PAL eyes more US flights to shore up bottom line
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is considering new nonstop ultralong haul routes to and from United States cities over the next two years as it expects a probable net loss this year amid rising fuel prices.
In an interview, PAL president Jaime Bautista expressed excitement over the establishment of a nonstop flight between Manila and New York, “which will happen maybe third quarter of 2018.”
Bautista said PAL was also looking at new routes into the United States like Chicago and Seattle.
PAL announced in February 2016 a deal with aircraft manufacturer Airbus for the purchase of six A350-900 aircraft, with an option for another six.
Bautista said PAL expects delivery of four Airbus 350s in 2018. As the new aircraft will be more fuel-efficient, he said the additions to the fleet would help the airline do away with—for US flights—stops in Vancouver in Canada that make the trips take more than 14 hours.
For a start, PAL is launching this December direct flights between Manila and Auckland in New Zealand.
The move is part of a cooperation agreement with Tourism New Zealand, aimed at increasing the number of visitors both ways.
Bautista said the nonstop flights would do away with the usual stop in Cairns in Queensland, Australia.
He said this would reduce travel time by two hours, from 12 hours to 10 hours.
“As mentioned by [Tourism New Zealand], most Kiwis want to travel nonstop,” he said.
PAL reported an unaudited P3.29-billion net loss for the third quarter of 2017, worsening by 63 percent the year-ago period’s P2-billion net loss.
The third-quarter performance brought PAL’s net loss in the first nine months of the year to P4.95 billion, a downturn from a net income of P2.6 billion previously.
“Oil prices have gone up by more than 20 percent compared with last year, but fares are still going down and that’s the reason why we are not doing very well financially,” Bautista said.
In 2016, PAL reported a P3.59-billion net income after tax, a 39-percent drop from P5.87 billion in 2015. —RONNEL W. DOMINGO
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