By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) and Cebu Pacific are looking to launch new routes next year as both airlines expand their fleet.
By the end of the year, PAL said it will receive its 15th new aircraft by Jan. 1, and will prepare to receive at least four more by 2019.
“We received 14 (this year). The 15th is expected to fly in from Hamburg by Dec. 31 or Jan. 1st… The last one will be an (Airbus) A321neo (new engine option),” PAL Corporate Communications Vice-President Jose E. L. Perez de Tagle said in a text message on Thursday.
The new aircraft will bring to six the number of new A321neos PAL received this year, in addition to the four A350s, and five next-generation Bombardier Q400s.
Next year, PAL is expecting to take delivery of two more A350s and two Q400s. The flag carrier is also expecting to receive 15 A321neos between 2019 to 2024.
Earlier this month, Mr. Perez de Tagle told reporters the new aircraft are expected to boost the company’s long haul flights.
“With that, we really expect to continue expansion. Especially long haul. We hope to be able to add one more route at least in 2019 or early 2020,” he said, noting the destination is not yet final but they’re looking at European routes.
“By that time we will have the full long-haul fleet in our fleet. And then we will have beefed up the domestic and inter-island services. There will be some additional domestic routes, that’s for sure. We hope to increase also some regional routes, not just out of Manila but out of our other hubs like Cebu. So that, we hope to give you some news by first quarter,” Mr. Perez de Tagle added.
Cebu Pacific is also looking to receive five Airbus A320neos and some of its order of 32 A321neos next year.
Alexander G. Lao, the company’s vice-president for commercial planning, told reporters the new jets will be used for new domestic and international destinations.
“We’ll make the route announcements in due course… We’re looking more towards North Asia. And of course, continue to develop domestic,” he said, noting Japan is “an important pillar for us as far as North Asia is concerned.”
Mr. Lao added, Cebu Pacific is eyeing to utilize its other hubs outside Manila for the new routes.
“We continue to look at all our options. Clark is going to be attractive for us. Manila, if we’re going to get new slots, is always attractive. Cebu, certainly. So those are the hubs na tinitignan namin [that we’re looking at],” he said.
Both airlines said the acquisition of new planes may result to the phasing out of some of its aging aircraft, such as the A340s for PAL and A320s for Cebu Pacific.