PAL eyes 20 M passengers by 2021


By Catherine Talavera (Associated Press)

MANILA, Philippines -  Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is targeting to fly 20 million passengers by 2021, in its bid to join the ranks of five-star carriers.

In a presentation before the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) last week, PAL president Jaime Bautista said the company is projecting its passenger volume to grow by around 33.3 percent from the 15 million passengers targeted for this year.

“From 15 million passengers in 2017, we project to carry more than 20 million passengers in 2021, from foreign visitors to our OFW heroes to Filipino families and of course the men and women who run the business enterprises and power the country’s economic engines,” Bautista said.

Last year, PAL carried a total of 13.4 million passengers, a 12.6 percent rise from 11.9 million passengers served in 2015.

To achieve its passenger volume target, Bautista said the flag carrier would grow its fleet to at least 96 aircraft by 2021 from 87.

“In doing so, we will phase out 18 older aircraft and take delivery of 27 brand new airplanes,” Bautista said.

PAL is overhauling its commuter fleet in its domestic operations by introducing 12 new generation Bombardier Q400s, a high-technology Canadian aircraft.

Bautista said the aircraft is a product of many Filipino hands and minds, as Filipinos make up 20 percent of the Bombardier work force in Canada.

The air carrier is also expecting the delivery of two brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft later this year,which will complete its fleet of 10 B777s for deployment to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver and London Heathrow.

“Next year we will start flying the Airbus A321 NEO, including a special longer-range version that will enable us to launch nonstop services to Brisbane, Delhi, Perth, Mumbai and Sapporo, as well as increase flights to Melbourne and other Asia/Pacific destinations,” Bautista said.

In addition, Bautista said PAL would link the Philippines nonstop to New York, Chicago, Seattle and far-flung points in Europe and North America as it is set to introduce the Airbus A350, its new ultra-long-range flagship in 2018, which has a 295-seater capacity.

PAL is proposing to build a new annex building at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, including a passenger terminal with a capacity of 12 million to 15 million per year and aerobridges capable of serving 12 to 17 wide-bodied and single-aisle jets.

The STAR earlier reported that PAL is ready to invest $400 million for the proposed project, which will be built beside its current hub at the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2.

He added the project would help decongest the airport as it would feature a new, 89,000 square-meter air terminal (equivalent to 200 basketball courts) north of NAIA 2.

The PAL president projects the terminal to be operational by July 2021, if it is able to break ground by February 2018.