THE country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), is planning to sell its Airbus A340 aircraft and replace it either with Boeing 787s or A350s in 2016 to cut down maintenance costs and boost revenue growth.
“When we operate the Boeing 777, because it has more seats than an A340, these airplanes will fly to the US next year to replace the A340. Right now we have six A340s,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime J. Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of the annual stockholders’ meeting of aviation support services provider MacroAsia Corp. on Friday.
Asked if the company was planning to sell its A340 fleet, Bautista replied: “Yes, if there’s a buyer, we can sell the A340s. The A340 is becoming more expensive to operate because it consumes more fuel because of its four-engine operation, and maintenance is also a little bit more expensive, so gradually we will sell them. If there are buyers we will sell them.”
Bautista explained that PAL is in the process of evaluating whether to buy the A350 or the B787. “We will only operate one type of additional long haul aircraft,” he said.
“Right now we are operating the B777 and the A340. When we phase out the A340 we will replace this with only one type of aircraft, so it’s either the 787 or A350. So we are now in the process of evaluating which aircraft we will choose to replace the A340,” Bautista said.
He added, “The decision [will be made]most probably within the year. Just to replace the A340, there would be at least six, and then this might be increased to address the growth in the market. It’s not advisable [to get two different types of aircraft]because of the training, spares and provisioning, so to be efficient we should only operate one additional aircraft type.”
“These airplanes are in demand. Even if you order now, I think the earliest you can get it is that you can get it from the manufacturer maybe by 2018 or 2019,” Bautista said.
PAL continues its international expansion this year with the introduction of a regular service to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, which starts October 25.
Bautista said, “I am pleased to announce PAL’s newest destination within the Oceania Region. The robust investment climate and the upsurge of business travel to and from Papua New Guinea make it ideal for PAL to open services between Manila and Port Moresby.”
The service will operate twice a week, with flight PR215 departing Manila every Friday and Sunday at 2:10 a.m. Arrival at Port Moresby’s Jackson International Airport is at 9:20 a.m.
The return flight, PR216, departs Port Moresby on the same days at 10:10 a.m., arriving in Manila at 1:20 p.m. The schedule will allow passengers to further connect with the flag carrier’s domestic and international route network.
PAL will field modern Airbus A320 planes, which seat 12 in business and 144 in economy, on the five-hour-and-ten-minute-journey.
Port Moresby is the third international destination opened by PAL this year, after New York on March 15 and Quanzhou (Jinjiang), China on April 25. It is the flag carrier’s 37th international point overall.
After Port Moresby, the flag carrier will also fly to Cairns, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand on December 2, 2015.