PAL Express to begin medium, long-haul services this year

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Philippine carrier PAL Express plans to start medium and long-haul services with Airbus A330 aircraft later this year.

This will put the airline, which is affiliated with flag carrier Philippine Airlines, squarely against market leader Cebu Pacific which will also start medium and long-haul services this year.

PAL Express, known as AirPhil Express until it was rebranded earlier on 14 March, will fly to Dubai from Manila starting November, say officials from the airline at Routes Asia 2013. In January, it also applied for rights to start thrice weekly services to Kuwait.

The plan is part of a strategy by the new investors in Philippine Airlines and PAL Express, which includes San Miguel Corp, to focus the carriers on their respective niches.

Full-service carrier Philippine Airlines will continue with its plans to increase frequencies on its existing services and add new points. These include additional services to Australia and potentially Europe, if the existing restrictions are lifted, PAL executives say.

PAL Express, on the other hand, will focus on both domestic and regional services initially as the company tries to claw back market share from Cebu Pacific. Medium and long-haul services will be introduced as the airline secures A330s from Philippine Airlines.

Data from Flightglobal Pro shows that PAL Express operates 15 Airbus A320s, and nine Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 and Q400 turboprops. Philippine Airlines operates 19 A320 family aircraft, eight A330-300s, four A340-300s, five Boeing 747-400s and four 777-300ERs. It also has orders for 44 Airbus A321s and A321neos, 20 A330-300s and two 777-300ERs.