Photo © Mel Lawrence
Photo © Mel Lawrence
Many of you may not know this but the first Asian airline to fly between Asia and the Americas was Philippine Air Lines.
Philippine Airlines at the time was one of the most advanced carriers of the region for many reasons. Due to American influence, after WWll and the Japanese invasion to the islands, the Philippines had a larger and more developed economy than that of Japan.
The airline became the first in Asia to fly accross the pacific ocean when it won a contract from the U.S. military to transport American troops back to the U.S. mainland after the war. It was in that form that San Francisco became a destination for the first Asian airline to the United States. Pan American World Airways and Northwest Orient Airlines were the only other option for passengers in the days.
Philippine Air lines, later extended its Manila-Honolulu-San Francisco service to Mexico City. It was the airline's CEO's vision for PAL to become a world class airline with a route map resembling the likes of Pan American World Airways, BOAC, and Air France. For that matter, Philippine Airlines also set on connecting Manila and the capital of its former colonial governor Spain.
The Mexico City route, was a rather interesting one. It was the desire of the Philippine government and PAL's chairman of the time to re-establish links between the newly independent Philippine nation and Mexico. For a period of more than two and half centuries (during Spanish colonia rule) the two nations traded and exchanged with one another with the famous Manila gallons to the point that throughout this time period the Philippine Islands were under the government of Mexico City (in what was then no such thing as a country called Mexico, but a colonial territory called New Spain). There was no direct contact between Spain and Manila as everything in between the two points was taken by the other colonial powers.
At the time, Philippine Air Lines was also the only carrier flying between San Francisco and Mexico City. Mexicana's golden Aztec route at the time only went as far north as Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the Philippines would go through political turmoil by the late 1950s, and the PAL was directly affected by this. PAL stopped flying all of its international routes to Europe and North America. The Pacific wouldn't be crossed again until the late 60s or early 70s.
Many of you didn't know this, but Philippine Airlines one day flew to Mexico City.