PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) is strengthening its push to be awarded a five-star rating by international airline rating organization Skytrax by 2020 with the delivery of two new aircraft.
PAL President Jaime J. Bautista told reporters in a rollout ceremony for the new planes in Pasay City on Tuesday that the airline’s new Airbus A350 XWB and A321neo have the necessary improved entertainment system that would push the company to move up its current four-star rating.
Kailangan pa natin i-train yung mga (We still need to train the) staff on the ground and on the air. Yung cabin crew sa amin ang rating is almost five star eh (Our cabin crew’s rating is almost five stars). But we need some more improvements that we can implement. Then we need to improve the contents of the in-flight entertainment system. (These new aircraft), puwede na ‘to (these would do),” he said.
The delivery of the two aircraft are the first of six A321neos expected to arrive within the year and of six firm orders of the A350 unit.
Although the aircraft are marketed by Airbus for long haul flights, Mr. Bautista said these new planes were leased to service different distances of trips.
“Actually we look at both long haul, medium haul and domestic because all these are growing markets… So hindi lang yung long haul ang ina-address namin (So we’re not just addressing long haul flights), but the whole market,” he said.
Mr. Bautista also noted foreign investors are taking the company’s efforts to get a good rating “very positively.” He added that Skytrax looks at the overall customer experience with an airline — from the lounge to the in-flight service and amenities — to give it a high rating.
The flagship carrier was awarded by Skytrax a four-star rating in February this year, the only local airline to receive the certification from the rating organization.
Aside from improved aircraft features that cater to passengers, the two new planes are also expected to help the company cut on fuel costs by within 20% per seat kilometer basis as they have reduced fuel burn and emissions and lower maintenance costs.
Mr. Bautista said PAL is taking a hit from rising fuel prices and has refiled its fuel surcharge application in the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) last month. He noted PAL consumes up to 11 million barrels of fuel a year, hence a $10 increase in fuel prices would translate to a $110 million increase in the company’s fuel spending. — Denise A. Valdez