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PAL Holdings, Inc.
PAL suspends Cebu-Singapore flights

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is suspending its Cebu-Singapore flight operations in March, but increasing the frequency of the Cebu-Bangkok service as part of rationalization of routes.

“Effective March 25, as part of the airline’s route rationalization moves, PAL will suspend its Cebu-Singapore operations and increase its Cebu-Bangkok flight frequency from thrice weekly to daily,” PAL said in a statement.

Passengers with tickets for the Cebu-Singapore flights from March 25, onwards may rebook to get Cebu-Manila-Singapore or Singapore-Manila-Cebu flights within 30 days from the original flight date without penalties or charges.

Affected passengers may also opt to refund the cost of their tickets within 30 days from original flight date with refunding charges waived.

“The airline is seeking the understanding of its passengers in view of the inconvenience brought about by this latest development on their original travel plans,” PAL said.

While it is suspending the Cebu-Singapore service, March 25 would mark the start of PAL’s daily service between Cebu and Bangkok.

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Flight PR738 will leave Cebu at 9:10 p.m. and arrive in Bangkok at 12:10 a.m.  (local time) the following day.

Meanwhile, flight PR739 will depart Bangkok at 1:30 a.m. (local time) and be in Cebu at 6:30 a.m.

Earlier this month, PAL suspended services on the Kalibo-Guangzhou-Kalibo route in line with the restructuring of the flight network in the region.

While it stopped operating services on that route, PAL would mount an additional Manila-Guangzhou flight every Saturday effective Feb.1.

“In consideration of the current market conditions, the additional Manila-Guangzhou operation will ensure that efficient air transport services are continuously provided between points in the Philippines and Guangzhou,” PAL said.

PAL is also set to expand services in different cities in China to promote tourist and business travel.

The carrier is looking to expand operations in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Quanzhou (Jinjiang), Chengdu, Xiamen and Guangzhou from various Philippine destinations.

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Lucio Tan says PAL Holdings to conduct re-IPO in 2nd quarter

THE COUNTRY’S flag carrier intends to push through with a plan to sell shares to the public this year, the Philippine’s second-richest man said.

PAL Holdings, Inc. Chairman Lucio C. Tan, Sr. said in an interview last week the airline operator can embark on the re-initial public offering (IPO) in the “second quarter” of the year. He did not elaborate.

PAL entered the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2007 via the “backdoor” with a takeover of Baguio Gold Holdings Corp. Proceeds from the share sale will bankroll its expansion.

PAL is undertaking a capital restructuring to clean up the company’s balance sheet, as it seeks the entry of a new investor group to help the company manage its fleet and reach five-star full service carrier status by 2020.

PAL can give up a stake equivalent to a maximum percentage allowable by law. Under the Philippine Constitution, foreigners cannot own more than 40% of certain industries, including transportation.

The company secured the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the valuation of shares for a proposed share-swap transaction with Zuma Holdings and Management Corp., another company controlled by the tycoon and owner of budget carrier Air Philippines Corp. The transaction will allow PAL to issue 19 shares for each Zuma share surrendered.

The consolidation of Mr. Tan’s airline business is a move seen helping increase PAL’s appeal to investors.

The corporate regulator likewise cleared the decrease of PAL’s authorized capital stock to P13.5 billion from P30 billion, resulting from the reduction in par value of each share to 45 centavos from P1.

The SEC further approved the increase in par value of each share to P1 from 45 centavos, as a result of the decrease in the number of shares corresponding to the authorized and subscribed capital stock of the company.

Despite higher revenues, PAL booked a comprehensive loss of P3.55 billion for the first nine months of 2017, a reversal of the P2.96 billion booked in the previous year, because of higher expenses as a result of the increase in flight frequencies and introduction of new routes. 

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PAL to start non-stop Manila-Brisbane flights in March

PHILIPPINE Airlines announced on Friday that it will be fielding non-stop flights between Manila and Brisbane starting March 27. By removing the stopover at Darwin, flight time will be cut down to less than seven hours from the current nine hours and 20 minutes, PAL said in a statement.

The non-stop Manila-Brisbane flights will operate four times a week, initially using the Airbus A340, with the newly acquired longer-range Airbus A321 NEOs taking over later in the first half of the year.

PAL reasoned that more direct flights could lead to an improvement in tourism between the two destinations.

“Queensland is also home to a growing number of migrant and expatriate Filipinos. Flying direct to Manila will help encourage Queensland-based Australians to consider holiday trips to the Philippines,” PAL said in the release.

As a consequence of the new non-stop route, PAL’s flights to Darwin will be cancelled starting March 25. PAL reasoned that it would be too uneconomical to operate Manila-Darwin services unless market conditions improve.

“In the meantime, PAL will continue expansion to other key Australia destinations [such as] Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.”

Last year, PAL shifted to non-stop flights to Toronto, Auckland, Doha, Kuwait City, and Jeddah. 

