PAL starts thrice weekly Manila-Sapporo route in September

By Richmond Mercurio | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is answering the growing clamor for direct flights to another popular Japanese destination as it is set to commence operating a Manila-Sapporo route starting Sept. 10.

The new PAL route will be the only nonstop air link between the Philippines and Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Sapporo will be the sixth Japanese destination served by PAL.

“This route to Sapporo is our latest initiative to sustain our momentum of transformation after becoming a four-star global airline,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said.

“Your flag carrier will initially fly nonstop to Sapporo three times a week, in response to the growing clamor from the public. We also want to promote tourist travel to the Philippines for the residents of Hokkaido,” he said.

The six-hour non-stop PAL service will operate thrice weekly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, landing at Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport and using the flag carrier’s brand new Airbus A321neo aircraft.

Bautista said once the new market matures, PAL would consider increasing the frequency of flights and upgrading aircraft to wider body airplane.

“Give us 18 months and hopefully in 18 months we will fly daily. From three times then we can improve and increase it to five and then seven,“ he said.

Sapporo is known for its skiing and annual Sapporo snow festival featuring enormous ice sculptures, along with a wide range of natural and cultural attractions that are popular tourist draws during the spring, summer and autumn seasons.

From Manila, PAL flies to Fukuoka, Nagoya (Chubu), Osaka (Kansai), and Tokyo (both Narita and Haneda airports). From Cebu, PAL operates flights to Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo Narita, while there are also daily PAL flights between Taipei and Osaka.

PAL said all these services translate to a total of 89 weekly flights between the Philippines and Japan, making it the airline with the largest route network in Japan from its two main hubs in Manila and Cebu.

“On our flights to Sapporo, PAL passengers can expect an ultra comfortable travel experience with the improved cabin and seat features of our new Airbus A321neo airplane, as well Wi-Fi connectivity and extensive inflight entertainment. As the country’s legacy carrier and the airline of choice for business travelers, in-flight comfort is crucial to passenger satisfaction,“ Bautista said.

“We are proud and excited to tap the range, power and superior comfort of the new A321neos to pioneer the world’s first Manila to Sapporo air route – truly, this new aircraft enables PAL develop new long-haul markets that were not previously accessible with older single-aisle aircraft,” he said.

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