic flights and Boeing 777-300 ER planes our long-haul flights,” the PAL official explained.

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