PAL Flying High for 50 Years by Benjie de Ubago

October 6, 1965, the engines of a DC8 plane roared at the Manila International Airport, taxied the tarmac, accelerated down the runway and Philippine Airlines (PAL) leaped to the skies making its inaugural flight to Sydney, Australia.

On board, the maiden flight to Sydney was first lady, Evangeline Macapagal and her daughter, Gloria Macapagal. On board the return trip was Australia’s Minister of Interior, Mr., Anthony and his wife, Mrs. Anthony, along with the wife of NSW Premier, Mrs. Atkins. The inaugural flight also boasts of the first in-flight entertainment.

The flight marked closer ties between Australia and the Philippines forging better bilateral relations between the two countries.

That’s been 50 years since Philippine Airlines took to the skies connecting the Philippines and Australia.  Philippine Airlines celebrated the milestone event last October 6 at Ivy towers, Sydney with a small group of friends and associates, to include Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis and Consul Marford Angeles, travel industry people, and selected members of the Filipino community and media. Marlissa Punzalan took to the centre stage as the special guest entertainer.

Flying from the Philippines was President and CEO, Mr. Jaime Bautista and his PAL companions. “We’re looking forward to the next 50 years, “said Jaime Bautista, CEO of Philippine Air Lines. “ “We’re about to introduce daily flights to the Philippines and a few more destinations” he adds.

Fifty years in Sydney, 74 years since it was founded in 1941, it’s Asia’s first airline. Through the years, PAL has played an important role in the lives of Filipinos. More than just bringing families and loved ones together, they have provided humanitarian assistance, such as mercy flights for overseas workers stranded in the Middle East to providing relief assistance for typhoon victims.

Despite experiencing a little turbulence some years, Philippine Airlines has proven its staying power, by recording the biggest airline turnaround of the year in 2007. PAL’s ownership has passed through the hands of Andres Soriano in 1941 to Benigno Toda Jr. in the 60s, to Lucio Tan, to San Miguel Corporation and back again to Lucio Tan, who continues to remain on the Board. Of equal importance are those who played important roles in the PAL operations in Sydney like Mr. Mike Garcia, Mr. Arnul Pan and now holding the reins for PAL, Mr. Ian Robinson.

Now flying to 36 city destinations in the Philippines and to 30 countries, PAL continues to fly high and it continues to fly proudly as the nation’s flag carrier. So, fasten your seat belts, PAL’s in for the long haul. (

Updated: 2015-11-02 — 18:22:59