LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles World Airports plans to transfer gates assigned to Philippine Airlines to LAX’s Midfield Satellite Concourse, a move the airline said would triple the travel time from curb to gate and disrupt its customers’ travel experience.

Officials at PAL said more Filipinos live in Los Angeles than anywhere outside Manila, more than 600,000 according to the airlines, and PAL is the only carrier that offers nonstop flights from Manila to Los Angeles.

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“LAX’s decision to move PAL to distant gates is a hardship for our kababayans on both sides of the Pacific who have relied on PAL’s direct service from Los
Angeles to Manila for decades,” said Jose Perez de Tagle, vice president of corporate communications for Philippine Airlines, using the Tagalog word meaning fellow Filipinos, countrymen or town-mates.

The airline said their trial walks to the planned gates would increase travel time by 20 minutes because customers will have to cross the tarmac through an underground tunnel to reach the MSC, a boarding area that doesn’t have fully operational concessions or other amenities that long-haul international passengers expect.

They also said that one-third of their passengers are 59-years-old or over, and 28% of that group requests wheelchairs, potentially making it an even more difficult time getting to the planned gate.

“We strongly urge LAWA to reconsider,” carrier officials said.

According to PAL, officials informed the carrier that the transfer to MSC goes into effect on June 15.

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Philippine Airlines is appealing, asking for a permanent reversal of the grate transfer and is working with airport and city officials to get an extension beyond June 15 during the appeal process.

“Even as the pandemic raged, we sustained our vital air links to the Fil-Am community,” Perez de Tagle said. “PAL was the biggest Asian carrier in terms of passengers to and from LAX from July 2020 to March this year.”

The airline said it wants to provide its passengers the best possible travel experience on nonstop flights to Manilla, adding in a statement that it will continue “rallying for their cause and welfare.”

In response to this matter, officials at LAWA provided the following statement:

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) strongly values its longstanding relationship with Philippine Airlines and the Filipino residents of and visitors to Los Angeles, and we look forward to providing an outstanding guest experience for Philippine Airlines passengers at LAX for many years to come. The West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal make up a brand new a state-of-the-art facility with passenger amenities and services that will provide an excellent guest experience for passengers of the many international and domestic airlines that will operate there. Absent the new West Gates at Tom Bradley, it would be necessary for more flights to operate at the Remote Gates, to which Philippine Airlines flights routinely were assigned prior to COVID-19, and which provide a notably inferior guest experience and require busing of passengers. This new facility is connected with the Tom Bradley terminal via a pedestrian tunnel that provides direct access to the new gate areas. In addition to moving walkways and standard guest transportation services that the airlines provide for passengers who need special accommodations, the airport also has launched a new courtesy shuttle that provides electric carts to guests who choose to ride rather than use the moving walkways or walk.

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An earlier version of this story stated that LAWA was contacted for comment. However, they were not.