PAL boosts fleet to cater to nonstop US routes
FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines plans to add seven new aircraft to its fleet this year and next year to boost its capacity to offer nonstop trans-Pacific flights.
In a press briefing on Thursday, PAL president Jaime Bautista said the airline would likely chalk up a full-year net profit of over $100 million, bolstered by cheaper fuel and an increase in passenger volume.
From January to July this year, PAL reported a net income of $138 million. For the second half of the year, Bautista said the carrier would likely post a break-even position or a small profit.
The third quarter is usually a weak season due to typhoons. The fourth quarter will eventually bring in the travelling crowd as the Christmas holidays begin.
Bautista said passenger volume for the entire 2015 would likely grow by 5 to 6 percent to reach more than 12 million passengers.
PAL expects the delivery of two Boeing 777-300 ERs before the end of the year, bringing to eight its fleet of large double-aisle aircraft. These 370-seater planes will be mainly assigned to US destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
“Range is very important especially for non-stop flights. We want to be sure that these airlines will fly the destination that we’d like to reach. Secondly, we need to know the efficiency in terms of fuel,” Bautista said.
PAL currently deploys a mix of B777s and A340s to US routes. It plans an all-B777 fleet flying nonstop to US destinations by December 2014.
The firm is also considering adding to its long-haul trans-Pacific routes either the Airbus A350 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Most of the new planes will be acquired through lease arrangements rather than outright purchase. “We don’t have a capital investment on leased aircraft,” Bautista said.
Next year, PAL may also acquire five narrow-bodied Airbus 321-200s with a seating capacity of 199 each. “We’re looking at two owned and three leased aircraft,” he said.
For island-destinations, PAL is studying to acquire additional 76-seater Bombardier Q400s and 56-seater Bombardier Q300s.
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