By Lailany P. Gomez – Philippine Airlines and Airbus signed Tuesday a three-year contract for the delivery of 54 aircraft worth $7 billion at list prices, a deal touted as the biggest in the country’s aviation history
PAL president Ramon Ang said the new fleet of single-aisle A321s and wide-body A330-300s were expected to be delivered in the next three years beginning 2013.
“We hope we should be able to get these aircraft delivered in the next three years. Today, we are buying 54 aircraft and we are still in talks to buy more. Our intention is to buy up to 100 aircraft, 26 of those to fly long-haul. We are buying. It’s not lease,” Ang told reporters in a news briefing at the Century Park Hotel in Manila.
The country’s biggest aircraft order includes 34 of Airbus’ existing A321 model, 10 of its in- development A321neo aircraft and 10 wide-body A330-300s.
PAL plans to use the A330s to fly to the Middle East and Australia. “With these aircraft we will be able to offer more passengers the best the industry has to offer across our 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,” he said.
Deliveries of the aircraft, some of which will be used by low- cost affiliate Air Philippines, will start as early as January. Airlines usually pay less than the list price for new planes.
Ang said the deal included options for more aircraft and talks were still under way with Boeing Co. as PAL works on plans to buy 100 planes. Billionaire Lucio Tan and San Miguel, the carrier’s two main shareholders, will provide $1 billion to help fund the fleet plan, he said earlier.
PAL Holdings Inc., Philippine Air’s parent, rose 0.7 percent to P7.15 Tuesday, the highest level since Aug. 8. The stock gained 17 percent in the past year.
San Miguel, the nation’s largest company by revenue, agreed to buy a 49-percent stake in PAL for $500 million earlier this year, supporting its goal to increase sales to P1 trillion by 2016.
The investment will help PAL raise funds for newer planes and increase routes after losing market to budget carrier Cebu Air Inc. and facing competition from AirAsia Bhd. and Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd.
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