PAL: We can compete in Middle East
ABU DHABI - A Philippine Airlines (PAL) executive dismissed apprehensions aired by some aviation experts that the airline would have a hard time competing with some “established” Arabic airlines as the flag carrier returned to the Middle East on October 1, starting with Abu Dhabi and using its newly acquired Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
“It’s not surprising we staged our comeback here in Abu Dhabi. Your dynamic city is one of the most influential in the region, a center of commerce, petroleum industry, culture and arts, education in the Arab world,” said Ismael Augusto S. Gozon, senior vice president for Airline Operations, who headed the delegation of the carrier’s first flight to Dubai.
Gozon was welcomed at the airport by Philippine Ambassador Grace Relucio Princesa, some Department of Tourism officials and Abu Dhabi airport executives. He said Abu Dhabi is a major destination that any airline would be proud to serve.
“This is not actually PAL’s first time to serve your city, we’re old friends as PAL flew here in June of 1992, or 21 years ago. Even then, Abu Dhabi was already an important travel point in our service between Manila and Europe, and between Manila and Saudi Arabia.”
“As you all know, PAL was established in 1941, so we ourselves are already an established airline and we’re here to offer a product to customers at value proposition, to be able to give them a product they deserve and at a price they are willing to bear.”
Obviously, there is always competition and that is always part of this business, Gozon said.
“But we embrace competition and that’s something that we have to deal with as we move forward in this market,” he added.
Gozon said PAL caters not only to Filipinos but to other international passengers who can be serviced through Manila.
Asked about PAL’s primary edge over its Middle Eastern competitors, Gozon replied: “We are a truly Filipino carrier with 100 Filipino staff and crew that offer a truly Filipino product for every passenger.”
“Filipinos are in the service industry and we at PAL try to showcase that kind of service regardless of where we are. That’s our showcase and advantage.”
There are 475,000 Filipinos in Abu Dhabi; some 25,000 of them are undocumented, Princesa said.
"Sixty percent of Filipinos here are professionals, 25 percent are semi-skilled and the remaining 15 percent are unskilled," she added.
PAL’s first brand-new A330-300 arrived in Manila on September 28, direct from the Airbus manufacturing plant in Toulouse, France. Four more will be delivered before the year ends.
Since March 2012, PAL has taken delivery of 17 airplanes—from the ultramodern B777-300ER and the long-range A340-300, to the single-aisle A320-200 and its latest derivative model, the A321-231. The PAL fleet, which now consists of 44 jets, will further expand, with more than 60 aircraft deliveries expected until 2019.
Gozon said each aircraft would have a specific destination and a specific utilization rate.