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PAL profits surge in 7 months

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) saw its net income surge to $138 million in the first seven months of the year on strong passenger growth, coupled with sustained lower fuel prices.

PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said the airline remains upbeat on the remainder of the year as it sees passenger numbers growing every year.

Last year, PAL posted a comprehensive net income of $20.4 million, reversing three years of losses.

Bautista said hitting more than $100 million in net income this year was not far-fetched given higher passenger traffic

“This is a big improvement from the 2014 performance. We will sustain this profitability “ he said.

With the lean season kicking in, Bautista said the airline hopes to minimize losses by mounting more flights and reducing flights to certain destinations.

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“There are months that we are expecting losses. Traditionally, airlines lose money during these months. But we will try to minimize the loss,” he said.

Bautista said PAL would be reducing flights to Los Angeles from 11 flights per week to nine or 10 flights per week.

Normal flights would resume after the lean season, he said.

Bautista said PAL would also start flying to Papua New Guinea by October, Australia and New Zealand by December, as well as flights from Cebu to Los Angeles by March 2016.

He said PAL is acquiring five new Airbus A321 in 2016 and is currently reviewing whether it would replace its six Airbus A340s with a Boeing 787-900 or the Airbus A359.

“Hopefully, we finish evaluation within the year. But delivery will take two to three years,” he said.

Replacing the planes would generate more savings in fuel and maintenance, improve their products as they can already fly non-stop to more destinations, and increase their presence in the United States and in Europe, Bautista pointed out.

“Non-stop flights are what tourists prefer. We will be able to contribute more to tourism,” he said.

Meanwhile, PAL expressed its apprehension over the ongoing air talks between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates which it claimed could have a significant impact on its plan to launch new routes to the Middle East, Europe and the US east coast should the Philippine panel grant the additional through unnecessary entitlements requested by the UAE.

Within the last two years, PAL re-connected Manila to four destinations in the Middle East, to London and New York. Any additional entitlements to UAE carriers would create a distortion in the market and could possibly lead to PAL pulling out of these new routes, the flag carrier said.

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