PAL unveils new Airbus jets, seeks to 'reclaim' top carrier status

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2018 10:27 AM | Updated as of Jul 18 2018 10:29 AM

Philippine Airlines rolls out its Airbus A350 and A321neo at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on July 17, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

MANILA -- Philippine Airlines will deploy 2 new Airbus jets, hoping to "reclaim" its status as one of the world's best carriers, its president said.

The airline launched its Airbus A350 and A321neo late Tuesday in a cocktail reception with President Rodrigo Duterte as guest. It recently secured a 4-star rating from London-based Skytrax.

The 295-seater A350 will fly PAL's New York and London routes starting October while the 168-seater A321neo will be used on the newly-launched Brisbane and Sapporo routes, the airline said.

"Through these new airplanes, we aim to reclaim our stature as one of the world’s best airlines, to be a beacon of hope that Filipinos can set the standard of excellence and be the best in what we do," PAL President Jaime Bautista said.

The flag carrier has stuck to its full-service model despite competition from budget rivals such as the country's largest airline in terms of passenger volume, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia.

Philippine Airlines will offer 12 business class seats in its A321neo. Cebu Pacific recently took delivery of a 230-seater A321ceo and has placed orders for 32 A321neo planes for delivery until 2022.

Five more A321neos are expected to arrive within 2018, and another 15 in the coming years, PAL said.

Four more A350s will join PAL's fleet this year, with 2 more expected to arrive by the middle of 2019, the airline said, adding the new jets would allow it to open additional routes to North America and Europe.