Year 2016 is Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) 75th birth year, having flown for the first time in 1941, just months before the outbreak of World War II.
So, on March 15, 2016, PAL management unveiled its new marketing campaign – the Heart of the Filipino – before its personnel and a select group of VIP guests
Special dinners in Manila and major domestic and international stations for PAL personnel and guests were held to start the ball rolling for the year-long 75th anniversary celebration.
A coffee table book and a commemorative postage stamp were unveiled, together with the traditional exhibit of historical photos and memorabilia.
Three of the country’s best contemporary singers – Leah Salonga, Bamboo and Sarah Geronimo – gave life to PAL’s new theme song, “The Heart of the Filipino,” igniting a global campaign that associated heartwarming Filipino service with the flag carrier.
The marketing campaign coincided with the announcement of a new corporate vision – to be a five-star airline within five years.
PAL now aims to rejoin the league of the world’s best airlines, to be ranked five-star by Skytrax, a global airline rating organization.
Inside PAL, employees’ mantra is to “Get That Star” – soliciting personal staff commitments to ensure passenger expectations are exceeded.
In 2016, PAL announced a most impressive financial performance with $134.42 million comprehensive income for 2015, which is a six-fold leap over the previous year.
This is one of the reasons why the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) named PAL as Airline Turnaround for the Year 2016.
During the year, the airline took delivery of seven new aircraft – two Boeing 777-300ERs and five Airbus A321s – bringing the PAL fleet to 81 aircraft by yearend.
The aircraft deliveries continue until year 2024.
An expanded fleet allowed PAL to fly to four new international destinations (Kuwait, Jeddah, Doha, Saipan), open new routes (Cebu-Singapore, Cebu-Los Angeles, Manila-Taipei-Osaka, Cebu-Caticlan-Clark) and increase flight frequencies (Manila-Los Angeles – twice daily; Manila-Toronto – 3x to 4x weekly; Manila-Beijing – 4x to 6x weekly; and Manila-Vancouver – 7x to 10x weekly).
In January 2016, PAL ordered six Airbus A350-900, a twin-engine jet designed for long-haul flights, fitted with luxurious cabin amenities that will redefine the standards of premium travel. Four A350s will be delivered in 2018, the last two in 2019.
With the A350, PAL will be able to fly non-stop Manila-New York, through the Arctic region.
Also, PAL ordered five new generation Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplanes, configured with 86 seats (10 seats more than the existing Q400 fleet) and choice seats in the forward section.
Meanwhile, the airline introduced a series of product innovations topped by an enhanced inflight connectivity system called the myPAL Inflight Entertainment System, which consist of myPALeSuite, myPALWifi, myPAL Mobile and myPAL Player apps.
With myPALeSuite, passengers can catch up on the latest movies, TV shows and music while flying. With myPALWi-fi, passengers can surf and browse the internet, update and check social apps at 30,000 feet above ground. With myPAL Mobile, passengers can call and text loved ones. Lastly, with the myPAL Player app, passengers can stream the latest movies, TV shows and music on one’s own device. The myPAL Player app is available on both android and iOS.
Other service enhancements include myPAL Upgrade, which allows passengers to bid online for upgrades to Business Class; myPAL Roam, which is a global mobile hotspot that provides fast and affordable mobile data around the world; Mabuhay Miles Travel Card that serves as a travel wallet; and the PAL Boutique that sells exclusive co-branded items essential for travel.
Other milestones marked in 2016 include:
• In January, PAL adopted a Philippine eaglet, named by employees ‘Sinag,’ and donated a million miles which the Philippine Eagle Foundation may exchange for free tickets in pursuit of their advocacy to nurture and preserve the endangered specie;
• In April, PAL took pride at Maxine Medina for being crowned 2016 Binibining Pilipinas-Universe. She is the daughter of PAL pilot Capt. Max Medina;
• In May, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) presented to PAL and PAL Express a certificate of implementation of the IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM), proving the two carriers’ compliance to internationally recognized standards in ground safety and operations;
• For more than a week in August, PAL operated special direct flights to Medina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fly Filipino Hajj pilgrims;
• In September, PAL opened its first contact center in China, serving passengers from seven mainland cities – Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Jinjiang, Shanghai, Xiamen;
• PAL hosted the 60th Assembly of Presidents of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) last November;
• Also in November, the 180-seater A320 jets were deployed for the first time to Caticlan, accommodating more passengers to/from Boracay.
Throughout the year, the company maintained being a socially responsible corporate citizen. PAL continued to deliver relief goods to disaster areas, repatriated OFWs in war-torn countries and recently flown financially-challenged, talented Filipinos to represent the best of country in international competitions through its flagship corporate social responsibility project – RPRSNT Pinoy!
The excitement continues in 2017 as PAL lines up more aircraft deliveries, inaugural flights, new products and services – starting with new routes that would fly passengers direct to their destinations without transiting in Manila, such as Clark-Incheon (South Korea) on January 1, 2017
Also in 2017, PAL will start retrofitting its fleet of Airbus A330 with new economy seats, lie-flat Business Class seats and the latest inflight entertainment system through individual seat monitors. By removing more than a hundred seats, all passengers get more legroom.
The country’s pioneer flag carrier is focused at its goal of transforming into a five-star airline. The pace just got faster towards achieving that goal in 2017.