NEW YORK – National flag carrier Philippine Airlines finally made a long overdue comeback to the East Coast by flying into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, nearly two decades after it last served its most distant point in the United States.
The resumption of PAL’s four-times-a-week service from Manila to New York via Vancouver and back, which took place on the occasion’s of the airline’s 74th anniversary, was lauded by the Filipino-American Community and is expected to boost passenger traffic to the Philippines.
“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,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said.
“This new service that PAL is commencing today not just offers Filipinos an alternative route back to the Philippines,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “More importantly, it provides them with a deep sense of pride knowing that it is the national flag carrier that is bringing them home.”
Ambassador Cuisia, along with Consul General Mario de Leon of the Philippine Consulate General in New York and Consul General Emilio Fernandez of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., and PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista were at Terminal One of JFK International to welcome passengers of the maiden PR Flight 126 from Manila that included PAL Chairman Lucio Tan and to send off passengers for PR Flight 127.
“The US market continues to contribute significantly to total visitor arrivals in the Philippines and we’re confident that these expansion initiatives will lead to increased tourism traffic and business activities,” Ambassador Cuisia said during the ceremonies that were also attended by Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon; JFK Airport Deputy General Manager John Selden; and JFK Airport Terminal One Deputy Executive Director Rick Feltner.
According to Ambassador Cuisia, the US market contributes the second biggest arrivals in the Philippines with about 15 percent of total visitor volume based on figures from the Department of Tourism. He said that last year, passenger arrivals from the US reached over 600,000.
“It is my wish that with PAL’s expansion, business and travel for pleasure to the Philippines will be further heightened. The tourism industry’s contribution to the nation’s economy is in the tens of billions of dollars and we are very much aware of the income generated for business and households, employment and revenue from taxation. Thus, PAL’s success is the nation’s success,” Ambassador Cuisia added.
Among those who welcomed the new service were members of the Filipino-American Community in the East Coast, who took to social media to welcome the flight. A number of them said they will not only be promoting the new service but will also be taking PAL on their next visit to the Philippines.
“Some Filipinos from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Philadelphia have told the Embassy that they are willing to go all the way to JFK to take PAL even if they have the option to fly out to Manila from their respective gateways,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
PAL’s New York to Manila route transits via Vancouver and operates four times a week. Aside from New York, the carrier’s other US destinations are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.
PAL’s latest US route was part of a planned market expansion resulting from the upgrading in April 2014 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the country’s aviation safety rating. The FAA decision followed a review of the country’s procedures and facilities and restored the Category 1 safety status the Philippines had lost in January 2008.
In addition to starting new routes, the development also enabled the flag carrier to deploy its newer and fuel efficient Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A330 aircraft.
PAL first took to the skies in March 1941 using a twin-engine, five-seater Beech Model 18 aircraft from Nielsen Airfield in Makati to Baguio. PAL now serves 31 destinations in the Philippines and 36 overseas destinations in Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, North America and Europe.