PAL’s aircraft, parts acquisition to hit $2 billion

PHILIPPINE Airlines Inc. (PAL) announced recently it plans to spend $2 billion to acquire more than a dozen aircraft this year.

Jaime J. Bautista, who sits as president at the flag carrier, said his group will invest the amount for 15 more jets and their spare parts.

Broken down, the airline will take delivery of four Airbus A350-900s, six Airbus A321 neos and five Bombardier Q400s.

“The value of the 15 planes, including parts—as we also have to invest in spare parts—will reach about $2 billion, based on the list price,” Bautista said.

The first of the jumbo A350 jets—configured to sport three seat classes with 295 seats in total—will be delivered in June.

It will be deployed in the carrier’s nonstop Manila-New York service by October. After New York, PAL will utilize the new planes for services to Seattle, Chicago and a point in Western Europe.

The rest will be delivered in August, September and December, according to Bautista.

“These will replace some routes operated using our Airbus A340,” he added.

The first of the A321s will be delivered next month. The rest will be delivered toward the third quarter of the year.

The new plane, which will have 168 economy seats and 12 business-class seats, will be used to launch new destinations out of Manila, such as Sapporo in Japan and New Delhi and Mumbai in India.

It will also be used to convert its Brisbane services via Darwin, Australia, to nonstop service.

“We are also scheduled to receive five new-generation Q400s this year. They will replace the old Q400s, which are about 16 years to 17 years old. When we take delivery of all these airplanes, we will have one of the youngest fleet again in Asia,” Bautista said.

The Bombardier planes are used in short interisland services within the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Bautista explained the cost of getting the last star from airline rating agency Skytrax is quite an amount.

In a statement five days ago, PAL said it has been certified as a four-star airline by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organization. “PAL, joining 40 other well-renowned airlines in this prestigious category, is the first and only airline in the country to have a four-star rating,” the company said.

Bautista said the rating did “not just involves the refleeting, it also involved investments in manpower development, improvements of ground services and route expansion, among others.”

“For us to be able to get five stars, we need to invest in facilities just like the lounge, where we are spending P500 million in facilities here in the Philippines to improve the lounges in Manila and all over the country,” he added.

Currently, the company is in the middle of the construction of a 900-square-meter (sq m), two-story Mabuhay Lounge in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 2.

Other lounges—in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, General Santos and San Francisco—will be renovated, if not expanded with a new look, PAL said in a statement.

New lounges in Puerto Princesa and Cagayan de Oro will be opened within the first quarter of the year. A new Mabuhay Lounge at the fourth floor of Naia Terminal 1 will likewise be opened, covering 750 sq m, for its passengers departing at that terminal. “We need to spend more in training our people, we are setting up a school and that will be another investment in hundreds of millions in pesos also,” Bautista added.

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