Philippine Airlines Evaluates the A350 Aircraft

Philippine Airlines will consider the Airbus A350 aircraft as a possible contender when it places an order for more long-haul aircraft. The national flag carrier requires additional aircraft if it plans to expand its operations further in Europe and North America.

airbus a350-900
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The Airbus A350 was recently in Manila as part of an Airbus Sales Tour showcasing the aircraft in the region. Executives from both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific were present to tour the aircraft and meet with Airbus officials.

According to PAL President Jaime Bautista, the flag carrier is in need of long-haul aircraft after retiring its Boeing 747 fleet. "There will be a need for us to get more long-haul aircraft for expansion to North America and Europe," said Bautista. "Of course, we will study the A350 very carefully."

The Airbus A350 is the European aircraft manufacturer's answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Both aircraft compete against one another in the medium-sized wide-body aircraft market. Airlines across Asia have been placing orders for both aircraft as they convert their fleets to modern fuel-efficient aircraft.

According to Mike Bausor, Airbus Marketing Director for the A350, the aircraft offers operating costs that are 25 percent less than older aircraft in terms of fuel consumption. With Asia expected to account for 36 percent of global passenger traffic by 2035, the A350 is ideally suited for Asian carriers.

Airbus currently has 780 firm orders for the A350 aircraft from forty clients. The aircraft ranges in price from US $301 to $350 million per aircraft. No carriers in the Philippines have made any commitments to order the aircraft as of yet.

Airbus officials state that one other competitive advantage for the aircraft is that the A350 can be flown by pilots already certified to fly the A330 aircraft. Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines currently operate A330 aircraft in their fleet.

Cebu Pacific was less enthusiastic about the aircraft, suggesting that it likely did not meet the needs of the budget carrier at this time. "The A350 is very ideal for long-haul," said Lance Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Pacific. "We don't have any long-haul routes at this point that require this range. I think we are just taking a look at the aircraft now and evaluating it among other aircraft."

Gokongwei added that any future aircraft purchase would need to align with the company's network strategy. The company currently operates short-haul and medium-haul flights utilising Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft. Gokongwei also denied any plans in the near future to serve London or the United States mainland. "Everything is under review at this point," said Gokongwei.

However, PAL President Jaime Bautista revealed that Rome could be the next destination in Europe for the Philippine flag carrier.

33 comments:

  1. PAL should get both the 787 and the A350. They can fill different niches and they can complement each other. The 787 could be used to launch long, thin routes, while the A350 could be used as their A340 replacements. The 777X, on the other hand, could be their 747 replacement.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. B748 & A388, though would be very "pretty" in PAL livery and have the range and pax capabilities, won't work because they have significantly reduced cargo capacity compared to 77W...a major source of revenue.

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    3. These quad engines r 'asiong aksaya' gas guzzlers n not practical... PAL can jst stick to those twins WB..

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    4. B747-8i and A380? Only amateurs would say something like that. The biggest aircraft that they could actually handle would be A350-1000.

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    6. (Sigh) You Filipinos really don't get it do you? While the Boeing 747-8i is much more fuel efficient than the Boeing 747-400, maintenance will cost more because you will work with 4 Engines instead of 2. Unlike the Boeing 777s, the Boeing 747 always requires a stop-over if the plane is heavy.

      The A380. First of all, NAIA-2 was not designed to handle a superjumbo like the A380. If they were to park this at NAIA-2, they will be forced to remove the other planes next to them just for this plane to park. Second, other airplanes on the Runway will stay on the ramp while the A380 is taxi'ing. Third, Manila is not yet a high-yield destination. If you can't fill up those seats on the A380, you will be bleeding money. PAL is not going to risk that until they see marker demand.

      If you want PAL to buy an A380. Manila should ramp up their game and turn it into a high yield destination. Also, tell them to get started on a new Airport already. NAIA is bound to burst soon. At least with a new Airport, they can design the terminals to support the A380.

      PAL should be looking at the Airbus A350 XWB or Boeing 787 Dreamliner as their A340 replacement.

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    7. When the new airport in Manila will be completed probably there will be no brand new A380 available as Airbus is planning to stop production of this planes! Or perhaps they will lease the ones available in the market.

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    8. Possibly.

      Either way, the new Airport should have support for the A380. Even if PAL is not going to order them, operators that want to bring the A380 to Manila shouldn't pose a problem. Emirates wants to send their A380 to Manila due to high demand, but they can't due to NAIA's poor infrastructure.

      I know someone who works at NAIA and there were talks about Korean Air sending their A380 to Manila a while back. Most likely they can't send it here because of the problems i already mentioned earlier.

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    9. The reason why Boeing launched the 777X is because its 747-8i is not selling well, with the Airbus A380 leading the market in the jumbo jet category. If PAL wants to go high capacity and ultra-long haul, then the 777X will be the best choice in the long term as it is easier to fill up, with the same capacity as the 747-400 but only twin-engined and more fuel-efficient, could even potentially replace their 777-300ER as the flagship in the future. And they could reintroduce their first class seats on the new aircraft. But for now, the better choice would be the 787 or the A350 as these are already available, and the 777X is yet to enter service in 2021. There is some speculation that Boeing has already wooed PAL when Aquino visited the US last year, that's why Jaime Bautista is very careful in his words and didn't make firm orders for the A350 immediately during the tour. If PAL chooses the 787, then they will have no difficulty in ordering the 777X because of the commonality, just like the A350 to the A330. The production of the 777 is nearing its end as Boeing now shifts production for the 777X.

