Monday, 29 March 2010

Air Philippines to buy 20 new airplanes over next four years

Lenie Lectura
Business Mirror

AIR Philippines, the low-cost partner of Philippine Airlines (PAL), is acquiring a total of 20 new airplanes over the next four years.  

The purchases will complement the carrier’s current fleet which is composed of eight Bombardier Q400 and Q300 turbo-prop aircraft.

The company re-launched operations under the brand name Airphil Express yesterday with the acquisition of two Airbus A320-200 aircraft.

The new planes, sporting the new Airphil Express livery and configured mono-class with 177 seats, started flying yesterday from Manila to Iloilo, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa and Cagayan de Oro, signaling the resumption of jet service to these domestic points.

Aside from the two leased narrow-body jets, four brand-new A320s will also be delivered from Airbus’s manufacturing facility in Toulouse, France, between September and November. Four more A320 aircraft will join the fleet next year, five in 2012 and another five in 2013.

“We want to position Airphil Express as a low-cost carrier offering quality service,” said David Lim, president. “The modernization of our fleet will hopefully enable us to increase market share while the industry braces for the eventual rebound,” he said in a statement.

The route network of Airphil Express will continue to expand as it adds to its existing flights to the following domestic destinations: Tuguegarao, Naga, San Jose (Mindoro), Busuanga, Boracay (Caticlan), Catarman, Calbayog, Tacloban, Ormoc, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Surigao, Dipolog, Cagayan de Oro, Ozamiz, Zamboanga, Davao and Masbate.

More domestic points will be added to the route network when more jets join the fleet, said Airphil Express in a statement.

The two new Airbus units will service Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Iloilo routes twice daily. It is introducing a year-round promo fare for the said routes. Manila to Cagayan de Oro-Manila fare costs P1,864; Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila, P1,418; Manila-Bacolod-Manila, P1,060; and P882 for Manila-Iloilo-Manila.

The airline currently flies to routes that are also being served by rival Cebu Pacific. An airline official said the new Airphil Express “will give our competitor a hard time.”

“Air Philippines will give Cebu Pacific a serious competition. Air Philippines will pretty much capture the market being served by Cebu Pacific. It may even go regional this year,” added the official, who decline to be identified.

Both PAL and Airphil Express are looking to strengthen operations with modest fleet and route-network build-ups despite predictions by the International Air Transport Association of a dip in industry earnings due to higher fuel prices.

The two airlines have had close complementation in flight operations, feeding passengers into each other’s networks and ensuring connections via their joint hubs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Manila and Mactan International Airport in Cebu.

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