Japan's biggest airline ANA 'in talks' to invest in PAL
MANILA, Philippines – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) confirmed on Wednesday, January 23, that it is in talks with Japan's biggest airline for a deal that may expand PAL's international presence.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported late Tuesday, January 22, that ANA Holdings, the parent firm of Japan's All Nippon Airways, was "nearing a deal" to take a minority stake in PAL Holdings.
Nikkei Asian Review, citing sources, said ANA Holdings plans to acquire a roughly 10% stake in PAL, following the former's acquisition of an 8.8% stake in Vietnam Airlines in 2016.
"We confirm that talks are ongoing with possible strategic investor/s but we have nothing final to report at this point," PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a statement on Wednesday.
"We will make the appropriate announcement at the proper time," she added.
The flag carrier clarified to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday that there is "no definite agreement" yet with any firm, but maintained that it has "always been open to the possibility of a strategic investor."
PAL Holdings closed at P12.74 per share on Wednesday, from P9.75 when it opened.
Ramon Ang-led San Miguel Corporation used to control 49% of PAL, until Lucio Tan's group bought back the shares in 2014. The Tan-led PAL announced weeks later that it was eyeing foreign investors to help manage the then-struggling airline.
Later that year, PAL and ANA inked an agreement covering code share and frequent flyer programs.
In 2015, PAL Holdings president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said they were targeting to have a foreign investor by 2017, which would effectively help them achieve the most coveted 5-star airline rating from London-based Skytrax.
Fast forward to now and talks are still ongoing.
ANA, Japan's largest airline, was founded in 1952 and has had a 5-star airline rating since 2013. It has a fleet of 260 aircraft and carried 53.8 million passengers in 2017. ANA was also recognized as Airline of the Year thrice in the past 10 years.
PAL is upgrading its fleet until 2024 as it aims to become a 5-star airline. At the moment, it is the Philippines' first and only 4-star airline.
PAL recently expanded its services to other key cities in Southeast Asia and launched long-haul flights to New York. Aircraft expected to join the PAL fleet in 2019 include two more Next-Generation Q400s, two A350s, and two more A321neos. – Rappler.com