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With new fleet, PAL readies nonstop flights to New York, India

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines (PAL) will mount nonstop flights to New York and India as well as boost its operations in Davao, Cebu, and Clark in Pampanga, as the flag carrier expects the arrival of 21 new planes by 2019.

PAL, the country's only 4-star airline, will have 15 new aircraft within the year, and another 6 planes in 2019, to mount more long-haul flights.

"We are no longer just a Manila-centric airline," PAL president and chief operating office Jaime Bautista said in a statement.

New routes and increased flight frequencies will be introduced, as the flag carrier is set to receive 5 additional Next-Generation Bombardier Q400s and 6 new Airbus A321neos starting in May, along with 4 Airbus A350-900 trans-oceanic aircraft starting in June. (READ: PAL to spend around $2 billion on 15 new planes in 2018)

"Our new aircraft and our new hubs are a winning combination that will help expand our market reach both domestically and worldwide. This is imperative for a global airline, and we must sustain and build on our hard-won 4-star rating," Bautista said.

He added that introducing new routes to India is the airline's response to the call of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo for a direct link to the country – a potentially rich source of future tourists for the Philippines.

PAL's expansion in 2018 also includes the following new routes:

Bautista said PAL also plans to add more flights between Cebu and Siargao, Davao and Tagbilaran, Davao and Clark, Cebu and Bangkok, Cagayan de Oro and Clark, Cebu and Busuanga, Clark and Busuanga, as well as Cebu and Clark.

The airline will also add frequencies from Manila going to Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, and Bacolod, starting in April or May. (READ: PAL's talks with 'strategic' investor moving forward)

100 planes by 2020 

PAL is also planning to launch international routes directly from the Davao International Airport to Bangkok or a point in Japan.

The flag carrier flies to 16 domestic and 7 international destinations from Cebu, 14 domestic and one international from Clark, 6 domestic from Davao, as well as one international from Tagbilaran.

"Comprehensive marketing and sales studies are ongoing for the introduction of new destinations in Europe and the US mainland, including Chicago and Seattle," PAL said.

Aircraft expected to join the PAL fleet in 2019 include two more Next-Generation Q400s, two A350s, and two more A321neos.

"Our current fleet of 85 aircraft is already the largest in the Philippines," Bautista said. 

"We are aiming for 100 aircraft by 2020, which places us in the category of a major carrier. But we are not merely adding more planes, we are constantly upgrading the cabins, seats, amenities, inflight entertainment, and technology," he added.

The airline's fleet upgrade will continue until 2024, as it aims to become a 5-star airline. PAL is the country's first and only 4-star airline, joining the ranks of 42 other carriers, like British Airways, Emirates, KLM, and Japan Airlines. – Rappler.com