Flag carrier Philippine Airlines has launched its first ultra-long nonstop flight from Toronto, Canada to Manila, the first-ever crossing of the North Pole region by a Filipino airline.
PAL flight PR119 took off from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at 12:53 a.m. local time Dec. 17, arriving Manila the next day at 6:10 a.m. after a 16-hour journey across the Arctic Region.
PAL spokesperson Ma. Cielo Villaluna said the historic flight was led by airline Vice President for flight operations Captain Florendo Jose Aquino III, together with Captain Raymond Casambre, First Officer Paul Domingo, and Second Officer Jhonathanne Hizon.
The state-of-the-art 370-seater Boeing 777-300ER with registry number RP-C7779 flew 7,200 nautical miles (13,300 kilometers) and traveled over Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Circle, Russia, Mongolia and parts of China. The flight was conducted at cruising altitudes ranging from 29,000 to 37,000 feet.
“This was the first nonstop direct flight from Toronto to Manila over the polar region. Kudos to the PAL team which made this flight a reality and most importantly, congratulations to our PAL flight deck crew under the leadership of Capt. Chuck [Aquino]. You make us proud,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime J. Bautista proudly said.
PAL decided to shift to direct nonstop service via the polar route to cut down the total traveling time between Toronto and Manila.
The carrier used to operate flights between the two points with a stopover in Vancouver, a longer routing that resulted in a combined flying and ground time of 21 hours. This new route cuts traveling time by 4.5 hours, a saving that translates to greater convenience for passengers.
PAL will operate these nonstop Manila-Toronto and Toronto-Manila flights regularly, four times weekly, with departures from Manila every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and departures from Toronto every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
At present, the long-range B777 is the fleet for the polar route. The ultra-long-range Airbus A350s, which will be delivered starting 2018, will also serve the route.
Passengers of this first polar route experienced PAL’s signature “Heart of the Filipino” service, inflight entertainment, WI-FI connectivity and the comfortable seats and spacious cabins of the Boeing 777, the company said.
The all-Filipino cabin crew of PR119 comprised 14 flight attendants and stewards headed by veteran Purser Gladys Santos.
The new nonstop Toronto service is the latest time-saving routing enhancement employed by the flag carrier.
In recent months, PAL converted one-stops to nonstop flights in routes to Auckland (New Zealand), Kuwait, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Doha (Qatar), eliminating the respective en route stops in Cairns, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
PAL plans to follow up with another polar crossing service on an even longer nonstop route (over 17 hours): from Manila to New York (JFK Airport) and from New York to Manila, using the A350 aircraft, within the second half of 2018.