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PAL postpones launch of Manila-Sapporo flights after strong earthquake in Hokkaido

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AFP

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) is pushing back the launch of its Manila-Sapporo flight to October, after Hokkaido was hit by an earthquake on Thursday.

“Due to a strong 6.7 earthquake which hit Hokkaido early this morning resulting in power outages and blocked roads, PAL will be postponing the original Sept. 10 launch of its Manila — Sapporo — Manila route to a new date — Oct. 8,” the flag carrier said in a post on its official Facebook page.

Reuters reported at least four people were killed and 33 were missing, after a 6.7-magnitude quake struck Japan’s northern island Hokkaido before dawn on Thursday.

PAL said customers who bought tickets to Sapporo scheduled between Sept. 10 to Oct. 7 may rebook their flights free of charge within 30 days from Oct. 8.

“PAL will endeavor to rebook affected passengers on the next available flight dates. Passengers with contact details on their PNRs (Passenger Name Records) will be sent notifications via e-mail and/or call-out and/or text message/SMS,” the statement added.

The flag carrier announced in July its plans to fly to Sapporo because of the rising demand from Filipinos to fly to Japan.




“Last year, we carried almost half a million passengers [to Japan] with our 89 weekly flights. With the introduction of Sapporo, this will result to more passengers going to Japan. So we’re expecting more than 500,000 next year,” PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said then.

PAL was scheduled to fly to Sapporo thrice weekly. The capital of Hokkaido is PAL’s sixth destination in Japan. It currently offers flights to Fukuoka, Osaka (Kansai), Nagoya (Chubu) and Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), with chartered flights to Okinawa island.

PAL has also has cancelled flights to and from Osaka until Sept. 12, as the Kansai International Airport remained closed for repair and rehabilitation.

The airport’s facilities and access roads suffered extensive damage due to flooding caused by Typhoon Jebi.

“A total of 55 PAL flights to/from Osaka have now been cancelled since Sept. 3 due to Typhoon Jebi, affecting all routes between Osaka and Manila, Cebu and Taipei,” the airline said.

PAL Holdings, Inc. reported its net attributable loss from January to June rose 7.19% to P1.398 billion from last year’s P1.304 billion due to higher losses in the first quarter.

Mr. Bautista told reporters in June that the company is hopeful to end the year with a “modest profit,” as it seeks to impose a fuel surcharge, having made an application at the Civil Aeronautics Board. — Denise A. Valdez