26 March 2015 – The first plane from Philippine Airlines (PAL) to fly the Manila-New York route in 17 years had its inaugural landing at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport on March 15. The timing couldn’t be better for the Philippine flag carrier, which celebrates its 74th anniversary this month, as the Department of Tourism marked 2015 as “Visit Philippines Year”. Direct flights from New York to Manila are hoped to boost tourist arrivals to the Philippines.
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Undersecretary Jose Lotilla, Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, other Philippine government officials as well as PAL executives were among the passengers of the inaugural flight. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia, Jr. and Philippine Consul General Mario De Leon welcomed the passengers of the inaugural flight as they arrived at JFK airport and led the ribbon-cutting ceremony along with JFK Deputy General Manager John Selden and Terminal 1 Deputy Executive Director Rick Feltner.
Ambassador Cuisia remarked, “The resumption of PAL flights to and from the East Coast is something that thousands of our kababayans in this part of the United States have long been waiting for. This new service that PAL is commencing today not just offers Filipinos an alternative route back to the Philippines. More importantly, it provides them with a deep sense of pride knowing that it is the national flag carrier that is bringing them home.”
Following the Category 1 reinstatement of the Philippines by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), PAL CEO Jaime Bautista stated that PAL was ready to launch Manila-New York flights. He further said that the increased demand from the US market pushed PAL to reopen the Manila-New York route. PAL flies four times weekly from Manila to New York, while their seven weekly flights from Manila to Los Angeles and San Francisco will be increased to 11.
Asked to comment on their flight and operational performance, Bautista said that they have a relatively young fleet, with a median age of three years for their planes. PAL will be flying their newer, fuel-efficient Boeing 777 and Airbus A340 for the Manila-New York flights .
On the complaints about the Ninoy Aquino International Airport I conditions, DOTC Undersecretary Lotilla said that the terminal is undergoing renovation and they expect all improvements to be done by the end of March.
DOT Undersecretary Bengzon acknowledged the launch of PAL’s Manila-New York flights as a big contributor to the overall efforts to boost tourism to the country. He noted that 99% of tourist traffic is from air travel and that Public-Private Partnerships are key to sustaining growth in tourism, especially concerning accommodations for the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) market. He added that Manila has improved considerably in terms of accommodations.
Philippine Airlines’ re-entry to the New York market is a strategic move, making it one of only a handful of Asian airlines with regular direct flights to JFK. Further, Undersecretary Bengzon said that DOT is aware of the tremendous impact that the ASEAN integration will have on the tourism industry. He also said that DOT anticipates the implementation of the open skies policy to increase tourism arrivals in the Philippines from ASEAN countries beyond the current 10%.
PAL flights from New York to Manila leave JFK four days a week, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. These flights make a technical stop in Vancouver before proceeding to Manila. END