Philippine Airlines lays out expansion plans

10 Aug 2012

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced a set of new customer services and products, reflecting launch efforts by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) – which bought a 49 per cent stake in the loss-making carrier in April – to instigate a vigorous enhancement programme.

“Our number one priority is to turn around PAL by tapping into the strengths of San Miguel Corporation and the Lucio Tan Group of Companies,” said Ramon Ang, a long-time SMC top executive and now PAL president and chief operating officer.

San Miguel is one of the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates and Lucio Tan is the country’s second richest man, who controlled PAL until SMC made the US$500 million investment in it.

Ang stressed: “Our growth strategy for PAL is simple: modernisation of its fleet, expansion of its network and improvements in passenger service.”

In the short term, customers can expect innovations in inflight cuisine, designed by five celebrity guest chefs and Apple iPads for onboard entertainment on trans-Pacific flights, and for the local residents, Book & Buy ticket kiosks will be installed at selected Petron gas stations.

Ang said that on a bigger scale they were looking forward to the delivery of three more B777-300ER aircraft in addition to three already in the PAL fleet. The first should arrive before the year’s end, and the rest in 2013. The 370-seat B777s now in action are being used on Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and Vancouver routes.

PAL executives are hoping to add Toronto, Paris and New York to their network “in the near future”, said Ang.

But to start up flights to Europe and the US, the Philippines will have to succeed in getting off the blacklists of both the EU and the US’ Federal Administration Agency (see news).

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Margie T Logarta

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