Philippine Airlines has signed a deal with Airbus to buy 54 jetliners as part of a major fleet modernisation and expansion program.
The order, which includes 44 single-aisle A321s and 10 widebody A330-300s, will more than double PAL’s current fleet of 39 planes — and airline officials said they were in talks with Airbus and Boeing for the purchase of as many as 46 additional planes, including 16 more long haul widebodies.
Deliveries of the initial order of 54 aircraft, valued at $7 billion at list prices, are expected to start next year. The airline will make engine selections at a later date.
Asia’s oldest airline, PAL has seen its fortunes slump in recent years against fierce competition from budget carriers. Cebu Pacific, with a fleet less than half as old as PAL’s, has grown to become the Philippines largest carrier by most measures.
But this week’s announcement signals PAL’s determination to fight back after beer conglomerate San Miguel bought a 49 per cent stake in the carrier and took over management in April.
By splitting its order between economical single-aisle planes and widebody aircraft, PAL signals a strategy combining a focus on premium long-haul routes with lower-cost short-haul services meant to compete with budget carriers — a strategy also pursued by other legacy Asian carriers. In addition to its mainline brand, PAL operates a budget subsidiary known as Airphil Express.