The story of Filipinas Orient Airways

  • There were a number of airlines that have left their mark on the history of Philippine aviation, such as Air Philippines, Zest Air, SEAir, Asian Spirit, and Skyjet. These airlines were a part of the country’s more recent aviation history. However, during earlier times, specifically in the 1960s and beyond, there were other airlines that commenced operations. These entities were later incorporated into Philippine Airlines due to the imposition of martial law, or they had to stop their operations entirely. One of these historical airlines was Filipinas Orient Airways.

    Filipinas Orient Airways, fondly known as “Fairways,” was one of the significant players in the Philippine aviation industry in the 1960s. This aviation entity, created in 1964 by the Karam family, originally from Lebanon, held the promise of an alternative air travel option to Filipinos and international passengers alike. Fairways became operational on January 5, 1965, utilizing DC-3 aircraft to kickstart its domestic flight operations. Despite facing strong legal opposition from Philippine Airlines, Fairways managed to carve its niche in the Philippine skies, thanks to Republic Act No. 4147, which granted the airline its franchise.

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    Bumpy Journey and Early Challenges

    The journey of Fairways was not a smooth one, with several notable incidents marking the early years of operation. Fairways’ history was marked by a series of mishaps involving four DC-3 and one DC-6 aircraft within the initial four years of its operations. Nonetheless, the airline pushed forward and expanded its fleet, introducing Sud Aviation Caravelles and Nord 262, which later made way for NAMC YS11.

    Fairways operated flights to a total of 18 locations, covering a cumulative distance of 4,459 kilometers.

    filipinas orient airways

    Facing Unforeseen Circumstances

    The year 1972 marked a significant turn in the trajectory of Fairways. The declaration of Martial Law by then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos led to an abrupt end to the flight operations of Fairways. As a result, Philippine Airlines stepped in, taking over both the aircraft and the operational routes of Fairways. This unforeseen circumstance presented a major challenge to Fairways, a hurdle that eventually led to the cessation of its services.

    Noteworthy Incidents

    During its operational years, Fairways experienced a number of unfortunate incidents, with six recorded in total, two of which resulted in fatalities. One significant event was the crash of Filipinas Orient Flight 60 on September 11, 1965. This scheduled flight from Lahug Airport, Cebu City, to Bacolod Airport, experienced a tragic accident that took seven days to locate the wreckage. The accident, caused by an error of judgment by the pilot to fly VFR into instrument meteorological conditions, resulted in a collision with the terrain.

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    A Remembrance of Filipinas Orient Airways

    The story of Filipinas Orient Airways, marked by both achievements and difficulties, contributes to the rich tapestry of the Philippine aviation sector’s history. Despite the obstacles and challenges it faced, Filipinas Orient Airways left an indelible mark on the landscape of Philippine aviation, adding a significant chapter to the story of air travel in the Philippines.

    As a fervent admirer of aviation, I am profoundly captivated by the narratives and histories of airlines that were once integral parts of the Philippine skies. Their contributions were significant and cannot be neglected, as they sculpted the robust and adaptable commercial aviation industry we have today. I am eager to share more insightful tales of Philippine aviation history in forthcoming articles.

    - Habe stets Respekt vor dir selbst, Respekt vor anderen und übernimm Verantwortung für deine Taten. - Dalai Lama

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