Philippine airlines in major route expansion to serve Mideast expats

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Philippine Airlines announced a major route expansion on Friday to better serve the army of Filipino expatriate workers in the Middle East.

As well as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, PAL added new routes to Australia, China and Malaysia as the company pursues a $10 billion fleet overhaul that will more than double its current fleet of 44 aircraft.

PAL president Ramon Ang said the push into the Gulf states starting in October would serve the region’s large Filipino workforce, which includes many domestic helpers, construction workers and medics.

“From UAE, for example, overseas Filipino workers can easily connect to other key cities or countries through PAL’s airline partners in the Gulf,” Ang said in a statement.

PAL’s route expansion comes with the Philippine government expressing hope that its aviation safety regime will soon pass audits by regulators in the United States and European Union.

The U.S. blacklist prohibits Philippine carriers from adding additional flights in the United States apart from their existing services. The EU bar prevents Filipino airlines from serving European routes at all.

The PAL group now serves 28 overseas destinations including four U.S. cities: Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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