Philippine Airlines (PAL) has placed a firm order with Airbus for 54 new aircraft – the largest single commercial aircraft order in the history of the Philippines.
The deal, which is reported to be worth US$7 billion, consists of a mix on narrow- and wide-body aircraft, including 34 A321s, 10 A321neos and 10 A330-300s. Deliveries are expected to commence in 2013.
In a statement today, PAL said that the A321s – the longest version of the A320 family, seating approximately 185 passengers in a two-class layout – would be used to boost its domestic and regional Asia Pacific routes, as well as supporting alliances with partner airlines. The A330s will be operated on routes to Australia and the Middle East, marking a return to the region for PAL, which was forced to pull out of the Middle East in 2011 due to financial difficulties and increased competition from the Gulf carriers.
“The orders we are placing with Airbus will play a key role in revitalising PAL and growing trade and tourism in the country,” said PAL’s Chairman Lucio Tan. “With these aircraft we will be able to offer more passengers the best the industry has to offer across our Asia Pacific network. At the same time, we will benefit from the low operating costs associated with new generation aircraft and the reduced impact on the environment.”
The fleet renewal and route expansion plan is the latest stage in a major resurgence for the ailing national carrier, since receiving fresh investment from Philippine brewery San Miguel earlier this year. New President Ramon Ang even suggested recently that PAL may invest in another airline.
PAL currently operates a fleet of just 39 aircraft, and recently started taking delivery of its new Boeing 777s, which it is using on flights to Australia.