By Emmie V. Abadilla
Training cabin crew and employees to deliver the desired customer experience is a vital ingredient of Philippine Airlines (PAL)’s goal to achieve its 5-star airline status by the end of next year, according to President and COO Jaime J. Bautista.
“We will continue to improve the training program for our people, invest in new technology, acquire new airplanes, introduce Wi-Fi connectivity and new in-flight entertainment content to achieve our goal.”
PAL’s three-pronged strategy of fleet upgrades, route expansion and service innovation is not a quick fix but a multi-year top-to-bottom re-invention of the airline, he pointed out.
The focus is the passenger and extending total passenger care at every customer touch-point, while managing expectations at every step of the journey.
Already, top airline rating agency Skytrax has ranked the flag carrier as second “Most Improved Airline” in the world, based on travelers’ votes, in July, 2018, after achieving a 4-Star Global rating earlier.
To upgrade and transform its core technology systems, PAL partnered with Amadeus, adopting the latter’s complete Passenger Service System to improve all core passenger processes, including reservation, inventory, departure control, as well as flight management.
The transformation means its customers will enjoy a smoother experience from booking to boarding. Travelers can enjoy faster and simpler check-in for travelers, disrupted passengers can be re-accommodated in seconds.
The flag carrier is also acquiring 6 new aircraft this year consisting of two A321neos, two A350-900 and two Q400 to expand its fleet to over 100 aircraft.
The airline will also improve its on-time performance and apply customer preferences at every touch point.
To date, PAL flies to 42 international and 36 domestic destinations using 97 aircraft, one of the youngest fleets in the industry, with an average age of five years. Its international route network extends as far as New York to the East to NY and London to the West, covering two-thirds of the globe.
It will take delivery of six planes this year. In 2018, it has already taken delivery of 15 planes. At present, it has existing orders of 15 planes between 2019 to 2024.
Last year, PAL carried about 17 million passengers, with a load factor of almost 80 percent. For 2019, the airline targets 19 million passengers, with load factor of 82 per cent.
Just this week, PAL ramped up its operations in the Asian region by launching new routes to Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and New Delhi (India) from its Manila hub, for the summer.
“Our strategic vision is to make the Philippines a true gateway to Asia,” according to Bautista.
“We are the Southeast Asian airline with the biggest and most extensive network of direct flights to the US and Canada, and thus we can be the leader in carrying North American travelers to India, Cambodia and Vietnam via our Manila hub.”
“We will leverage Manila’s excellent geographical location as an ideal stopover point for people flying to Southeast and South Asia from the East and West Coasts of North America.”
PAL currently operates 43 weekly flights nonstop from six North American destinations: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Honolulu and Vancouver.
This comprehensive network, flown by PAL’s latest-technology Boeing 777, Airbus A350 and Airbus A330 aircraft, will generate passenger travel flows into Hanoi, Delhi, Phnom Penh and other destinations in the ASEAN region and beyond. PAL also operates seven weekly flights from the US territory of Guam.
The flag carrier plans to service additional US cities as well as a handful of cities in Europe, such as Paris, Rome and Frankfurt.