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PAL to increase flights, routes to China

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) will boost the number of flights and add routes to China starting March, as the government targets to attract two million Chinese tourists annually.

In a statement, PAL said starting March 25, it increase the flights between the Philippines and Greater China to 103 times weekly, from the current 103 times weekly.

The flag carrier will start daily flights for Manila-Jinjiang, and Manila-Guangzhou (Canton) routes, from five times weekly on each route.

Data from the Department of Tourism (DoT) showed China was the Philippines’ second-biggest source of tourists in 2017 with 968,447 arrivals, 43% higher from the previous year.

The DoT attributed the higher number of Chinese tourists to “improved ties between the Philippines and China, added air routes, and the visa upon arrival (VUA) option for Chinese nationals.”

PAL said it will launch new flights to China in the next few months, particularly Tianjin, Shenzhen and Nanning.

The airline is also planning to mount direct flights to Puerto Princesa, Palawan from both Tianjin and Shenzhen, and to Boracay (via Kalibo) from Shenzhen and Nanning.

At present, PAL flies from Manila to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau and Xiamen. Its other routes include Cebu-Beijing, Kalibo-Beijing, Kalibo-Chengdu, Kalibo-Nanjing, Kalibo-Shanghai Pudong, and Kalibo-Hangzhou.

The government is hoping to attract more Chinese tourists this year.

“We’re expecting to double our tourist arrivals because of increased tourist arrivals from China,” Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque , Jr. said during a briefing in Baguio City.

“Starting this month, in February, there will be direct charter flight from Xiamen, in Fujian Province in China to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. This is according to the Department of Tourism. In addition, the DoT reported that in order to provide better air connectivity from major tourist source markets to the Philippines, another new route from Tianjin China to Puerto Princesa in Palawan is already on its way,” he added.

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PAL earns 4-star rating from Skytrax

FLAGSHIP carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has been certified as a four-star airline by international air transport rating organization Skytrax.

The four-star rating means that the airline company has excellent standards in terms of production and staff services across different assessment categories for both onboard and airport environments.

PAL is the only local airline company to get the four-star rating. There are 40 other airlines in the world which have received this rating.

PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime J. Bautista credited this to their upgrades in the last two years.

“Since 2016, we have embarked on a journey of rolling out in-flight and on-ground innovations, opened new routes, increase connectivity across PAL’s route network, added new aircraft to our fleet and importantly, invested in the Buong Pusong Alaga (whole-hearted training of all our cabin crew, ground crew, and service providers domestically and internationally in order to enhance the passenger travel experience and earn a higher Skytrax rating,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.

Since 2016, PAL has been adding airplanes to its fleet, with a current total of 88 aircraft. It has also renovated eight Airbus A330s to have tri-class cabins.

PAL will be launching non-stop services to Brisbane, New York, as well as flights to India and additional routes to China and Japan within the year.

By the next quarter, PAL will be opening its two-storey, 1,250-sq.m. International Mabuhay Lounge at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.

Skytrax chief executive officer Edward Plaisted was quoted as saying that the new rating PAL recognizes the airline’s “improvements in terms of product change and development and enhancement of the front-line staff service.

“New and retrofitted aircraft have played an important part in the quality improvement process, and this looks set to develop further when Philippine Airlines introduces the A350 into their fleet,” he added.

“We look for consistency of quality in the four-star rating, and we look to Philippine Airlines to ensure this is duly delivered to customers.”

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PAL says investor talks delayed but fleet expansion still on

Philippine Airlines said on Tuesday its ongoing talks with a potential foreign investor will take “a few more months” to conclude but it vowed to continue expanding operations despite challenges such as congestion at the country’s main airport.

The flag carrier expects to take delivery of 15 planes this year, including four Airbus A350s, under its $2-billion expansion program that will make its fleet one of the youngest in Asia. It plans to phase out the older ones in its current fleet of 88 aircraft.

“It will take a few more months because talking to investors is not really easy,” Jaime J. Bautista, president of the airline’s operator PAL Holdings, Inc., said in a media briefing.

He was earlier hoping to seal a deal with a foreign strategic partner, who may get a minority stake in PAL, last year.

“We are not promising any date. We will just surprise you,” he said, on when the foreign investor will likely come in. He declined to give further information, citing a confidentiality agreement, when asked whether the potential investor was an airline.

“They (potential foreign partner) want to look at profitability of the airline,” he said. “Of course they want to have a good return on their investment and also to have access (to) our market.”

PAL Holdings posted a comprehensive loss of P3.55 billion ($68 million) for the nine months to September last year as rise in costs, including fuel, outpaced revenue growth.

Mr. Bautista said PAL Holdings will also book as additional expenses last year the P6 billion it paid the government in the last quarter to settle navigational fees and other charges.

