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Philippine Airlines Eyes Fleet Renewal with New A350-1000s from Airbus

The Manila-based carrier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus to acquire nine A350-1000 planes

by Matteo Legnani

May 11, 2023

Photo: Philippine Airlines, Airbus A350-1000. Courtesy of Airbus

Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced its plans to revamp its long-haul fleet using brand-new Airbus A350s. The Manila-based carrier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus to acquire nine A350-1000 planes.

The new aircraft will increase capacity on popular routes, expand the airline’s network, and resume flights to Europe after several years of absence. The A350s will primarily serve flights to North America, including the East Coast and Canada.

Photo: Philippine Airlines, Airbus A350-900. Courtesy of Airbus

In their note, Airbus and PAL did not disclose when the first of the new jets will be delivered, nor the economic aspects of the deal. But Captain Stanley K. Ng, Chief Operating Officer at Philippines Airlines, explicitly indicated the task of the aircraft, whose range would enable the airline to fly non-stop transpacific and transpolar routes in both directions all year.

These will include some of the longest commercial flights in the world, such as those linking the Philippines with New York and Toronto. Moreover, PAL will be able to once again provide a direct link from the Philippines to Europe.

“The A350-1000 combines greater range capability with the capacity we need to cope with future demand. It’s the perfect aircraft to enable PAL to meet its expansion plans sustainably while offering passengers the highest levels of onboard comfort,” said the COO.

The A350-1000s will join two A350-900s already in service with the airline and currently flying to destinations in North America, Asia, and Australia. And, like their smaller siblings, they will have a three-cabin layout, including Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy.

Photo: Philippine Airlines, Boeing 777-300ER. Courtesy of Boeing

However, whether these new planes will replace some of the older Boeing 777-300ERs or be used solely to grow the fleet is yet to be defined. In the past, Philippine Airlines had an extensive long-haul fleet that included Boeing 747-400s, Airbus A340-300s and -600s, plus a larger number of A350s and Boeing 777-300ERs.

The airline had a global reach, with a network spread throughout Asia, Australia, North America, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, including cities like Rome, Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. However, a reorganization of the fleet and network to contain costs reduced its global presence in recent years, even before the pandemic.

Now, the MoU with Airbus renews PAL’s global ambitions, and the A350-1000’s combination of range and capacity makes it a very cost-effective aircraft, as much as to be chosen by Australian carrier Qantas as the perfect equipment for the launch of its Project Sunrise, which encompasses flight times of up to 21 hours.

Currently, PAL’s longest route is connecting non-stop New York JFK with Manila, listed at 17 hours. An Airbus A350-900 flies the route three times per week, but the A350-1000 will allow a larger number (30-40 more) of seats onboard and a cost-per-seat reduction.

Photo: Philippine Airlines, Airbus A350-900. Courtesy of Airbus

“Flying passengers farther and in greater comfort, the A350 brings a step-change in fuel efficiency and an immediate significant contribution to reduced emissions. These attributes have made the A350 the choice of leading airlines worldwide. We look forward to working closely with our long-standing customer Philippine Airlines, as it moves forward with its long-haul fleet modernization program” Christian Scherer, Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer, commented.

According to Airbus’ data, at the end of April 2023, the A350 Family had won 928 firm orders from 54 customers worldwide, with some 530 aircraft currently in the fleets of 40 airlines.