PAL takes delivery of Airbus plane
TOULOUSE, France —Flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. Friday took delivery of its second A330-300 long-range plane manufactured by France-based Airbus S.A.S. amid expectations of faster growth—and competition—in the air travel sector coming out of emerging markets, led by Asia Pacific, officials of PAL and Airbus said.
The 414-seat A330-300, the first of as many as 20 planes within this model ordered by PAL as part of a $9.5-billion, 65-plane refleeting strategy through 2019, would serve the carrier’s Manila-Abu Dhabi route on Oct 1. This will also mark the airline’s return to the Middle East, one of the biggest employers of Filipino workers overseas.
The acquisitions come as PAL expects to restart flights to Europe after 15 years, via a Manila-to-London service in November, although a longer range plane would be used.
“We now start the next phase of our fleet renewal, anchored on the new generation A330-300s. This aircraft enables PAL to open up new frontiers in our rapidly growing network as well as in service innovation for our passengers,” PAL president Ramon S. Ang said in a statement.
In his acceptance remarks in Toulouse, France, PAL senior vice president for operations Ismael Augusto Gozon pointed to the airline’s long-running relationship with Airbus even prior to the current aircraft deal, which he described as “the largest aircraft order in Philippine history.”
“Indeed we are old friends. The partnership between PAL and Airbus goes back 35 years, to 1978, when we ordered our first A300-B4, making PAL the second Asian airline and first in Southeast Asia to order Airbus aircraft,” Gozon said.
PAL and PAL Express operate 64 planes today, but the new orders for 65 planes, broken down into 20 A330s and 44 A321s, also signal that both long-haul and short-haul traffic is expected to remain robust.
Airbus is expecting continued growth in the Asia-Pacific region, already the biggest market today in terms of its order backlog, to continue growing faster in the next two decades, according to Simon Azar, Airbus’ manager for twin-aisle models like the A330.
With growing demand, both within and outside the region, Asia Pacific is expected to increase its lead in passenger traffic by 2032 to a 34 percent share in traffic compared to 29 percent today, Azar said in a briefing with Filipino journalists. Asia Pacific will be trailed by Europe at 22 percent in 20 years from 26 percent today.
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