Covid has been tough on many airlines around the world. Difficult decisions have had to be made, such as reducing crew and fleet sizes. Decisions that are still impacting the recovery of the aviation industry worldwide and that are also part of the reason for the ticket price surge we are all experiencing. One of the airlines that had a particularly tough time during the pandemic is Philippine Airlines. However the latest PAL aircraft order tells us there might be a brighter future ahead for the airline. Let’s take a closer look at the latest Philippine Airlines Airbus order.
About The Philippine Airlines Airbus A350-1000 Order
PAL has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Airbus this week, agreeing to purchase 9 Airbus A350-1000. This version of the aircraft offers the longest range of the lineup. It is capable, in optimal conditions, to cover routes in excess of 16,000 Km.
This ULR capability of the Airbus A350-1000 will be key to the future expansion of the Philippine Airlines route network. The airline after being forced to dramatically reduce operations during the pandemic is eyeing a return to many destinations in the North America and Europe, where Phillipino communities are big and numerous.
Image by PAL
Expanding The Long Range Fleet After the Covid Shrink
These planes will complement the airline’s long range fleet which at the moment is comprised of:
- 9 Boeing 777-300ER
- 10 Airbus A330-300
- 2 Airbus A350-900
PAL used to have more A350-900, in the pre pandemic scenario. However the minimal traffic figures during covid forced PAL to make some tough decisions. That was the case with the sale of 4 of its A350-900 to Lufthansa in 2022. Specifically:
- RP-C3503 was sold and became D-AIVA
- RP-C3504 was sold and became D-AIVB
- RP-C3506 was sold and became D-AIVC
- RP-C3507 was sold and became D-AIVD
These new arrivals will be of fundamental importance for PAL operations. They will allow the airline to increase its network size and reduce possibile operational disruptions.
The PAL A350-1000 Cabin Configuration
Unlike the Philippine Airlines A350-900 the 1000 will be configured with a 3 class configuration. This means the aircraft will have a more premium heavy layout in the attempt to drive more revenue from every flight. The PAL A350-1000 will feature:
- Business Class
- Premium Economy
- Economy Class
We still don’t have the exact numbers of seats per cabin. Therefore we’ll have to wait a little longer to get to know those.
However The Key To Philippine Airlines Success Will Be The New Airport
Although the introductions of these planes is extremely important to PAL, what will be key to the airline’s future success will be the new international airport. At the moment the Philippines’ national carrier is heavily limited in its operations by its outdated Ninoy Aquino airport. The airport is small, congested and has no space to grow. This in turn limits PAL’s capability of being a viable transit airline for foreign travellers.
Therefore there is a new airport under construction in the north of the capital Manila, outside of the congested city center. The new airport will be a modern hub with all infrastructures expected by global travellers. Completion of the new airport is expected by 2026. Only then will PAL truly have a chance to become competitive and an attractive option for connecting traffic and not only for incoming passengers.