MANILA, SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Lawrence Agcaoili – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) was in the black anew for the month of July as it continued to reverse losses booked last year on the back of higher passenger and cargo volume as well as better operating efficiency.

PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said the company registered a net profit of P256 million in July reversing the P327 million net loss booked in the same month last year.

Ang traced the airline’s improving bottom line to higher passenger load factor, increasing cargo volume, and improved operating efficiency through lower maintenance cost for its aircraft.

“We expect this momentum to carry on,” he told reporters.

Parent firm PAL Holdings Inc. was back in the black in the first quarter of its fiscal year ending June as it booked a net income of P489.2 million, a complete reversal of the P475.1 million net loss recorded in the comparable period last year.

On the other hand, revenues rose 5.8 percent to P20.783 billion in the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year from P19.641 billion for the first quarter of its 2011 fiscal year on the back of higher passenger traffic.

The net loss of PAL Holdings jumped 40.7 percent to P3.7 billion for its fiscal year ending March this year from its previous fiscal year’s net loss of P2.63 billion.

The airline is aggressively pursuing its modernization program wherein it intends to acquire 100 new aircraft to beef up its existing fleet of 39 planes.

It inked a $7-billion contract with Airbus for the purchase of 54 aircraft comprising of single aisle A321s and widebody A330-300s, the first batch of which would be delivered early next year.

The A321s would be used to enhance the airline’s product offerings on domestic and regional routes while the A330s would serve regional routes and longer range services to the Middle East and Australia.

Furthermore, the company is still in talks with other aircraft manufacturers including Boeing for the acquisition of 46 more aircraft.

The introduction of the B777-300ER aircraft type is PAL’s current initiative for modernizing its wide body fleet. Four Boeing 777-300ER aircrafts are scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014.

PAL currently maintains and operates 39 aircraft comprising of five Boeing B747-400s and three B777-300ERs as well as four Airbus A340-300s, eight A330-300s, 15 A320-200s, and four A319-100s.


PAL plans new $500-m airport near Manila Thursday, 30 August 2012 21:20 Lenie Lectura / Reporter

[PHOTO -In Photo: Officials of Philippine Airlines report the airline’s financial performance for fiscal year 2011-2012, including an optimistic outlook at PAL’s future as shown by a modest profit from April to June this year. The report was made by (from left) PAL President Ramon S. Ang, PAL Chairman Dr. Lucio C. Tan and PAL Vice Chairman and Treasurer Harry C. Tan at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting, held at the Century Park Hotel]

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) will present to President Aquino early next year its plan to put up a new airport—one that is closer to Manila but not as far as Clark that will cost at least $500 million.

To be finished in 36 months, the new facility would have two runways that could handle 150 flights per hour. PAL President Ramon S. Ang said the airport would sit on a 2,000-hectare property whose exact location he refused to reveal. It would include a shopping mall and a viewing deck inside.

“We plan to put up a new airport terminal and runways. We have to clear it first with the government because this is a big project that needs the support of the government. We will present it to the President in January or February so he could take a look at it if it’s aligned [with] the government’s overall tourism master plan for the Philippines. If our proposal will be accepted, this will mean opening up a new frontier,” Ang said after PAL’s stockholders’ meeting on Thursday.

When pressed for details about the planned airport’s location, the PAL president said the new facility would be situated 15 minutes away from the Ayala business center in Makati City. “The area exists already. It will be much closer to Manila and it is a very good site,” he added.

Ang said the site could accommodate up to four runways, an initial two of which will be constructed. When completed, the new airport will not interfere with the operations at the Naia (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), he added. “It can operate simultaneously,” Ang said.

According to the PAL president, his group has withdrawn its earlier proposal to construct a low-cost terminal at the Clark International Airport (CIA) in Pampanga, north of Manila.

“The President has stated that the government will no longer entertain unsolicited proposals, so we will no longer pursue it,” Ang said.

The Clark International Airport Authority (CIAA) is mulling over the construction of a new international terminal and a budget terminal. Alongside this is a plan to construct a high-speed train that would take Metro Manila residents to the CIA, which is being groomed as a replacement for the Naia.

Besides, Ang said, it is more practical for passengers to still take a flight from Manila than travel all the way to Pampanga.

“It would take at least two hours to travel from Makati to Clark and you have to be at the airport two hours before your scheduled flight. So, in all, there are four to five hours of preparation. How much would it also cost to take the train from Manila to Clark? The high-speed train is going to cost $10 billion. Is it worth it to spend $10 billion for a train? We are just being practical,” he added.

Ang said he is confident that PAL will not encounter any difficulty in securing loans to finance the ambitious project.

“If you have a great plan, then money will come in easy. You can float bonds. We will also talk to investors. What I can say now is that there will be an equity of $500 million to finish the project in three years. On the 36th month, there will already be a ribbon-cutting ceremony. If you have an equity already, then project financing will be easy,” he added.

Ang cited the importance of having on board a well-experienced contractor, citing his preference for Korean contractors.

“If we will do this, the project proponent should really know how to design, operate and construct an airport,” he said.

According to Ang, PAL earned a P256-million profit in July as against a net loss of P327 million in the same period last year.

“We expect this momentum to carry on but we can’t tell you our target numbers. Since we came on board in April this year, confidence was restored, the company became stable,” he said.

San Miguel Equity Investments Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of San Miguel Corp., acquired a stake in Lucio C. Tan-owned firms Trustmark Holdings Corp. and Zuma Holdings and Management Corp., the holding companies of PAL and Air Philippines Corp.

For the fiscal first quarter ending June, the flag-carrier reported a net income of $11.4 million, a turnaround from a net loss of $10.6 million registered in the same period last year.

PAL’s parent firm, PAL Holdings, also reported making gains in the fiscal first quarter ending June amounting to P489.2 million from a net loss of P475.1 million posted the previous year.

In his report to shareholders, PAL Chairman Tan on Wednesday said the flag-carrier has put difficulties of the past year behind and is now focused on initiatives aimed at realizing the airline’s full potential.

Tan said investments are being made to put PAL firmly on the path to future growth. Ang, meanwhile, said the airline’s fleet modernization program could sustain the positive results that were achieved by the airline for the fiscal first three months.

“Despite multiple challenges [last year], PAL stayed the course and dramatically restructured its operations, enabling your airline to attract much-needed strategic investments and prime itself for a sustained push in the years ahead,” Tan said.

Ang said he would continue to hold dialogues with the PAL Employees Association. The group wants the new PAL management to take back some PAL employees.

“I can’t make promises because we will first talk to them on how we can help them. I will do everything I can to help them. I believe that PAL does not have to reduce its work force anymore. In fact, we need to hire more because of the new planes that will come in,” he added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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