On Monday Philippine Airlines repatriated 184 Kiwi passengers from Manila.
The Airbus A350-900 flight to Auckland was an extraordinary service in many respects. As one of the newest additions to the fleet, it marked the first operation of this aircraft type by Philippine Airlines to New Zealand.
However the most striking new addition to the airline was within the cabin. In response to the Covid-19 crisis, air staff were wearing the new cabin uniform. Incorporating full body coverage and accommodation for PPE, it's not your average flight dress.
Created by Filipino designer Edwin Tan, the dressmaker was given a brief of creating protective suits that were both "fit and functional" to the cabin crew members' duties.
Worn for the entirety of the 10-and-a-half hour flight from Manila to New Zealand, they are a reflection of what may be a new norm for long-haul services.
The airline said this protective design will be part of the crew uniform as long as it is deemed to be necessary.
"The detail is a subtle branding for PAL. We didn't have time to print or embroider the logo, so we came up with the idea of mimicking or reworking the 'flag' logo of PAL," said Tan.
As one of the first flights to use the new uniform which was designed with protection and combating the transfer of pathogens in mind. The skies may be no less friendly but they have become a lot less comfortable for cabin staff.
"We used a non-porous material for the PPS, A material with substantial weight to give it better fall than generic PPEs," said Tan.
They incorporate gloves, long sleeves, a calf-length apron, tightened collars, cuffs and a visor.
They could well be the world's first designer PPE uniforms for cabin staff.
Unlike medical scrubs and PPE these reusable uniforms will not be single-use.
The airline said crew have been issued with a the protective uniforms "along with a special bag that it gets put into after use to take home to wash - with instructions on washing."
Flight crew are also issued with disposable PPE as well.
Philippine Airlines has cancelled all scheduled flights – domestic and international – until the beginning of May, however repatriation flights will continue out of Manila with these uniforms.
A spokesperson for the airline confirmed all 184 passengers were holders of New Zealand passports of permanent residents and were required to undergo the appropriate quarantine requirements on arrival to Auckland.