PAL eyes 'new generation' planes

Posted at 05/13/14 9:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Monday said its next batch of aircraft orders would probably include "new generation" aircraft such as the Boeing 777X and Airbus A351.

"We are in the process of evaluating the next batch of orders. At the end of the day, our aspiration is for PAL to operate at least 100 aircraft so there will be economies of scale," PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said.

The Boeing 777X has a flying range of around 17 hours, while the Airbus A351 has a range of about 14 hours.

"Today if you are going to buy, you don't want to buy the old generation aircraft. You want to buy the new generation aircraft," Ang said.

He said PAL has already placed an order for over 70 planes, mostly from Airbus. Of this order, 35 units including 15 A330, 14 A321, and six A340 have been delivered.

PAL also formally announced it was retiring its fleet of five Boeing 747, which were ordered in 1979. The first Boeing 747 was retired six months ago, while the rest will be retired in the next few months.

Ang said PAL is also retiring and selling 20 old aircraft including the four Boeing 747, four A340, and eight A330.

"This year we will be taking out 20 aircraft because the brand-new aircraft have arrived. In concept, these aircraft have been sold already but I cannot give details because the deal has not yet been closed," he said.

More flights to US

PAL is now using the fuel-efficient Boeing 777 for its flights to Los Angeles, and will use the aircraft for flights to San Francisco starting June. For its flights to Honolulu and Guam, PAL will continue to use the new wide-body Airbus A330-300s and single-aisle A320-200s.

The national flag carrier is preparing for additional flights to the US including New York, Florida, Chicago and other major cities. Last April, the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) upgraded the country’s aviation safety rating back to Category 1.

"I think we should be able to go to New York via Vancouver towards October," Ang said.

PAL is also considering Tokyo and Seoul as the possible stop-over for its flights to New York, Chicago, and Florida.

Ang said PAL is also finalizing a code-sharing pact with Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA).

Meanwhile, PAL is still keen on flights to Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt, but is still waiting for a viability study.

"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," Ang said.

Last November, PAL started direct flights to London.

Ang is confident PAL would return to profit for its fiscal year 2014. Last year, it booked a net loss of over P11 billion.

"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. Moving forward now, I believe we will be profitable," he said.