Philippine Airlines eyes new aircraft for US, EU routes

Rappler.com
Philippine Airlines eyes new aircraft for US, EU routes

AFP

PAL places an order for over 70 aircraft, mostly from Airbus. The orders should double PAL's fleet to around 100 planes.

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines (PAL) is looking to bring in “new generation” Boeing and Airbus aircraft to complete its fleet renewal program, doubling its fleet to 100 planes.

According to PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, the airline is evaluating its next batch of orders after completing an order for over 70 planes.

Ang noted in a press conference that PAL is “in the process of evaluating the next batch of orders.”

“At the end of the day,” he said, “our aspiration is for PAL to operate at least 100 aircraft so there will be economies of scale.”

Ang said PAL already placed the order for over 70 aircraft, mostly from Airbus. The Airbus order, comprised of 35 units including 15 A330s, 14 A321s, and 6 A340 units, has been delivered.

He also said the next batch of orders would likely include some newer plane types, such as the Boeing 777-X and the Airbus A351. The Boeing 777-X has a flying range of around 17 hours and the A351 can fly for around 14 hours.

Along with the purchase of new planes comes the retirment of some of its fleet, with PAL retiring and selling 20 aging planes, including 4 Boeing 747 planes, 4 A340 planes, and 8 A330 planes. PAL used the Boeing 747 aircraft to serve various routes in the US, Europe, Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

PAL is preparing to set up additional flights to the US, including New York, Chicago, Florida, and other major cities. Ang added PAL is looking to use Tokyo and Korea as possible stopover points for flights to New York, Chicago, and Florida.

This follows the upgrade of the Philippines’ aviation status to Category 1 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) after being downgraded to Category 2 in January 2008.

PAL is now using Boeing 777 for Los Angeles flights, and will also use them it for San Francisco flights starting June. PAL will keep using Airbus A330-300 and A320-200 units for flights to Honolulu and Guam.

Ang said PAL was also pursuing flights to Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt after mounting direct flights to London last November. The European Union last year lifted a ban that prevented PAL from entering European airspace.

“It is now easy to fly anywhere in Europe, the US or any new destination. But we have to wait for the viability study for those destinations,” he clarified.

Ang is confident about PAL’s profitability for fiscal year 2014 after booking a net loss of over P11 billion in 2013. The amount included a P5 billion loss from the retirement of 20 aircraft.

“We reported a loss of $250 million from the write-off of the old aircraft last year so we are confident that PAL will be profitable this year,” Ang said.

Ang traced the optimism to brand new and fuel efficient aircraft and the launch of new destinations in the US and Europe. – Rappler.com

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