Eager for new hub, PAL preps new fleet


Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is moving forward with new plane acquisitions and destinations as it seeks to bolster its volume to about 20 million passengers by 2021.

The goal, a third higher than the 15 million passengers PAL is targeting to serve this year, comes amid expectation that the government will take bigger steps to ease terminal and runway congestion in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, PAL’s main hub.

PAL’s expansion plans will be supported by the acquisition of brand new planes that will help the airline fly to more areas in Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

PAL president Jaime Bautista said PAL would grow its fleet to 96 planes by 2021 from its current 87 aircraft today. During this period, about 18 older and less-efficient planes would be phased out, he said.

New planes coming in include the Airbus A321 NEO, which PAL would start using in 2018. Bautista said a longer-range version of the A321 NEO would allow PAL to launch nonstop services to Brisbane and Perth in Australia, Delhi and Mumbai in India and Sapporo in Japan.

PAL also planned to increase flights to Melbourne in Australia, Bautista said.

Next generation Airbus A350s would also be delivered to PAL in 2018. Bautista said the aircraft would “help us link the Philippines nonstop to New York, Chicago, Seattle and far-flung points in Europe and North America.”

PAL has also ordered Bombardier Q400s, for inter-island travel, and two more Boeing 777-300ERs, which would be delivered by the end of this year.

Bautista said the flag carrier would need additional space to support its growing fleet. He urged the Duterte administration last week to consider PAL’s proposal to build a P20 billion Terminal 2 annex building.