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06
Jul

PAL readies cheaper inaugural A350 fares to New York, London

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By Victor C. Agustin | The Philippine Star

Philippine Airlines will not only field brand-new A350 planes for the non-stop flights to London and New York in late October, but it is also readying competitive inaugural fares to the two cities during the promotional period.

A check with fare comparison website skyscanner. com on Wednesday showed that PAL was quoting about P181,000 for a Manila-New York round-trip business class fare for its inaugural flight on Oct. 29.

Even a longer duration “business promo” fare that is valid up to a March 10, 2019 return to Manila was quoted in the PAL website for $4,056, or about P218,000 at the current exchange rate.

In contrast, Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong was quoted about P276,000 for business class passage; Eva Air via Taipei, about P206,000; Asiana via Seoul, about P179,00; and All Nippon Airways via Tokyo, about P193,000.

According to the grapevine, the Lucio Tan airline will also field A350s for the daily flights between Manila and London beginning Oct. 28, replacing the Boeing 777-300ER that currently service the nonstop route.

PAL’s A350-launch business class fare to the UK capital, at under P150,000 compares well with other airlines that offer daily, but with one-stopover trips to London out of Manila, like Cathay Pacific’s (about P191,000 through third-party online travel agencies), Turkish Airlines (about P135,000), Emirates (about P132,000, but with an 8.5hour layover in Dubai), and Air China via Beijing (about P159,000).

PAL’s keen pricing was also evident even for the same business class fare originating from New York.

According to skyscanner.com, business class passage for New York-Manila and back for the same travel dates costs around P200,000 from third-party websites and to as low as P160,000 for a limited number of seats from the PAL website.

Even the higher P 200,000 PAL quote is a bargain compared with Cat hay Pacific’ s P 278,000, Eva Air’ s P 254,000, Asiana’s P233,000, and ANA’s P211,000.

In addition to the competitive pricing, the flag carrier is also adding a fifth frequency a week for the Manila-New York service from Nov. 4 to March 9 next year in order to catch the balikbayan travel wave for the Yuletide and winter holidays.

The new premium economy fare for the same route will cost under P90,000 on PAL, compared to about P135,000 on Cathay Pacific, and about P76,000 on Eva Air with its 4.5-hour layover in Taipei.

As to passenger comfort, the A350-900 will offer flatbed seating in the business class section configured 1-2-1, giving each seat a direct aisle access, in contrast with the 2-3-2 configuration in the B777s that will be replaced in the London and New York routes.

Even the economy class will gain some relief, as the seating will be configured 3-3-3 against the 3-4-3 on the B777-300ER, for a total of 241 seats against 328 in the Boeing aircraft.

Airbus will deliver the first A350 to PAL on July 14, Bastille Day, the first of the six A350-900s that the flag carrier ordered from the Toulouse headquarters.

According to the grapevine, PAL president Jaime Bautista has decided to field its first A350 to the busy ManilaHong Kong route, as well as to other regional destinations beginning July 20, before commissioning the plane to the New York route.

And for airline buffs, the forthcoming 16-hour flight to New York, at 8,520 miles, would make the PAL flight the longest nonstop out of JFK Airport, according to the pointsguy.com.

The Manila-New York flight would also nose out the current 8th longest nonstop service in the world, which USA Today listed as the Atlanta-Johannesburg service, at 8,439 miles, operated by Delta Airlines.