He said a congested Manila international airport was also a challenge, as he welcomed news that a consortium of seven Philippine conglomerates has offered to transform the airport into a regional hub and expand its capacity.

Philippine Airlines expects to carry about 16.5 million passengers this year, from last year’s total of almost 15 million, he said. 

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Philippine Airlines seeks to bring back fuel surcharge

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) is seeking the government’s go-signal to impose a fuel surcharge on its tickets to recover costs from the sharp rise in oil prices.

PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said the flag carrier filed a petition with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in December, and hopes it will be granted this year.

“We have filed a petition for fuel surcharge, it’s being acted by the CAB,” Mr. Bautista told reporters on Feb. 13.

He did not disclose the amount, but noted the company is spending more than $80 per barrel of fuel.

“It’s not very high, just to allow us to recover a portion of the additional costs of fuel,” Mr. Bautista said of the fuel surcharge requested.

The PAL chief noted jet fuel prices have steadily gone up since 2016. For airlines, fuel is the one of the biggest operating expenses.

Mr. Bautista said PAL flight tickets sold out of Hong Kong and the United States, for example, have fuel surcharge, as other carriers in those countries charge an additional fee for fuel costs.

PAL Holdings, Inc., the listed operator of the flag carrier, recorded P3.47-billion net loss attributable to parent in the January to September period last year, with fuel costs adding on to expenses of the company.

The company is also expecting further losses as it paid P6 billion of dues to the government last year.

Aviation intelligence services firm Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation earlier said airfares are poised to increase globally this year due to rising oil prices.

PAL is expecting the delivery this year of four Airbus A350-900s, six A321neos, and five Bombardier Q400s, cumulatively worth $2 billion, as it aims to secure a five-star rating by 2020.

It is also in ongoing talks with a strategic investor which may get a minority stake in the airline. 

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PAL considers acquisition of A350-1000 jet

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) is considering the acquisition of the new Airbus A350-1000, amid the flag carrier’s aggressive fleet expansion program.

PAL President Jaime J. Bautista on Thursday said the airline can earn savings with the new long-range aircraft, the largest of the Airbus A350 series.

“It’s a bigger version of the 350-900. Its advantage, if we take delivery of this, the engine is the same. A little bit bigger but there is commonality, the spare parts. With training, the pilot can fly the same aircraft. So, in terms of pilot training, cabin crew training, we have savings in training. There are savings on spare parts because there is commonality in the airline, is very important,” Mr. Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of the A350-1000 demonstration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2.

In 2016, the flag carrier ordered six A350-900s. PAL expected to take delivery of four of the A350s this year.

Mr. Bautista said there is an option to convert the A350-900s to A350-1000s.

“We can. I’m sure. We have an order of six option. That option, I’m sure Airbus will be happy if we convert those to 350-1000,” he added, noting the lease price is $200 million.

Airbus is set to deliver the first A350-1000 aircraft to Qatar Airways on Feb. 20.

Airbus brought the A350-1000 to Manila as part of its Asia-Pacific road show. The Airbus A350-1000 is the newest product in the A350 WXB family. The twin-aisle aircraft is seven meters longer than the A350-900 and can seat 366 passengers in three-class configuration.

This year, PAL is expected to take delivery of six A321neos, and five Bombardier Q400s. The $2-billion fleet expansion comes amid the airline’s efforts to secure five-star rating by 2020.

PAL earlier said it is targeting to carry 16.5 million passengers this year.

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Philippine Airlines puts NAIA-2 annex plan on hold

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) is putting on hold its plan to build an annex to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, after the recent proposal of the “super consortium” of conglomerates to rehabilitate the whole airport system.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista said the flag carrier is “still in discussion” with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) regarding the property where it plans to build an annex.

“Still in discussion but when the consortium takes over they will have to work with PAGCOR. So yes, back seat for now. [Including the plan for another terminal?] Yes, yes,” Mr. Bautista told reporters last week.

Last September, PAL revived its proposal for a NAIA Terminal 2 annex, which will be built on a 16-hectare area that includes the now-defunct Philippine Village Hotel, the former Nayong Pilipino complex and the PAGCOR property.

However, PAGCOR has said the flag carrier cannot build its proposed P20-billion ($400-million) annex   on the property adjacent to Terminal 2 since it does not own it.

The gaming industry regulator had said that PAL has been only leasing the 10-hectare property from PAGCOR and does not have a right to use it for any purpose other than as “an aircraft parking ramp/apron facility,” as stipulated under a lease agreement signed between the airline and the previous management of PAGCOR, which expires in 2033.

The “super consortium” of conglomerates Aboitiz Infra Capital, Inc., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Alliance Global Group, Inc., AEDC, Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investment Corp., submitted to the government on Feb. 13 a proposal for the rehabilitation of NAIA to turn it into a regional hub.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo told reporters last week that evaluation of the unsolicited proposal may take two months.

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