PAL nears deal with strategic investor, launches flights to 3 more Asian cities

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) looks to soar to new heights this year, as it plans to close a deal with a strategic investor and open three new Asian routes within the first half.

PAL president and COO Jaime Bautista said in a briefing yesterday that the company is set to take in a strategic investor within the first semester, a development which has been planned but failed to push through since 2017.

“We’re targeting first half of the year. We’re talking to a possible strategic investor,” Bautista said.

PAL is expected to benefit from the entry of a strategic investor in terms of the partner’s contribution in equity, management, route development or possible membership in an alliance.

“Actually that 40 percent is the maximum we can offer under the law. Foreigners can own up to 40 percent,” Bautista said.

Meanwhile, the country’s only four-star global airline also intends to ramp up operations in the Asian region within the first half by launching new routes to Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and New Delhi (India) from its Manila hub.

The expansion will create the first direct air link between the Philippines and the capital of Cambodia, expands PAL’s existing Vietnam network, and re-establishes a historic link to India with immense potential for tourism development.

PAL said flights between Manila and Hanoi will operate four times weekly starting March 31, while flights between Manila and Phnom Penh will operate five times weekly beginning April 1.

Meanwhile, PAL is also targeting April as the start of the New Delhi service subject to final slot and operational clearances with the Indian authorities.

The new route is slated to run four times weekly nonstop between Manila and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport using brand-new Airbus A321neo aircraft.

PAL is targeting to carry 19 million passengers this year from 17 million passengers last year.

“Vietnam and Cambodia are emerging markets and economic centers that need connections to the rest of the world. We are excited to introduce their excellent tourist attractions to more and more Western travelers, including Filipino Americans,” Bautista said.

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