Philippine Airlines in discussions with Airbus and Boeing as it aims to boost services

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is in talks with Airbus and Boeing about adding widebody aircraft so it can expand.

The airline says the aircraft types being evaluated comprise the Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 777 and a deal is likely to be consummated within the next two years.

The carrier's widebody fleet currently consists of eight Airbus A330s, four A340-300s and five Boeing 747-400s. PAL also still holds deferred orders for four 747-400s from a 1993 contract.

It has issued a press statement saying it "plans to add five aircraft to its regional widebody fleet and three to its long-range fleet in the short to medium term". However, the airline tells Flight International that an internal document says the plan is to add five long-range aircraft and two medium-range aircraft by 2010.

PAL needs to add widebodies because "our fleet is already constrained just serving the routes we have now".

It also needs to have capacity to expand its international schedule. PAL president, Jaime Bautista, has said that the airline wants to increase its four-times-weekly Manila-Vancouver service to daily and increase its Manila-Nagoya service to five-times-weekly from thrice-weekly.

It is unable to increase services to Vancouver because there are no traffic rights available under the current Canada-Philippines air services agreement although Bautista is lobbying the Philippines government to "negotiate with Canada on that", says the airline.

China and India are also a top priority. PAL hopes to increase the frequency of its Manila-Beijing service to daily from four-times-weekly as early and next month. Services to Indian points such as Bangalore and Mumbai are also being considered.

PAL's move to evaluate new widebodies comes after it decided on its future narrowbody fleet and announced in December an order for nine Airbus A320-family aircraft and leases on another four.

Source: Flight International