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PAL plans to buy 2 more planes for long-haul flights

MANILA, Philippines - National flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) of taipan Lucio Tan is looking at acquiring two more Boeing 777 and about six Airbus A350 aircraft as part of a plan to beef up its long haul fleet, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said.

In its latest aviation analysis, CAPA said PAL president Jaime Bautista confirmed that the airline would take delivery of two Boeing aircraft next year which would be used for its flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco or its Manila – Vancouver – New York route.

The regional think tank said PAL is also looking at acquiring at least four and as many as six new-generation widebody aircraft particularly Airbus A350 to expand its destinations in North America and Europe starting 2017 and 2018.

“London and New York could potentially be served with new-generation widebody aircraft. The A350-900 has emerged as the strong favorite as Airbus has informed PAL it could use the type to operate non-stop services to New York,” CAPA added.

Apart from possibly launching direct flights to New York, CAPA said PAL is also looking at serving Toronto via Vancouver on a daily basis.

CAPA pointed out that PAL does not believe any variants of the Boeing Dreamliner 787 could have the range to operate non-stop flights to New York without payload restrictions.

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It added the national flag carrier could no longer wait for the Boeing 777-X that could be delivered as early as 2020.

PAL’s widebody fleet of 27 aircraft consists of 15 Airbus A330-300, six Beoing 777-300ER, and six A340-300 after phasing out its ageing fleet of Boeing 747-400 together with older model A340-300.

The airline is also slowly phasing out more Airbus A340-300 ex-Iberia aircraft.

Bautista also told CAPA that PAL is planning to standardize its A330-300 fleet by retrofitting the eight aircraft that are currently in 414- all-economy seat configuration into new 311-seat and 329-seat configuration to be able to offer premium products.

Moreover, PAL is considering outfitting Airbus A321 neoLR with lie-flat business class seats for flights to Australia including existing routes such as Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.

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