Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Spirit of Manila Airlines takes delivery of first rented aircraft

Paolo Luis G. Montecillo
BusinessWorld Online

LOCAL START-UP airline Spirit of Manila Airlines Corp. took delivery of its first aircraft last week, which it will use for planned flights to the Middle East and other Asian destinations from the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

In a statement, the company said it received its first plane, a 150-seater Boeing 737-300, on Jan. 20. It was renting the aircraft from Spirit Leasing Corp.

"This will usher in the preparation of Spirit of Manila Airlines of its intended operations at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in the Clark Free-port Zone," the company said.

The company signed the lease agreement with Spirit Leasing Corp. in August.

Meanwhile, Spirit Leasing Corporate Communications Consultant Eric A. Apolonio said negotiations between the company and the airline for the lease of larger planes to be used for long-haul flights to the Middle East were ongoing.

The airline, which was originally incorporated in January last year as an aircraft leasing firm, declined to say how much it was paying for the rent.

Mr. Apolonio, who is also the spokesman of Spirit of Manila, said the airline would need several more aircraft to serve the routes approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

The airline plans to start flights to Asian destinations in the first quarter.

In November, the CAB approved Spirit of Manila’s applications to fly to Taiwan and Macau in Asia, and Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai in the Middle East.

No other local airline flies to the Middle East. Flag carrier Philippine Airlines halted flights to the Middle East, which the company considers an unprofitable route.

Spirit of Manila is the latest Filipino-owned airline that will offer international and regional passenger services from Clark to key Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

The carrier recently bought a 10-hectare property at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark to house its fleet of Boeing aircraft. The company will soon start building large hangars for aircraft maintenance services to the airport’s regional and international carriers.

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