PAL boosts connectivity to the islands with 5 Bombardier


By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat | Manila Bulletin

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is expanding its fleet of small aircraft with the delivery of five Bombardier airplanes and two A321 in the second half this year to be able to fly to almost all island destinations with smaller airports in the country that are currently serviced by boutique airline operators.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officers Jaime J. Bautista told reporters at the opening Friday of the Philippine Travel Expo 2017 that starting July this year they will take the delivery of one Q400 Bombardier airplane a month until November this year.

This is in addition to PAL’s existing fleet of  9 Bombardier, Bautista said. Q400 is an 86-seater aircraft that PAL flies to smaller airports.

“Our new Bombardier will serve smaller domestic airports because we have to develop this market also,” said Bautista.

With a total of 14 aircraft, Bautista said PAL would be able to fly to almost all smaller airports that cannot be served by its big aircraft like A320s.

Boutique airlines are now dominating the islands operating feeder services to bigger airlines like PAL and Cebu Pacific.

Bautista also said that flying to smaller airports is already profitable.

But, in order to carry more passengers PAL will maximize the use of its big airplanes.

In fact, aside from the delivery of 5 Bombardier this year PAL will have two A321 deliveries as well, for a total of 7 new aircraft deliveries in 2017.

“This will increase air connectivity in the domestic market,” he added.

According to Bautista, the airline expects to carry 13.5 million passengers this year or 10 percent higher than 2016. This increase in passenger volume is also expected to translate in 10 percent increase in the airline’s revenue generation. PAL passengers are equally divided between domestic and international, but half of the international passengers are inbound passengers.

For 2018, PAL will take the delivery of Airbus 350 which will be used for long haul non-stop flights from Manila to New York and possibly Europe.

“There is no definite plan which European city we are going to fly next,” said Bautista but added this will definitely be in a city with the most concentration of Filipino communities.

Bautista further said that PAL is not keen on participating in any airport terminal development citing the three proposals for new airport projects such as Sangley Point by the Bell Corp. and Solar group’s All Asia Resources, the Bulacan proposal by San Miguel Corp. and another one in Laguna de Bay (near Taguig) as identified by the JICA study. Clark, he said, should be serving requirements of central and northern Luzon.

He explained that PAL is in the business of flying not in the building airports, but they need a good infrastructure for them to be able to fly to their destinations.

“We really need support infrastructure for airport wherever it may be, a new airport is critical otherwise growth will be stymied,” he said.

So far, PAL has improved its on time performance by 20 to 30 percent because the Department of Transportation has implemented improvement in the process, airport management and runway utilization.