August 8, 2013

Kicks off fleet renewal program

PAL’s first of 65 new airplanes arrives


The first state-of-the-art Airbus A321-200, Philippine Airlines' new flagship aircraft of its single-aisle fleet, arrived in Manila August 7, signaling the start of PAL's comprehensive fleet renewal program.


The brand-new A321-200 touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Finkenwerder Airport at Hamburg, Germany, site of Airbus’ A320-series final assembly line.


“The A321’s arrival heralds a new, exciting era for PAL,” said PAL president Ramon S. Ang. “It not only gives us size to fit our expansion plans but also the flexibility to match capacity to specific route requirements. This is a tremendous advantage for us. Our passengers will love this highly efficient aircraft, which features a tri-class cabin with unique amenities.”


The new jet, one of the most modern and safest airplanes to soar the Philippine skies, will be assigned on two major domestic routes – Manila-Cebu and Manila-Davao. It will also be deployed on high-density regional routes where it will alternate with the smaller Airbus A320.


The A321’s entry is an important PAL milestone – officially putting in motion the fleet renewal program that was set almost a year ago. Earlier, PAL signed a firm order with Airbus for 55 aircraft, worth $7 billion, regarded as the largest aircraft purchase in Philippine history.


That order was for 45 single-aisle A321s and 10 wide-body A330-300 (high gross weight). The following month, the airline exercised its option to acquire 10 more A330-300s, raising total orders to a record 65 aircraft.


A second A321 is due on August 16, followed by the airline’s first A330-300 HGW in the fourth week of September. In all, PAL will take delivery of 12 aircraft in the remaining five months of 2013, 17 in 2014, 15 in 2015, 10 in 2016, two in 2017, four in 2018 and four in 2019.


Described as the most efficient single-aisle jetliner ever built, the twin-engine A321 is destined to become the linchpin of PAL’s short-range fleet well into the future, gradually replacing the A320.


With its stretched fuselage, the A321 measures 146 feet – nearly 23 feet longer than the A320 – enabling it to accommodate more seats and cargo. Its length and cabin width of 12 feet, 1 inch make the A321 the longest and widest among all single-aisle aircraft flying today, enhancing passenger comfort.


Its technical superiority apart, it’s what’s inside the cabin that makes PAL’s A321 stand out in the market. It starts with an interior design that’s unmistakably Filipino. From the carpet, seat covers and curtains to the laminates, the front of the cabin is swathed in buoyant beige – a warm, welcoming color that makes passengers feel at home in the sky.


PAL’s A321 is configured to accommodate 199 passengers in three classes – Business Class, with 12 seats; Premium Economy, with 18 seats; and Economy, with 169 seats.


Business Class seats offer a comfortable pitch of 37 inches along with an ergonomic design that provides greater knee and leg room plus articulating bottom support. Other seat amenities include 120-degree recline, six-way adjustable headrest, extendable leg-rest, universal sockets and USB ports.


Premium Economy, a new PAL product, has “slim line” seats that feature a 34-inch pitch, under-seat storage, four-way adjustable headrest and articulating bottom where the seat pan slides forward while the seat back reclines. This novel design optimizes passenger space and adds appreciably to the comfort level. Guests in Economy also enjoy the same seat at a pitch of 30 inches.