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PAL eyes Airbus A350-1000 as plane marks 1st touchdown in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines Incorporated (PAL) set its sights on Airbus Group SE's newest wide-body jet, after the flag carrier joined the Manila tour designed to test the reliability of the A350-1000.

"It is one airplane we can consider. It is a bigger version of the A350-900," PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said on the sidelines of a demonstration tour in Pasay City on Thursday, February 15.

This is amid PAL's over $2-billion fleet modernization program, which would help the airline push its newly acquired 4-star airline status to 5 stars.

PAL's rival Cebu Pacific Air has "no plans" of acquiring the new Airbus jet, as it has "A321ceos (current engine option) and neos (new engine option) that will start coming in tranches by March," according to its spokesperson Charo Logarta Lagamon.

INTERIORS. A look at the interiors of the Airbus A350-1000. Photo by Chrisee dela Paz/Rappler

INTERIORS. A look at the interiors of the Airbus A350-1000.

Photo by Chrisee dela Paz/Rappler

The Airbus aircraft visit to Manila is part of a 3-week demonstration tour across the Asia-Pacific region. 

The A350-1000 is Airbus' latest and largest wide-body in the twin-aisle category. With a 74-meter-long fuselage, the A350-1000's space for premium cabin products is 40% larger than its smaller sibling, the A350-900.

Bautista said PAL can use the A350-1000 for its long-haul flights like Los Angeles in the United States, as well as some European cities.

The Airbus jetliner has a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,800 kilometers) at entry into service, enabling nonstop service from Manila to Europe or North America.

Back in 2016, PAL ordered 6 A350-900s, which have less capacity of 325 seats, compared to the A350-1000's 366.

Bautista had said PAL expects to receive 15 aircraft in 2018, including 4 Airbus A350s, 6 Airbus A321neos, as well as 5 Bombardier Q400 next generation planes.

The 15 new planes will bring PAL's fleet to a total of 103 aircraft, though as Bautista noted, some of the older planes will be retired.

PAL carried 15 million passengers in 2017 and is targeting 16.5 million passengers in 2018. – Rappler.com