2/26/1970: Philippine Airlines is Founded

2/26/1970: Philippine Airlines is Founded

DALLAS — Today, in 1941, Philippine Airlines (PR) was founded as Philippine Air Lines. The flag carrier changed to its current name in 1970.

The airline is Asia’s first and oldest commercial carrier, operating under its original name. It is headquartered at the PNB Financial Center in Pasay.

PR Douglas DC-3. Photo: Bill LarkinsCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Airline Foundation


Philippine Air Lines, Inc. was officially incorporated on February 26, 1941, by a group of businessmen led by Andrés Soriano, Sr. He was hailed at the time as one of the leading industrialists in the Philippines and served as the airline’s general manager. The Philippine Aerial Taxi Company, Inc. franchise was purchased by Soriano and former Senator Ramón J. Fernández and renamed Philippine Air Lines. 

On March 15, 1941, the airline made its first flight with a single Beechcraft Model 18 NPC-54 on a regular service between Manila (from Nielson Field) and Baguio. On its maiden flight, it carried two pilots and five passengers. 

The five passengers were the founders of the airline – Soriano, Fernández, Juan Miguel Elizalde, John R. Schultz, and Ernesto Von Kaufmann. Six months after the airline’s maiden flight, government-backed investment paved the way for PR’s nationalization.

Photo: Yifei Yu/Airways

Financial Crisis


Formerly one of the largest Asian airlines, due to the Asian financial crisis of 1997, PR was forced to downsize its international operations in what became one of the Philippines’ most significant corporate failures. At the time, the flag carrier had to cut flights to Europe and the Middle East and nearly all domestic flights except routes operated out of MNL. 

In addition, PR had to decrease its fleet size and lay off thousands of employees. As a result of the crisis, the airline was placed under receivership a year later, and operations were eventually restored to several destinations. Following PR’s departure from receivership in 2007, it embarked on periodic management revamps.

Philippine Airlines monopolized the country’s air travel industry for over 20 years. This ended in 1995 with the passing of Executive Order No. 219, allowing new airlines to join the industry.

Philippine Airlines (RP-C9928) Airbus A321-231(WL). Photo: Kochan Kleps/Airways

Operations and Fleet


Philippine Airlines serves domestic destinations across the Philippines via its ‘PAL Express’ subsidiary, while the mainline carrier flies to various overseas destinations across Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, North America, and Europe from its hubs at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila, Clark International Airport (CRK) in Angeles, Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB) in Cebu, and Francisco Bangoy International Airport (DVO) in Davao. 

The carrier operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with the Airbus A320, Airbus A321, Airbus A321neo, Airbus A330, Airbus A350, and Boeing 777-300ER in operations.

Philippine Airlines is owned by PAL Holdings, a holding company responsible for the airline’s operations. PAL Holdings is, in turn, part of a group of companies owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan. ANA Holdings, the holding company of All Nippon Airways (NH), has a 9.5% stake in PAL Holdings.


Featured Image: PR Boeing 777-300ER (RP-C7772). Photo: Michal Mendyk/Airways

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