AUP's top PH aviation stories of 2020

Aviation Updates Philippines – It's a new year again. But here at AUP, we've been celebrating new years for the past 8 years already. The year 2020 has been a total setback in the ever-growing aviation industry in the Philippines and worldwide.

Nevertheless, 2020 started off pretty well, especially with the announcement of new routes and flight resumptions from almost all local carriers here in the country. 

Back in January, there were notable new flights we covered: Philippine Airlines announced the launching of eight new routes; South Korean low-cost airline start-up Fly Gangwon planned to fly Yangyang to Clark; Starlux Airlines to launch Taipei-Cebu; Philippines AirAsia relaunched Ho Chi Minh services; SkyJet Airlines to resume Manila-Siargao, among others.

AUP also first broke the news about the country's newest start-up airline — Sunlight Air. The airline exclusively revealed the first photos of their new aircraft to AUP in January, and informed us on their planned routes: Manila to Busuanga and Puerto Princesa.

The COVID-19 pandemic, thankfully, did not ultimately hinder their launch. On Christmas eve, Sunlight Air sent off its inaugural commercial service, operating a flight from Manila to Busuanga.

Speaking of COVID-19, it was on January 22, 2020, when AUP first reported about a certain contagious coronavirus spreading from mainland China. Our article covered that local airports have ramped up its screening against possible COVID-19 positives from China early on.

And two days later, the first round of flight suspensions because of this virus was reported. "CAB suspends flights from Wuhan, China amid coronavirus outbreak," the headline reads. From there, the travel bans widened from Wuhan, to the whole of mainland China, South Korea, and others.

Also, a step out of the negatives: it's also rightful to note that the much-awaited Boeing 777X performed its successful first flight during the first month of 2020. While the Boeing 737 MAX faced severe setbacks a year before, the FAA revoked the directive banning the MAX from flying in the last few months of 2020.

Without further adieu, here are our most read and trending stories in 2020.

1. Cebu Pacific sends several A321, A330 to Alice Springs for storage - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

The news about the multi-aircraft storage to Australia was a big hit to the readers. The story seemed like it was an indication of the worsening situation the travel and tourism industry in the country were in. However, not to fear, it was a actually a smart move for Cebu Pacific to protect their assets and to save on costs.

2. MIAA: NAIA loses P200 million amid flight suspensions - Joshua Noelson Cruz

Embed from Getty Images

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) reported on April 2020 that the airport has been losing money due to the stark reduction of flights over the summer. The country's three major airlines — Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia — announced the suspension of all domestic and international flights until April 30, 2020.

3. Airbus sells planes destined for AirAsia - Joshua Noelson Cruz

Airlines worldwide have been creatively thinking of ways to minimize costs as flight frequencies remain significantly low. Aircraft manufacturers are also affected by these decisions of airlines to not take up or cancel orders.

Reuters reported Airbus was selling four Airbus A320neo and two Airbus A321neo aircraft originally ordered by AirAsia Malaysia. These aircraft seats around 186 to 236 passengers in a single-class configuration.

4. PAL arrives in Miami - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

As part of the national flag carrier's commitment in bringing home our kababayans, PAL dispatched a Boeing 777-300ER from its fleet and flew direct from Manila to Miami, Florida. It broke records as the airline recorded its farthest route to fly, covering roughly 9,314 miles in distance.

5. PAL lands in Maldives for the first time - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

The year 2020 brought a lot of firsts for Philippine Airlines. And aside from that first direct flight to Miami, PAL also flew to Male, Maldives for another humanitarian mission. As the national flag carrier, PAL felt it was its duty to bring home Filipinos to our country.

6. Emirates plans to resume flights to the Philippines, other destinations in July 2020 - Francis Dominic Tupue

Earlier, Emirates suspended a significant amount of flights from its global network, the Philippines included. In this May 2020 report, the Gulf airline indicated the resumption of flights from Dubai to Manila beginning July 1, 2020.

7. NAIA now closed as medevac flight crashes on take-off - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

Embed from Getty Images

On March 2020, an IAI-1124A Westwind (with registry RP-C5880) crashed on take-off, killing eight passengers and crew members on a medical evacuation flight to Tokyo, Japan. Emergency responders immediately attended to the fire.

The crash resulted to the closure of Manila's Runway 06/24 — the sole runway available at that time since Runway 13/31 was converted into a temporary aircraft parking area.

8. Emirates to fly A380 to Clark on August 19 - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

Some exciting news for this year. Emirates sent an Airbus A380-800, the world's largest passenger aircraft, to Clark, Pampanga for a one-off commercial flight in August 2020. The flight celebrated the 30th year of Emirates' presence in the Philippines.

9. Cebu Pacific set to restart more international flights - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

Embed from Getty Images

As the COVID-19 pandemic virtually halted all flight activities in the region, Cebu Pacific, in a July 2020 report, was inclined to relaunch international flights in August 2020. The news follows the recent resumption of Manila-Dubai flights a week earlier.

10. PAF Blackhawks arrive in PH - Dirk Andrei Salcedo

And to top-off our top 10 list of AUP's trending stories of the year 2020: the Philippine Air Force received its first batch of the Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk in November 2020. The arrival of these brand-new combat utility helicopters marked the gradually improving capabilities of the PAF.

The PAF also received a new Gulfstream G280 command and control aircraft, and six Embraer A-29 Super Tucano attack and counter-insurgency aircraft.

A year-end message

The year may have been a rollercoaster ride for all us but it has been a great year for realizations and lessons. The aviation industry faced multitudes of stumbling blocks in the past year. Let us continue to pray for 2020 to be a year of recovery and healing.

For our readers and followers who supported us all the way, we thank you sincerely. Here's to more amazing news this 2021! *Cheers*