MANILA, Philippines – At least 12 new planes will be delivered this 2012 as local carriers seek to reduce costs, prepare for growing number of airline passengers and add new routes.
As part of their re-fleeting and expansion programs, legacy carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its hybrid budget arm AirPhil Express respectively expect six and four new planes this year.
Low-cost carrier South East Asian Airlines, Inc. (Seair), on the other hand, is expanding its fleet by 10 more aircraft in the next five years. Two are expected to be delivered in the coming months.
PAL is taking delivery of four Airbus A320s and two Boeing 777s, increasing its current fleet of 36.
“The four Airbus aircraft will arrive in March, April, November and December while the Boeing 777 is scheduled in June and November,” said PAL president Jaime Bautista.
PAL has a five-year reflecting program that involves replacing old aircraft nearing the end of their economic lives with newer ones that are more fuel efficient.
“This will provide us the avenue for bringing down unit costs and improve our ability to price more competitively. This will allow us to expand our presence in our current markets through increased frequencies and introduce new destinations especially in the booming Asian region,” PAL chair Lucio Tan earlier told reporters.
Meanwhile, PAL’s sister firm Airphil Express expects the delivery of two Airbus A320 this January 2012, another in February and another in March.
AirPhil has a $290 million capital expenditure budget that will finance its refleeting program as it intends to be a strong second player in the domestic travel sector, according to PAL senior assistant vice president and executive assistant to the PAL president Cesar Chiong.
Budget carrier and Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific leads the domestic market, which PAL used to dominate.
Seair, on the other hand, is expanding its current Airbus A320-only fleet to serve more routes and frequencies.
The two additional units will arrive in February and March and will serve the Cebu and Davao routes, said Seair president Avelino Zapanta.
Seair Inc. flies to Boracay, Batanes, Tablas (Romblon), Clark and Cebu. It also serves three international routes Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau from Clark.
A newly-formed airline, Seair International, will take over the airline’s turboprop operation, which comprises of Dornier 328s meant to service leisure travelers. Seair International is waiting for the airline operating carrier permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
These plans come in the heels of changes in the ownership structure of Seair.
Tiger Air, the budget carrier of Singapore Airlines, has signed an agreement to buy a 32.5% stake in Seair Inc. for $6 million.
A new group of investors called Triplestar Holdings has recently bought into the airline and are expected to infuse fresh funds needed for the expansion plans.
Triplestar is composed of the Lopez-Psinakis, Delgado and Consunji families, according to Zapanta. – Rappler.com