Philippine Airlines (PAL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for the purchase of nine A350-1000 aircraft with an option for three additional aircraft.
The new A350s will be part of the airlines’ Ultra Long Haul Fleet project and will be operated on non-stop flights from Manila to North America, including destinations on the East Coast of the US and Canada. The A350-1000s with be joining the two A350-900s which are already in service with the carrier. The airline previously operated six A350-900s, but it was forced to reduce capacity when it filed for Chapter 11 amidst the pandemic.
The Manila-based carrier expects the delivery of its first A350-1000 by the fourth quarter of 2025, with subsequent deliveries continuing until 2027. The airline has also secured purchase rights for three additional -1000s to accommodate future expansion. This order marks another milestone for the carrier’s “Ultra Long Haul Fleet’ project, reflecting the airline’s confidence in its growth trajectory and commitment to meet passenger demand.
Captain Stanley K. Ng, President and Chief Operating Officer of Philippine Airlines, expressed his enthusiasm for the A350-1000, stating that its extended range would enable the airline to operate non-stop transpacific and transpolar routes throughout the year. This includes some of the longest commercial flights in the world, such as routes connecting the Philippines with New York and Toronto.
Additionally, the expanded A350 fleet will allow PAL to reinstate direct flights from the Philippines to Europe, further enhancing its global network.
“The A350-1000 combines greater range capability with the higher capacity we need to serve future demand. It’s the perfect aircraft to enable PAL to meet its expansion plans in a sustainable way while offering passengers the highest levels of onboard comfort. We are committed to offering our passengers the best possible travel experience, and these state-of-the-art aircraft will enable us to do just that as we carry out our mission to connect the world and grow trade and tourism,” said Captain Ng.
These new aircraft will be configured in a three-class configuration with business, premium economy and economy seats, though PAL has not disclosed the number of seats in each cabin.
“Flying passengers farther and in greater comfort, the A350 brings a step-change in fuel efficiency and an immediate significant contribution to reduced emissions. We look forward to working closely with our long-standing customer Philippine Airlines as it moves forward with its long-haul fleet modernisation programme.”
Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer
A Revisited Decision
This decision follows hints from airline chief Stanley Ng that the carrier was considering revisiting its order book and exploring the larger A350-1000 variant. The decision to revisit the A350-1000 came after PAL previously considered the larger variant in 2018 when Airbus proposed it as a replacement for the Boeing 777s in PAL’s fleet.
With the current improved conditions, Philippine Airlines is eager to regain the necessary capacity and is actively reevaluating its order book. The airline’s improved financial performance and the strong rebound in air travel demand have positioned it for a highly profitable 2023.
As PAL starts to take the delivery of the A350-1000s, the A350s will likely replace its existing fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs, providing a one-for-one replacement for these long-haul jets.
In addition to the A350 and Boeing 777s on its long-haul intercontinental routes, Philippine Airlines operates A330-300s for flights to the Middle East, Australia, and various Asian destinations. The airline also utilizes a fleet of A320 and A321 aircraft for domestic and regional flights from its hubs in Manila and Cebu.
China Airlines Exercises Option for Eight Additional Boeing 787-9s
Taiwan-based China Airlines has announced its decision to exercise the option to purchase eight Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft.
These Dreamliners will be delivered from 2026 onwards and will be allocated to regional, Oceania, and long-haul routes, catering to the growing passenger demand in the post-COVID era. According to the carrier, the finalization of the deal will be carried out in the near future in collaboration with Boeing.
In August 2022, China Airlines committed to acquiring 16 Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft equipped with the General Electric GEnx engine. The initial deliveries of these aircraft are scheduled to commence in 2025.
With the addition of eight more Dreamliners, the total number of 787s in China Airlines’ fleet will reach 24, all to be delivered by 2028. The Taiwan-based carrier plans to configure these aircraft in a three-class configuration with Business, Premium Economy, and Economy class cabins.
Depending on requirements, the orders may also be converted to the higher capacity 787-10 model.