Philippine Airlines: Asia's First Airline
Philippine Airlines, Inc. (abbreviated PAL), also known historically as Philippine Air Lines, is t...
Philippine Airlines, Inc. (abbreviated PAL), also known historically as Philippine Air Lines, is the national airline of the Philippines. It is the first commercial airline in Asia and the oldest of those currently in operation, with a long and distinguished history spanning over seventy years. Out of its hubs at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City, Philippine Airlines serves eighteen destinations in the Philippines and twenty-six destinations in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, Canada and the United States.
Philippine Airlines was founded on February 26, 1941, making it Asia's oldest carrier still operating under its current name. The airline was started by a group of businessmen led by Andres Soriano, hailed as one of the Philippines' leading industrialists at the time, who served as its general manager, and former Senator Ramon Fernandez, who served as its chairman and president.
The airline’s first flight took place on March 15, 1941 with a single Beechcraft Model 18 NPC-54 on daily services between Manila (from Nielson Field) and Baguio.
PAL services were interrupted during World War II, which lasted in the Philippines from late 1941 to 1945. Upon the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 8, 1941, the two Model 18s and their pilots were pressed into military service. They were used to evacuate American fighter pilots to Australia until one was shot down over Mindanao and the other was destroyed on the ground in an air raid in Surabaya, Indonesia.
On July 31, 1946, PAL became the first Asian airline to cross the Pacific Ocean when a chartered Douglas DC-4 ferried 40 American servicemen to Oakland, California from Nielson Airport with stops in Guam, Wake Island, Johnston Atoll and Honolulu.