I recently traveled from Manila to London on PAL Airlines and found the plane to be only a third fall of passengers. PAL launched the service late 2013 with a very competitive price and what made this even more exciting was the fact that there were no other direct flights to London from Manila at all.
A few years ago airlines like Lufthansa and Quantas along with BA would all fly direct from London Heathrow airport through to Manila. This made the Philippines accessible as the travel to Thailand. The flights were very busy and the passengers kept coming. However the airport started to get greedy and upped the costs for the companies using Manila and they even put a tax on the air crew when using accommodation in the Philippines. The result of the greed was that one by one the big airlines pulled out of Manila and thus this caused a ripple affect in “real” holiday makers coming to the Philippines. I say real as for many years the Philippines counts many OFWs as holiday makers in their figures.
So with the big players not using Manila from many European hubs the only way to get to the Philippines from London was to stop off somewhere. This made the journey annoying and longer with many hours spent in terminals waiting for connecting flights. Try staying in Bahrain for six hours without a drink for example or spending time in China with many unfriendly police along with that Chinese charm school training.
After a few years PAL wanted to plug the gap and managed eventually to pass the strict safety and maintenance checks enforced by Europe, which would allow PAL planes to fly over and land in Europe. So by the Philippines causing the problem a few years before they had now solved it, be it by using their own national carrier.
My trip to the UK was from Terminal 2 in Manila, which is by far the most pleasing of the terminals and the most cleanest too. I walked through to the main hall found my flight desk and checked in within two minutes. I thought at first I had missed one of those updates saying my flight had been moved or cancelled as there was NO ONE queuing at all. The lady at the desk stated that the flight only had a few people on it and she would BLOCK of the seats around me so I could sleep on the plane. I was incredibly happy with that but considerably surprised that the PAL flights were not overflowing with customers. The clerk informed me that this was normal from and to Manila.
I spent 15 hours laid out across three seats and even managed to sleep a few hours. The flight was comfortable, but I cannot say the food served was to my taste, but I am sure some people think corned beef is a good meal to serve passengers. The food was my only moan as the plane was so empty that I sometimes could not see or hear any passengers.No need for those ear plugs at all.