Fast-Growing Philippine Airlines Emerging as Regional Power

 - July 18, 2017, 10:27 AM
A Philippine Airlines Airbus A320 arrives from Cebu at Kansai Airport in Japan. (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons (BY) by lasta29)

Once debt-ridden, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has emerged as one of the fastest growing carriers in its region.

On June 8 it launched a daily Manila-Kuala Lumpur flight using Airbus A321s after a lapse of four years. Despite the presence of Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines with seven daily services on the route, PAL is confident of making an impression. Last month PAL also introduced a daily Tagbilaran-Incheon service, making it the sixth Filipino city to connect with South Korea, joining Manila, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo and Puerto Princesa.

PAL has begun reconfiguring its fleet of 15 Airbus A330-300s from an all-economy-class layout that seats 414 passengers to a three-class, business, premium economy and economy class arrangement designed to seat 309.

PAL placed the first reconfigured aircraft on international routes last month, starting with Dubai and Honolulu. This month it inducts more on its Melbourne and Doha routes, followed by Sydney and Riyadh in August, Singapore, Kuwait and Jeddah in September, Tokyo Haneda in October, Tokyo Narita in November and Osaka in December.

Now serving eight destinations in China, its biggest market, the airline hopes to penetrate the country still further, adding to Beijing, Shanghai, Jinjiang, Macau, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

PAL plans to deploy two Boeing 777-300ERs leased from Intrepid Aviation on a long-term basis starting in December on the London route, replacing its Airbus A340-300.

Six Airbus A350-900s it ordered will arrive on a staggered basis starting mid-2018. PAL expects to decide either late this year or early next year on the possibility of launching flights to Frankfurt and Rome with the delivery of the aircraft.

Domestically, PAL recently boosted operations at Clark International Airport (CIA) as part of its plans to develop its third hub. On June 22 it launched three-times-weekly  flights to Bacolod and a daily service to Tagbilaran. Four-times-weekly service to Cagayan de Oro started the following day. The carrier currently operates to Caticlan, Busuanga, Cebu, Davao and Puerto Princesa from Clark.

Incheon remains the only international route operated by PAL from CIA, the former U.S. military base located some 43 nautical miles outside Manila. Manila and Cebu account for PAL’s other two hubs.

The carrier currently operates a fleet of 81 aircraft consisting of 777-300ERs, A340-300s, A330-300s, A321s and A320s.