It’s always good to be able to write about our local airlines here in the Philippines … especially when things just seem to be improving. I learned something in some sort of Principles of Management course that said most managers make the mistake of telling their workers all their strong points and then souring the moment by throwing out a "but you could do better ‘zinger’" at the end of the conversation. I’ve been guilty of that often myself, so let me try to bring this little update into good management standards.
Philippine Airlines: This is the national airline of the Philippines and is both an international and important domestic carrier. I’m pretty sure many will have read that last month the US FAA placed PAL on it’s special ‘watch list’ of carrier who are not living up fully to FAA standards. This mainly involved problems here in the Philippines with the ATO (Air Transportation Office) an arm of the Department of Commerce which most closely corresponds with the FAA’s role in the United States. It caused a tremendous ‘smoke and light’ show here in the government, with the president firing the head of the ATO and a whole lot of head shaking and finger pointing going on. Not much else transpired, though. Will the problems get fixed soon? I wouldn’t bank on it. But the issues don’t really have any direct safety implications and in my view, PAL is as safe to fly as ever … so don’t go canceling your tickets and postponing your trip just because of what mainly amounts to bureaucratic wrangling. If you’re a regular reader (and if you aren’t may I ask you to subscribe, please?) you’ll know that PAL is not one of my recommended carriers anyway, especially since my last trip on them, so you really should be buying your tickets on another airlines … in my opinion.
OK, that’s all the bad stuff. Some good news is due, and here comes some:
Pacific Pearl Airways is the newest airline in the country, based in Subic Bay Free Port in Zambales. They are the first passenger airline to operate in Subic. Starting last December 19 regular flights from Subic to Boracay (via Kalibo), Davao, Cebu and Manila were initiated. One can fly direct from Subic to Davao using the B737-200 Advance aircraft. for reservations call or text: Manila: 02.879.3375, Globe: 0916.383.1545, Subic: 047.252.8312, Smart: 0918.524.0608. I haven’t yet flown these guys so this is for information only, but I certainly welcome competition and it is great that someone is now serving Subic (the former US Navy base). The airport there is well equipped and Subic is close to some great beach resort areas that are nowhere near as crowded as the better known places down south, like Boracay. My friend Bob will no doubt be happy to see yet another airline offering direct service to Davao as well.
SEAIR (South East Asian Airlines) is a local carrier I haven’t written about before. based in Cebu, they have been around a few years now and fly mainly 32 passenger turboprops to many of the Philippines smaller tourist destinations. Again a company I haven’t used, but they have a good reputation and I’m bringing them up here now because they are yet another airlines that is now serving Clark. I’m really happy to see all the activity there, Clark is going to be a very important hub as time goes on and it is so refreshing to see airlines taking the big step of not serving the over-crowded, tourist-hostile NAIA. Any day you can fly somewhere and bypass NAIA is a good day for flying to me.
Cebu Pacific. hardly a newcomer to this site, I’ve written often about Cebu Pacific and they are hands-down my favorite carrier in the Philippines. Today I’m updating them because boy, have they been busy. Just a few months ago they added quite a few new international routes and now more are opening up. Of particular interest are direct South Korea and Hong Kong flights to Cebu and Davao. All the more well know international carriers have their problems with serving the Philippines from their major hubs, like Hong Kong. With these locations being served by Cebu pacific now it makes a lot of sense to book flights to Hong Kong on a transpacific carrier and then book your final Philippines destination via Cebu Pacific … possibly avoiding an overnight in dear old Manila and other travel trials and tribulations. Recommended.
No more excuses, fly and have fun!