FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said on Monday that it is expecting up to a 20% increase in the number of its passengers arriving at Terminals 1 and 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“Normally, the arrival level at Terminal 2 is at 18,000 daily, and then 6,700 arrivals in Terminal 1. So, we are expecting a 15% to 20% increase because that is the pegged increase during the pre-pandemic,” PAL Spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said in the Laging Handa briefing.

Ms. Villaluna said the airline is expecting to reach the pre-pandemic arrival level during the Holy Week, citing passengers’ revenge travel.

“With the revenge travel, we are hoping that we can have the same level or even more because this is the first Holy Week after the pandemic period that the travel borders are finally opened and there is easing of travel restrictions,” she added.

This Holy Week, PAL will allow passengers to check in as early as six hours before their flight from the previous three hours.

“This would create a spread in terms of the volume of passengers utilizing the check-in counters. So imbes na lahat three hours nagkukumpuni sa check-in counters, ngayon naka-spread within a five- to six-hour period (So instead of everyone going to check-in counters within three hours, now it will be spread within a five- to six-hour period),” Ms. Villaluna said.

At present, the airline has been operating 92% of its pre-pandemic number of flights, she said.

“Pre-pandemic, we are operating an average of 300 flight legs, and we are currently operating 92% of pre-pandemic level,” she said.

In 2022, PAL reported an operating income of $297.2 million and a total comprehensive income of $196.9 million. Its first positive bottom line since 2019 was supported by consolidated revenues of $2.57 billion in 2022, more than two times the $1.21 billion in 2021.

“We have registered positive income for all four quarters of 2022, and this is a continuing profit-taking streak from our performance in 2021,” Ms. Villaluna said.

“We attribute the positive performance to the support of our stakeholders, the support of the flying public, the support of the Philippine government, and the support of creditors, stakeholders and employees of PAL,” she added.

In 2022, PAL flights achieved an average passenger load factor of 72%, higher than the 42.6% load factor it recorded in 2021.

The flag carrier’s total number of passengers in 2022 reached 9.2 million, which it said increased by 214% or more than three times 2021’s around 2.92 million.

Analysts said the airline benefited from revenge travel as restrictions worldwide ease.

“PAL’s operating income was up on revenge travel as global travel restrictions ease, enabling a more than doubling of carriage level plus the benefit of restructured debt,” First Metro Investment Corp. Head of Research Cristina S. Ulang said in a Viber message.

“Consistent with overall trends in the airline industry, PAL itself recognized its first positive full-year operating income since the pandemic as global air travel continued to improve with the easing of covid restrictions,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a Viber message.

First Grade Finance, Inc. Managing Director Astro C. del Castillo said the airline also benefited from the demand for business travel.

“Just like any other industry, it’s benefiting from the more open economy as things are getting back to normal. PAL is benefiting from the demand to travel not only for leisure but also for business,” Mr. del Castillo added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile