May 12, 2014
PAL retires its flagship B747
In the 1970s, with the emergence of new airline companies, Philippine Airlines envisioned itself to be one of the best in Southeast Asia. To achieve this, PAL ordered four Boeing 747-200Bs to be deployed on the trans-Pacific service whose flight frequencies rose by 50 percent by 1978.
The first Boeing 747-200B, dubbed the Jumbo Jet, arrived in December 1979, taking over the trans-Pacific routes from the DC-10s on January 4, 1980. Three months later, all flights to the US used the B747-200s.
A unique feature of the PAL B747s was 14 full-flat bunk beds called "Skybeds" in the "Cloud Nine" upper deck. The Skybeds were paired with the number of seats in First Class. It revolutionized the way people fly, allowing passengers to sleep for the entire length of the flight, ensured safe with the installation of seatbelts in each bed.
The B747s were flown on routes to the US, Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia. On March 31, 1980, PAL returned to London, with four stop-overs, using the B747.
After 14 years, PAL acquired a newer, better version of the B747, the B747 series 400 that was able to fly farther. In November 1993, the first B747-400 landed at Subic Airport, carrying Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, on his way home from the APEC meeting at Seattle, USA, also site of Boeing assembly plant. With the B747-400, PAL was able to fly to the US mainland non-stop, which to this day is exclusive only to the Philippine flag carrier.
The venerable B747, the world's most popular long-range aircraft, was PAL's flagship for 35 years – the iconic symbol of the country which the flag carrier represents in foreign lands. In May 2014, the era of the B747 comes to a close, as they are replaced with more fuel-efficient and modern Boeing 777s.