CAPA Analysis: PAL Pax Volume To Grow 20% This Year

AN AVIATION think tank said Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) is on track to grow its passenger volume by an annual 20% this year, and will have more opportunities to boost its long-haul operations in late 2016.

“PAL is on track to carry about 6 million international passengers in 2015, a 50% increase compared to 2012,” the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said in a report released over the weekend.

“For the second consecutive year PAL will likely end 2015 with annual international passenger growth of about 20%.”

For the first half of the year, the flag carrier ferried 2.9 million international passengers, higher than Cebu Pacific’s 1.9 million and Philippines AirAsia’s 357,000, CAPA said, citing data from the Civil Aeronautics Board.

CAPA expects the carrier to “focus” its long-haul expansion on North American routes, which generated “most” of its profits and where it sees “relatively limited” competition.

Among PAL’s North American routes include Vancouver and Toronto in Canada, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu and New York in the United States.

PAL’s listed parent firm, PAL Holdings, Inc., reversed last year’s P322.16-million net loss as it swung to a P247.9-million profit in the third quarter, helped by the peso’s depreciation against the dollar and higher passenger revenues from new routes. For the first nine months, its net income ballooned by an annual 2,465% to P6.11 billion.

“PAL is planning to expand capacity to mainland North America over the next few years, a sensible move as competition will likely continue intensifying to the Middle East, Australia and, soon, Hawaii,” CAPA explained.

The airline also announced that its re-fleeting program will likely involve adding eight Boeing 787 or Airbus A350 XWB aircraft through a lease or purchase agreement to be sealed within the year to replace six of its existing Airbus A340, and “possibly” add two more of these, with delivery expected by 2017 or 2018.

PAL has yet to issue a formal decision on which plane to acquire, but in its report, CAPA said “PAL is close to committing to at least six A350-900s for delivery from 2017. A formal announcement is expected by the end of 2015.”

PAL Holdings President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista did not confirm the CAPA statement. Sought for comment, he said in a mobile phone reply on Sunday: “We have not issued such statement.”

The flag carrier operates a fleet of 59 aircraft, composed of 32 A320 family aircraft and 27 widebodies, across 36 destinations.

Shares in PAL Holdings ended unchanged last Friday at P4.52 apiece.

Source: Daphne J. Magturo,

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