There was something extra special with the flight PR223 that left Manila for the Western Australian capital of Perth at 12:05 in the early morning of 27th of March. Inside the cockpit, a pilot in command of the flight bore probably one of the shortest surnames.
That name, however, happens to be that of the most important person of the 82-year old airline company.
Captain Stanley Ng has not flown an aircraft regularly since his appointment as President and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the Philippine Airlines in January 2022.
The last memorable flight he did was on November 9 last year when he was was the Pilot-in-Command of the PAL flight that carried Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and the official Philippine Delegation to Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the ASEAN 2022 Summit.
The inaugural flight to Perth marked the return of Capt. Ng to commercial flights.
“I didn’t know if I miss flying until I was inside the cockpit,” Capt. Ng said when asked during the media conference at Westin Hotel Perth. “I feel more relaxed. But f course you have to be always aware and think of the people you are flying.”
He admitted felt strange at first.
“The flight was smooth except for some turbulence. And on the approach to the airport it was windy. The crosswinds were strong,” he said.
For the Manila-Perth flight, Capt. Ng flew the Airbus Neo A321 to a flight time of 6 hours and 30 minutes or half an hour early.
“When we landed I thought I should fly more,” he said as the room burst into chuckles.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) made history with the touchdown at Perth Airport of the first nonstop flight from the Philippines last March 27, 2023.
Captain Ng joined the airline in 2003 as an airport customer relations staffer. He then took his Ab Initio Cadet Pilot training at the PAL aviation school and joined the pilot roster as a Second Officer in 2006. He rose through the ranks, eventually serving as Chief Pilot of the PAL Airbus A320/A321 fleet.
He joined the flag carrier’s top management team as Senior Vice President of the Operations Group before his appointment to the position of President & COO in January 2022.
Capt. Ng is the first active pilot to serve as the top executive of the flag carrier since the 1960s, having ascended to the PAL presidency after an 18-year career in the airline.
The new PAL direct flights, a thrice weekly scheduled service operating into the Western Australian capital every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, allows travelers to fly between Perth and Manila in just seven (7) hours. This saves travelers four to six hours in travel time compared to flying via other airline routes that require a stopover and flight connections in a third country.
And if you are lucky to have Capt. Ng in the cockpit, it will be 30 minutes quicker.