PAL, Etihad Airways in landmark tieup
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines (PAL) forged a partnership with Etihad Airways that is expected to benefit more than 700,000 Filipinos living and working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang and Etihad president and chief executive officer James Hogan signed Monday, April 28 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a comprehensive range of services.
The MOU covers code-sharing, frequent flyer reciprocity, airport lounge access, special pro-rate and air pass agreements, and cargo cooperation.
"We are very happy to seal this partnership with Etihad, a respected global carrier," Ang said.
He pointed out that the relationship would go a long way "in providing our combined customer base a much more enhanced set of travel options."
"This also comes at an opportune time for PAL which is in the thick of a fleet modernization and expansion program that will see the flag carrier pushing further not only into the Middle East but also on other parts of the globe using a modern fleet of aircraft," Ang added.
PAL embarked on a refleeting program, involving the acquisition of 100 aircraft. It already placed an order for 65 Airbus aircraft valued at $9.5 billion from the EADS Group.
PAL is set to retire 20 aircraft this year and replace them with brand new and fuel-efficient planes, bringing down the average age of its fleet to 3.5 years.
Increased tourism, trade
Ang said their landmark partnership would help grow the passenger and cargo markets of the Philippines and UAE, and foster closer diplomatic, trade and cultural ties.
“Closer collaboration in our home markets and in the global arena will enhance the competitiveness and appeal of our offering and deliver an unrivaled customer proposition in the UAE, in the Philippines and abroad," Ang added.
Hogan, for his part, said, "Etihad and Philippine Airlines have a history of successful cooperation on the Abu Dhabi-Manila route."
PAL and Etihad first entered into a code-sharing deal for the Manila-Abu Dhabi route in October 2010.
More than 700,000 Filipinos who live in UAE account for much of the traffic on the route each year.
Hogan said the partnership would provide more options for OFWs and bring more tourists to the Philippines.
“The Philippines is one of the world’s best kept secrets with great appeal to travelers from overseas. We are committed to working with the Philippine Airlines team and the Philippines tourism industry to bring more overseas visitors to their country and to increase the economic benefits of tourism," he said.
UAE is the Philippines' third-largest trading partner in the Middle East. Trade between the two countries amounted to $1.4 billion in 2013.
"Closer cooperation in the cargo arena, one of Etihad Airways’ most successful divisions, has the potential for a boost to each airline’s bottom line and to the economies of our two great nations," Hogan added.
Etihad launched services between Abu Dhabi and Manila with 4 weekly Airbus A330-200 flights in February 2006. Today, the airline offers twice-daily Boeing 777-300ER flights between the capitals. In 2013, the Abu Dhabi-Manila route was the airline’s second busiest route.
More long-haul flights
PAL is gearing up for more long haul flights to the US and Europe within the year.
The carrier is looking at flying to New York, Chicago and other major cities in the US after the US Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the aviation safety rating of the Philippines back to Category 1 from Category 2.
It is also eyeing to mount flights to Paris, Rome, Amsterdam after successfully launching direct flights to London last November. The European Union lifted a ban preventing the airline from entering the European airspace last year. – Rappler.com