Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is beefing up its fleet with new medium-range and long-range aircraft ahead of plans to restart its flights to Europe, an official said Thursday.
The company recently received its first A321-200, which is also the first of a batch of as many as 65 new aircraft from European manufacturer Airbus SAS in a deal valued at about $9.5 billion.
The new plane will be used for major domestic routes such as Manila-Cebu and Manila-Davao, PAL said. It will also be used for the so-called high-density regional routes, it added.
PAL’s order, considered the largest aircraft purchase by a Philippine carrier, consisted of 45 A321s and 10 wide-body A300-300. It recently exercised an order to acquire 10 additional A330-300s.
Ismael Augusto Gozon, PAL senior vice president for operations, reiterated the company’s plan to start flying to Europe within the year. He said PAL could use its growing fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A340s, both long-range aircraft, to service flights to Europe.
The European Union on July 12 lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines, meaning the carrier can restart flights to Europe within 2013.
Gozon said initial destinations would include London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Madrid.
“We have to apply for everything all over again. We literally have to start from zero,” Gozon told reporters, referring to flights to Europe. “We will really try to (fly there) before the end of the year.
The Civil Aeronautics Board has also taken the initial steps to restart talks with France and Italy with the objective of negotiating fresh air deals to support the expansion of PAL. Miguel Camus