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PIA Press Release

PGMA to welcome passengers on inaugural flight of PAL Express to Calbayog on Tuesday

Manila (14 July) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will personally welcome the first 76 passengers on the inaugural flight of the Philippine Airlines' low-fare, PAL Express, in Calbayog City, Western Samar on Tuesday (July 15).

The President, whose Super Regions development program includes the linking of the country via an efficient and cost-effective network of roads, ports and airports, expressed her desire to take part in PAL Express' inaugural event when she was told about it by Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento in an earlier meeting with her in Malacaņang.

With this option to reach this city known for its waterfalls now available to the public, trade, tourism and the local economy is expected to perk up.

PAL Express, the new, low-fares unit that Philippine Airlines launched on May 5, 2008, serves mainly domestic routes throughout the Philippines from hubs such as Cebu and Manila, as well as secondary routes to smaller airports in island provinces that cannot accommodate PAL's regular jet aircraft.

After initially servicing the Manila-Caticlan (Boracay) route, PAL Express now serves Bacolod, Tacloban, Butuan and General Santos.

The Express will operate with an initial fleet of nine turbo-propeller aircraft - three Bombardier Q300s and six Bombardier Q400s - manufactured by Bombardier Aerospace of Canada.

Both aircraft are part of Bombardier's "Q Series" of turbo-props - the Q standing for "quiet" due to a patented suppression system that reduces cabin noise and vibration levels well below those of jetliners.

The Q Series are equipped with two Pratt & Whitney turbo-prop engines with maximum ranges of 1,819 kilometers for the Q300 and 2,826 kilometers for the Q400.

Both airplanes have outstanding takeoff and landing capabilities even on unprepared airstrips, making them the ideal choice for PAL Express' services to small provincial airfields.

The Q300 cabin is configured with 50 seats at a comfortable 32-inch pitch, while the slightly larger Q400 seats 76 passengers at a 30-inch pitch, making for low seat-mile costs that are ultimately passed on to passengers in the form of low fares.

PAL Express will base its turbo-prop fleet mainly in Cebu, in order to better serve the growing intra-regional market in the Visayas and Mindanao.

While some flights will also operate out of Manila, especially in the initial phase, Cebu will be the focal point of turbo-prop operations as PAL re-establishes the city as its main hub in southern Philippines.

PAL operated a bustling Cebu hub for most of its 67-year history, when it was the sole airline mandated to provide air services to far-flung rural communities. As such, turbo-props were an integral part of PAL's fleet for decades.

When PAL entered receivership in 1999, however, its rehabilitation plan stipulated an all-jet fleet, forcing the airline to dispose of its last turbo-prop type, the Fokker 50, and close its Cebu hub.

With PAL's successful emergence from rehabilitation in Sept. 2007, resuming turbo-prop operations became a key priority, in keeping with the national carrier's historic mandate of serving outlying areas.

In this effort, the restored Cebu hub will play a central role, PAL said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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