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PAL cautiously optimistic

Philippine Airlines has reportedly posted a net income of about P740 million for August, making the prospects very encouraging for the country’s flag carrier. According to PAL president and CEO Jimmy Bautista, the company is expected to top the $100 million target net income for the whole of 2015, with the company having posted a $138-million net income from January to July this year. However, PAL is not about to be complacent since there could still be lean months ahead, plus the fact it has to take in stock two consecutive years of losses.

The airline is slowly making a turnaround, in large part due to the replacement of its aging fleet with more efficient aircraft, plus several cost-cutting measures that the company has undertaken, among them the disengagement of non-core services for the airline to remain competitive given the growing challenges in the industry.

PAL is also set to expand its network in the Oceania region. PAL will launch flights to Australia (Cairns) and New Zealand (Auckland) this December – which will allow the carrier to cater to the travel requirements of business travelers as well as Filipinos residing in Australia and New Zealand.

PAL is also eyeing direct flights to Saipan (through PAL Express), and this October will start flights to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea – the third international destination it will open this year after New York and Quanzhou in China. The carrier is also mulling code-sharing agreements with several Middle Eastern airlines to expand its presence in Europe.

Airbus throws gauntlet, puts up plant in Boeing turf

It looks like European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is dead-set on challenging its American rival Boeing right in the latter’s own backyard, throwing a party to celebrate the unveiling of the Airbus production facility in Mobile, Alabama. The $600-million, 215,000-square meter facility will be used for the assembly of single-aisle jets, namely A319, A320 and A321 current models – before embarking on the more updated “neo” versions.

Many have noted the irony of having a European plane built on American soil by American people – plus the fact the manufacturing facility and the aircraft will be certified by European regulators rather than the US Federal Aviation Administration.

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American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are set to take delivery of the first single-aisle jets to be built out of the new US facility of Airbus in the first quarter of 2016.

Alabama was initially the location for the refueling program of Airbus, but according to company execs, the state was attractive for several reasons, among them the lower cost of labor pus the proximity to a port. The opening of the plant will certainly boost growth and employment with some 1,000 Americans to be employed when it reaches full production operations by 2018 – in addition to the 1,400 existing employees in the US for various activities that include the manufacture of helicopters, administrative work and flight training.

Close to 300 employees have been hired by Airbus for its newest facility, but this early, however, some workers have expressed disappointment they are getting lower rates than their European counterparts. At the opening of the facility, representatives of a labor union were on hand and joined in the festivities (complete with a fireworks display). Alabama is known as a “right-to-work state” – meaning employees are not required to join a union.

Grace Poe ready to roll

The buzz is getting stronger that Senator Grace Poe is expected to announce her candidacy either tomorrow or no later than the weekend – barring unforeseen circumstances, that is.

The Senator has been at the forefront of recent surveys for prospective presidential candidates in May 2016, which has made her a target with all sorts of rumors being floated to derail her candidacy even when she has not yet declared her intention to seek higher office.

Even before she even declared her candidacy, the yellow demolition team has been hard at work with issues that are being hurled against her like her citizenship as well as her residency, with a complaint already filed at the Senate Electoral Tribunal by a losing senatorial candidate in the 2013 elections. Sources within the camp of Senator Grace said a white paper is also being circulated about her drinking and smoking habits. One e-mail/Facebook comment traced to the yellow group is arrogantly questioning Grace Poe’s “nerve in even thinking of running for president and being overly ambitious.... a foundling with no experience whatsoever.” But not to be deterred, businessmen are still lining up to donate to her campaign with several youth volunteer groups reportedly mobilizing, ready to use their vast social media networks to drum up support for the newbie senator.

The political season is indeed here leading up to Oct. 16, the last day of filing of candidacies – and then we can expect it to get even nastier.

Spy tidbit: Chinese consumers make ‘Chanel brothers’ even wealthier

Billionaire brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer – owner of the luxury brand Chanel – have just become $3 billion richer following the reported 38 percent increase in profits for 2014 with a reported revenue of $7.5 billion and net income of $1.4 billion – in contrast with other luxury companies that reported falling profits. The low-key brothers, who are included in the list of the 100 wealthiest people in the world – now occupy the 6th and 7th slot of the top billionaires in France – thanks to the continued appetite of Chinese consumers for luxury items. According to reports, Chanel has been extraordinarily successful in China – despite a slowdown in sales for other brands after the Chinese government intensified efforts to crack down on corruption.

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