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  2. Wow. So unrealistic.

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  3. 787 for North American routes, A350 for European routes. PAL will be happy. Airbus will be happy. Boeing will be happy. Everyone will be happy.

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    1. one kind of aircraft is better for maintenance reasons

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  4. PAL must consider leasing long haul aircraft as it orders new planes, namely the A350. The A340 is already causing serious issues out there. The canceled flight from JFK due to mechanical failures with the same problem the following day's flight leading to a $10 million lawsuit. Old aircraft, bad for business.

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  5. PAL has yet to grow its capacity for the long haul which specific variants of the B787 (-8) and A350 (-800 & -900) will help address those needs. Hearing that PAL wanted to increase their capacity in North America and serve passengers non-stop from the East Coast would involve the Boeing 777X, which has an amazing range that exceeds the 777-200LR.

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  6. It just make no sense day-dreaming all of these type will be acquired by PR at the same time.

    It's better for PR to operate in single type for their long-haul fleet than having both. That is for practicality and efficiency.
    And it should be choosing only one variant between A350-900 and 1000 as the later has more modifications in wing span and engine and maintain one variant would be operationally efficient. This is one of the reasons why Emirates dropped their order because of the variance operating these 2 versions as they were pushing commonality especially in the engines between the two.

    IMO, A350-1000 would be a good candidate given that:
    - It has the extra range
    - Natural replacement for A343
    - Improvements vs B773-ER economics, a future replacement.

    Seeing the expansion plan for PAL being modest, the availability for these plane would be suitable for them and the deliveries could be spread out for the replacement of their current long-haul fleet.

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    1. Day-dreaming is right. I must hand it to PAL for operating the A320s on these longer hauls. Personally, I don't like it, but the economics are there and gives them flexibility that they need in their network. They should go with one type - whether it's Boeing or Airbus.

      The mishmash of fleet in the long haul is a problem. It's an expensive pain to schedule and passengers like consistency. Hopefully - one of the manufacturers will cut them a deal so they can have the same flexibility in long haul.

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  7. But pa mag evaluate ng matagal e obvious naman na kailangan na talagang palitan yung luma, kung mag oorder man lang yun ng top of the line na variant para more flexibility, A350-1000. Anyways order panaman lang and for sure they have the resources for the ordering cost, it will take a year or two for the actual delivery.

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  8. You see, Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific is not saying anything about A350 because he is trying to fly his planes to North America where Boeing is located. It means that he needs to court the USA to gain access to it and politics rule first; meaning, he has to buy Boeing planes before he is secure to operate here in the US of A. Capitalism bigtime???

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    1. You mis-understood what Lance said. He's interested in the A350, but he choose to not order them because he has no where to fly them. What use is the A350 if he can't find a destination to fly them?

      Cebu Pacific is trying to secure slots for Guam and Honolulu as well as ETOPS certification for the A320 and A330.

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    2. And besides, he can fly to west coast using A333 via HNL..

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    3. Yes, he can, however. If they wish to survive in the mainland US only with an A330, they need to get at least fifth freedom rights between HNL-LAX/SFO.

      Personally, i do not think Cebu Pacific is ready to fly to mainland US. If you are going to fly for more than 8 Hours, you might as well pay the extra money for comfort on Full-Service carriers.

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    4. We'll that's what they are selling, cheap, uncomfortable, long-haul flights...

      Anyways, if they will go thru that route, i just wonder how fast they will axe it also.

      Or they may chose to fly, MNL-HNL-YYC... They don't have competitor to this route, the question is just the 5th freedom rights...

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  9. I can just imagine how PAL president Bautista is overwhelmed to read all these blogs and comments about the planes that PAL need to replace A340, etcetera, etcetera. But I am 99 percent sure that he is worried more about PAL revenues todate and how to pay mortgage and interest rates from previous PAL transactions with lessors, etc. Good job, bloggersl, but I hope Bautista can digest all what you are saying now......

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    1. You are also forgetting the maintenance cost of the A340 which is putting a burdin on PAL. I'm sure in his mind, he wants to get rid of the A340 from the fleet. It's wasting gas and high maintenance cost.

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    2. That is why he is considering it not just because its a beautiful plane, but off course of the timing and the risk involved. If you need to get slots in the next 3 years for these plane, you need to book you order now as back log is open until 2018-2019...

      You are not just picking up apples in the grocery stores or ordering some pizza on the phone.

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  10. With the recent developments on the PR flight to JFK cancelled, they should consider this urgently and carefully..

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  11. Difficulties will continue with PAL, who just rely on Filipinos to fly with them. The problem is that many Pinoys refuse to fly PAL because the competition provide better airline service, newer widebody jets, free ife's, sumptuous inflight food, free drinks/wines/liquors, etc., etc.

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    1. hooray for competition. not putting ifes was a very good move for PAL. Plus utilizing that jurassic a340 instead of acquiring 777,787 and a350s was the best future thinking move they could possibly make

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  12. Cebu Pacific has been approved to fly to North America, therefore, it is questionable whether it will push thru its plans to fly LCC style to that destination. Why? Because it is a long and tedious flight (given that it flies the A350 or B787) and competition from 3 major US carriers, 4 Chinese carriers, 2 Korean carriers, 2 Taiwan carriers, 2 Japanese carriers and Philippine Airlines. Think deeply about it!

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