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PAL eyes 20 more new planes

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Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is looking at acquiring 20 new planes from American manufacturer Boeing Co. in a new multi-hundred-million-dollar deal that will support the company’s expansion overseas.

PAL president Ramon S. Ang on Monday said this would be on top of the additional four A330 jets from Airbus that were ordered this month and the 65 that were awaiting delivery from the European plane maker.

“It depends on the price. We are looking at the new Boeing 777X. We will buy 10 and if it performs well, we’ll exercise an option for 10 more,” Ang told reporters.

The new Boeing 777X, a model that has yet to see commercial operation, is an improvement of the Boeing 777-300 planes that PAL has in its fleet today. The new plane features larger but lighter cabins, bigger wings and more fuel efficient engines.

“We want those planes for our long-range flights,” Ang said, adding that his “dream” was for PAL to have flights to New York in the United States and various points in Western Europe.

He said flights to New York would require a plane that can fly 17 hours straight—a feat possible with the new Boeing 777X.

Since taking over the PAL management last year, conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has put the flag carrier on an aggressive expansion path that calls for the acquisition of up to 100 new aircraft and hiring of hundreds of new employees.

This year, Ang, who is also the president of San Miguel, said PAL should take delivery of as many as 24 new planes mostly from Airbus to replace older aircraft. Of those that will be delivered this year, 12 are Airbus A330s which are capable of long-haul flights. Another four A330s were ordered just this month.

“With new planes arriving, we can have 50 to 60 percent more passengers per flight, and the cost per seat will go down tremendously because maintenance costs will be lower,” Ang said.

“We are very bullish,” he said, adding that the company was expecting to post a profit in its next fiscal year.

Taken together with its affiliate, Air Philippines, which operates budget carrier PAL Express, the group’s total revenue was estimated to reach $2 billion this year, Ang said.


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