Philippine Airlines returns to U.S. East Coast

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Philippine Airlines plans to expand its operations in North America, as the carrier this week restarted service to New York after a nearly two-decade absence.

The Philippines flag carrier now operates flights four times per week between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Manila, with a stop in Vancouver each way. It last launched flights to the region in 1996 at Newark International Airport, but stopped the subsequent year because of cost considerations, said Philippine Airlines president and COO Jaime Bautista.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2008 downgraded the carrier to a Category 2 rating, indicating its determination that the airline fell short of international safety standards, which prevented further growth in the United States. Last year, FAA upgraded it back to Category 1, which has allowed expansion plans to resume, Bautista said.

Philippine Airlines already operates in the United States out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam and recently increased service out of some of those airports. Service to New York, however, will be limited to five flights per week under its agreement with U.S. and Canadian authorities, according to Bautista. Carrier executives recently met with their Canadian ambassador and discussed the possibility of getting more service to Canada, he added.

"Our people wanted a daily flight because it's a better product than four times a week, but since we are still in a development stage, we'll start with four," Bautista said. "Maybe we can increase it to five and then work with U.S. and Canadian authorities to have more entitlements."

In the meantime, the carrier is working with some U.S. airlines to boost traffic on its New York route.

"We don't have codeshare agreements yet, but we have special prorate agreements that allow us to offer attractive fares from Manila to New York to other East Coast destinations," Bautista said. "We expect it will become a busy route, as we should be able to carry passengers from other East Coast [destinations] like Florida."

Philippine Airlines also is adding service to new markets in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming months, including to Jinjiang, China, later this month and service to Port Moresby, New Guinea, in April.
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Source: Business Travel News

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