FOUR-STAR Philippine Airlines (PAL) is scheduled to fly to Blagnac airport in Tolouse, France, with a delegation of top airline and aviation executives, including members of the media, to bring home to Manila its brand new A350-900XWB flagship on July 14.
The delegation, consisting of 15 PAL executives, is headed by Chairman and Chief Executive Lucio Tan and PAL President and COO Jaime J. Bautista.
Also with the group are 20 journalists, six cabin attendants and four veteran pilots. They will leave the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on July 10, aboard a B777.
PAL Spokesman Cielo Villaluna made the announcement, adding Airbus pilots successfully conducted the first test flight for PAL’s first Airbus A350-900, taking off from the assembly plant at Toulouse airport on June 7.
“The ultra-modern aircraft, due for delivery in mid-July, will be deployed on long-haul routes to Europe and the North American East Coast,” she said.
The PAL delegation will first fly 13 hours nonstop from Manila to London’s Heathrow Airport and stay overnight at nearby Saint Giles Hotel.
At noon the next day, the mission will board a British Airways A320 for the one-hour, 50-minute flight to Tolouse. This protocol is required because PAL has no regular flight to Paris, Villaluna said.
During the next two days, Tan’s delegation will visit the Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes, a town in southwestern France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. Each year, millions visit the Grotto of Massabielle (Grotto of the Apparitions) where, in 1858, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a local woman.
On July 13 the group will tour the Airbus facilities, including the mock-up center, the A350 final assembly line, followed by a preview of PAL’s new A350-900XWB.
The factory plant stands on a 700-hectare area, formerly an abattoir, employing thousands.