PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) will bank on the modernization of its fleet, enhancement of its product and systems, and a push into new markets to better compete, the flag carrier’s top two executives said.
At the stockholders meeting held recently, PAL chairman Lucio Tan and president Jaime Bautista in a joint statement said, "The whole industry is poised for growth but the future is laden with more of the challenges that we faced and surmounted these past years."
To strengthen its competitive position, PAL will revamp its fleet, starting with the narrow-body component. The airline has contracted up to 20 brand-new Airbus A320-family aircraft, with the first (an A319-100) for delivery next month. Delivery of firm orders and leased units will be completed by 2008.
PAL also plans to add five aircraft to its regional wide-body fleet and three to its long-range wide-body fleet in the short to medium term. The candidate aircraft for these acquisitions are still being evaluated.
To keep the current long-haul fleet attuned to the needs of the market, Tan and Bautista said PAL would soon embark on a reconfiguration of its inflight product towards bi-class (business and economy class) from the present tri-class service (first, business and economy).
Starting late 2007, with the phaseout of first class service on long-haul flights, PAL’s Mabuhay (business) class will be upgraded, with cocoon-type seats and audio-video on-demand (AVOD) inflight entertainment sys-tem installed. AVOD will also be available in economy.
PAL also plans to broaden its presence in China and India. It eyes increased frequency to Beijing from the current four times weekly to daily. Shanghai and Xiamen are the other PAL points in China. An inaugural service to an Indian destination is being studied.