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February 6, 2008

PHILIPPINES/AVIATION
PAL earmarks $86mn for fleet renovation

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has allocated P3.5 billion (US$86 million) in funding for the renovation of its long-range wide-body fleet by reconfiguring its passenge cabin from a tri-class tobi-class layout.

In a statement, PAL said five Boeing 747-400 and four Airbus A340-300 aircraft will be renovated, with the implementation to be conducted in phases, with the first aircraft sporting the new interiors in June 2008.

The entire program is due to be completed by the last quarter of 2009.

"During the transition period, from now until the rollout of the last reconfigured aircraft, all B747-400 and A340-300 flights will be sold as bi-class flights," PAL said.

The project involves the installation of state-of-the-art in flight entertainment systems, new business-class and economy-class seats, and the infusion of a new, modern look that emulates the tranquil seas and sandy beaches of the Philippines.

The new Mabuhay Class cabin is luxurious cocoon seats supplied by Recaro of Germany. The new seat hasa fixed privacy shell that enables the passenger to enjoy utmost privacy while an ergonomic design transforms it into a lie-flat bed.

The seats are adjustable to a variety of positions. Each seat is equipped with its own programmable position controls with memory, individual directional LED reading light, oversized tray table and bottle holder.

The wide-body reconfiguration is part of the ongoing modernization program for PALs narrow-body fleet that features many of the same key elements Audio/VideoOn-Demand (AVOD) technology, German-made Recaro seats, and tropical-themed cabin interiors.

Apart from the interior upgrade, PAL will also implement a personalized in-flight meal service in Mabuhay (Business) Class, called One by One. The new approach is an a la carte service where passengers can select their own meal from a variety of choices.

Each dish is exquisitely plated by the cabin crew, giving every meal a distinctive and tailored touch, in the tradition of fine-dining restaurants. "The move is intended to address the growing popularity of business-class service and the competitive pressures to upgrade the service," the company explained.

The US Federal Aviation Administration recently downgraded the Philippines' rating from Category 1 to Category 2 after the Air Transportation Office failed to comply with the six out of seven safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Under Category 2, PAL is barred from increasing flights to the U.S. and its territories and is not allowed to change the type or number of aircraft used on these routes.

Courtesy PNA

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