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PAL refleeting ends; rights offer eyed

Philippine Airlines received the last of six brand-new Airbus A350-900s early this week, marking the completion of its widebody refleeting program that is a key part of its aspirations to become a five-star carrier by next year.

The new A350s, whose order was announced during the 2016 Singapore Airshow, would be mainly for its North America operations, including nonstop flights between Manila and New York.

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The last of six Airbus A350s flew to Manila last May 4 directly from Airbus’ factory in Toulouse, France, PAL said.

The delivery comes as PAL announced the expansion of its international flights to cater to heavier demand during the summer season.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said among these were additional flights from Manila to New York (from five times weekly to daily), San Francisco (from 10 times to 14 times weekly), Los Angeles (from 14 times to 17 times weekly), and Toronto (from five times weekly to daily flights).

Flights were also added to Nagoya, Osaka, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Sydney, Brisbane, Taipei and Doha, she said.

In an interview last week, PAL president Jaime Bautista said the airline continued to study new international routes but he noted that the current focus was to ramp up existing operations due to high demand.

PAL earlier allocated $650 million this year to acquire new planes. Apart from the A350s, deliveries in 2019 included two Airbus A321neos and two A321ceos. Operator PAL Holdings ended 2018 with 97 aircraft, some of which will be phased out as PAL adds new planes.

Expansion efforts would be supported by the entry of a new strategic partner, Japan’s ANA Holdings, and a potential share sale, which PAL had first revealed earlier this year.

In a separate stock exchange filing, PAL Holdings confirmed it plans to increase its authorized capital to P20 billion from P13.5 billion.

“Among others things such as a private placement or a public offer, a rights offering to the shareholders of the company is being considered in order to comply with the minimum subscription required by law,” PAL Holdings said last May 5.

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PAL Holdings, hit by higher fuel costs that affected the global airline industry, narrowed losses to P4.33 billion in 2018 from P7.33 billion the previous year. Passenger sales drove up total revenues, which increased 16.2 percent to P150.4 billion last year. It carried 15.9 million passengers last year versus 14.5 million passengers the previous year.

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TAGS: Airbus A350-900s, Cielo Villaluna, Philippine Airlines
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