Philippine Airlines orders 54 Airbus aircraft

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Philippine Airlines (PAL) has placed a firm order for 54 Airbus aircraft in a deal worth $7 billion at list price.

The order includes 34 Airbus A321s, 10 Airbus A321neos and 10 of the new higher-weight Airbus A330-300s.

The aircraft, purchased as part of PAL's major fleet modernisation plan, are scheduled to be delivered starting in the second half of 2013. The first A321neo is expected to be delivered in 2017. Engine selections for the aircraft have not been announced.

PAL will operate the A321s on domestic and regional routes, enhancing the flag carrier's product, as well as support alliances with its partner airlines, it says in a statement.

The A330 widebodies will, meanwhile, be operated on "higher demand regional routes" and longer range services to the Middle East and Australia, PAL adds.

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© Airbus

"The orders we are placing with Airbus will play a key role in revitalising PAL, while growing trade and tourism in the country," PAL chairman Lucio Tan said in a statement.

"With these aircraft, we will be able to offer more passengers the industry has to offer across out Asia-Pacific network. At the same time, we will benefit from the low operating costs associated with new generation aircraft and the reduced impact on the environment."

Over the last few years, PAL has struggled to cope with the emergence of budget carrier Cebu Pacific, which now has the largest market share in the Philippines. The carrier had previously said that it wants to retire many of its older and uneconomical widebodies and replace them with a new fleet to compete more effectively on the long-haul markets. The aim is to purchase 100 new aircraft in total, PAL president Ramon Ang has reportedly said.

The order comes after Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp bought a 49% stake in the carrier with a $500 million injection earlier this year.

PAL operates a fleet of 38 aircraft with A319s, A320s, A330s, A340s, Boeing 747-400s and Boeing 777-300s.