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FAA upgrade to boost Manila-US travel

Now the flight operations from Manila to more destinations in the U.S. are going to get a boost. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently upgraded Philippines once again to Category 1 status. A report made public by an aviation consultancy firm CAPA Center for Aviation said that the local airline operators in the Philippines stand to gain with more frequencies to the United States in future.

The FAA restored the Category 1 safety rating to the Philippines earlier in April 2014 after 6 years. The Philippines government made extensive efforts to satisfy the requirements of the FAA. Prominent Filipino carrier such as Philippine Airlines was adversely affected after the status downgrade to Category 2. This prevented the airline from operating and expanding operations in the United States as well as stopped new airlines entering the aviation market in the two countries.

The report said that the FAA upgrade has brightened the outlook for Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air and opened short-term opportunities for expansion. This also gives the two carriers opportunity to expand their operations in Europe and U.S. further. Currently, Cebu Pacific Air does not operate flights services to the United States. Philippine Airlines is however operating flights to Guam, Hawaii, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

According to the report, 700,000 Filipino expatriates are residing in European countries, while the United States has 3 million Filipinos residents.

The report further stated that the upgrade has come as a boon for Philippine Airlines now. The airline, which is flag carrier of Philippines, will now be able to save a substantial amount on jet fuel. The airline is planning to include fuel-efficient aircrafts like Boeing 777-300ERs in its fleet. The airline is also aiming at capitalizing with its new US-based partners. Philippine Airlines is presently into codeshare partnership with Virgin America and JetBlue Airways. Other U.S. carriers like Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines are mulling partnership with the airline.

The FAA upgrade will now allow Philippine Airlines to revive its flights services to key U.S. cities such as Chicago and New York within a year. Philippine Airlines will be getting less competition with the Middle East carriers as it is the only airline which is providing nonstop flights services to the U.S. west coast from Manila.

The report said that the flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco operated by Philippine Airlines had been lucrative. The load factor was at 75 percent except during the off-peaks months during September through December. The airline was not able to significantly grow in the U.S. market because of the Category 2 status during past 6 years. The airline now wants to aggressively focus on expanding its operations from here.

The report also stated that Philippine Airlines is expecting to launch flights to several European destinations in 2014. The airline currently has sufficient Airbus A340-300 aircrafts for starting flights services to one or two destinations within Europe. The report at the same time clarified that the airline may give top priority to new U.S. destinations over continental Europe.

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