“The future of the airlines lay in hauling people, not in hauling mail for the government.” Cyrus Rowlett Smith
By Alex P. Vidal
I agree with the observations made by fellow Filipino travelers and other nationalities, my co-passengers in various international flights, that the Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the best airline in the world.
PAL has the most well-trained and well-equipped flight crew and pilots. Their coordination makes life easier for passengers, especially the children, seniors and persons with disability. The crew’s PALa-smile trademark is also one of their most prized assets. Meals are delicious and amenities on board are world class and passenger-friendly.
There were occasions when impatient passengers would label PAL as “Plane Always Late” to express their frustrations over a delayed or canceled flight and late flight arrival, but it doesn’t mean all PAL flights — national and international — will produce high blood pressure for passengers.
Late and canceled flights also happen in other major airlines. There is myriad of reasons; from technical to weather, and sometimes due to some passengers’ late arrival to join the flight. Late departure can never be a culture of any airline. Safety is always a paramount concern.
Just like killing the goose that lays the golden egg, the European Union (EU) realized it goofed when it’s executive arm, the European Commission, blacklisted the Philippine Airlines (PAL), national flag carrier, in 2010 “to follow the principle of precaution” with regard to Philippine aviation conditions.
Banning Asia’s first airline and the best airline in the world is like banning McDonalds in New York or Jollibee in Metro Manila. Also banned from European destinations that year aside from PAL was a carrier from Sudan.
The ban on PAL came while the Philippines was smarting from losing its good standing with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which downgraded our country’s aviation safety standards from category 1 to category 2 in 2008. It meant PAL could not hope to expand in the US, its biggest market, where thousands of Filipino expatriates regularly travel and reside.
In July 10, EU lifted the ban after realizing that the country now has “improved safety oversight.”
“Taking into account the improved safety oversight provided by the competent authorities of the Philippines and the ability of carrier Philippine Airlines to ensure effective compliance with relevant aviation safety regulations, it was decided to lift the ban affecting this carrier,” the EU said in a statement read by EU ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux in a press briefing on Wednesday, July 10. “For all other carriers registered in the Philippines, the ban remains as further progress is still needed to reach effective compliance.”
A report from Rappler said in March, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) lifted this classification and announced that the Philippines had complied with internationally binding safety standards established by the 1944 Chicago Convention. The United Nations body acknowledged that after 5 years, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) finally accomplished the much-needed reforms.
CAAP and PAL appealed the ban before the EU committee in Brussels in April and again in the committee’s first meeting for the year held June 26.
President Ferdinand Marcos implemented a one-airline policy when he declared martial law in 1972 and PAL was the lone surviving airline, absorbing Air Manila and Filipinas Orient Airways. On March 10, 1973 PAL was re-designated as the national flag carrier and continued its expansion with the arrival of its first Douglas DC-10 in July 1974. Three years later, the Philippine government re-nationalized PAL, with the Government Service Insurance System holding a majority of PAL shares. In 1979, the Boeing 727, the Boeing 747-200B and the Airbus A300B4, dubbed the “Love Bus”, joined the PAL fleet, while the PAL DC-8 fleet was retired.