Philippines Airlines (PAL) is embarking on an aircraft buying spree, not seen since the mid-1990s when it launched an ambitious three-year refleeting programme that unfortunately was disrupted by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Now under new management and buoyed by aggressive expansion plans (see previous news), the airline announced today a firm order with Airbus for up to 54 aircraft – raised from an intial order of 35 – which covers 34 A321ceo, 10 A321neo and 10 A330-300s. Deliveries are to start in 2013.
PAL intends to deploy the single-aisle A321 planes on domestic and regional routes, while the A330s are earmarked for higher-demand regional routes and long-haul services to the Middle East and Australia. The A320 family and its variations are known to be fuel efficient, which suits PAL’s efforts to reduce operating costs, especially as 45 percent of its expenses are due to fuel.
Ramon Ang, PAL president, said earlier they were considering acquiring up to 100 aircraft over the next few years. Boeing is expected to take up the remainder of the orders not placed with Airbus.
Ang – also with San Miguel Corporation, which now owns 49 per cent of the airline – said that PAL was eager to help revitalise the Philippines’ economic and tourism profile, which has been perennially lagging behind its neighbours due to factors such as political instability, poor infrastructure and crime.
There is also the country’s Category 2 Status from the US Federal Aviation Administration that PAL and other carriers continue to deal with. Under this label, PAL is prohibited from using aircraft other than its current aging B747-400s and A340-300 for flights to the US West Coast, as well as from mounting additional flights to the US despite heightened demand for trans-Pacific services.
PAL executives are hopeful, however, that the Philippines’ status will shortly be raised to Category 1.
For more about the airline, visit www.philippineairlines.com
Margie T Logarta