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Philippine flag carrier gets go signal to fly over Russia
Publication Date : 25-07-2014
Philippine flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has obtained regulatory approval to fly over Russia for its Manila to London route to cut travel time by as much as two hours while steering clear of any conflict areas, according to a statement issued Thursday.
PAL, the only domestic carrier with direct flights to Europe, said the new route allows a flight from Manila to reach London in about 13 hours and 30 minutes from 15 hours and 30 minutes.
The new route flies over most of Siberia, Russia, which the carrier said was faster than the old path, which was over Asia, Turkey and then the European continent.
“The route, which does not overfly any conflict zone, is the quickest option between Manila and London allowing PAL to save on fuel consumption while offering a much better product to its passengers,” PAL said in the statement.
Siberia makes up nearly all of Northern Asia and while it covers 77 percent of Russia’s territory, the preferred airspace is nowhere near conflict and no-fly zones.
“Earlier, PAL allayed passengers’ fears following the tragic crash over Ukraine that it continues to strictly follow regulations on flight paths and complies with all safety advisories covering allowed flight routes, areas of restriction or conflict areas,” PAL said.
It was referring to a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane that was shot and crashed over Ukraine last week, killing all 298 people onboard.
PAL had long sought to use Russian airspace, which would make markets in Europe more accessible given the improving business prospects, PAL president Ramon S. Ang earlier said.
Increasing efficiency was a key component in the carrier’s strategy to return to profitability by 2015, Ang said.
He said the company was eyeing other European markets even as PAL earlier this month announced details on an expanded code share agreement with Etihad Airways for the Manila to Abu Dhabi route.
PAL, which is jointly owned by San Miguel Corp. and the group of taipan Lucio Tan, is in the midst of a massive refleeting strategy.
Newer planes are expected to bring about $120 million in annual fuel and maintenance savings, it said.