THE head of Philippine Airlines (PAL) expects the country's flag carrier to return to full flight capacity by the middle of this year.
Speaking during a roundtable interview with The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd, PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Capt. Stanley Ng said the airline is at 90 percent flight capacity, but it still has fewer aircraft than it did before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In terms of planes, we are at twenty-something less compared to the pre-pandemic, so in terms of that, we will not be able to go back to 100 percent,” Ng said.
Now that China has once again eased travel restrictions, Ng said he expects Philippine business and tourism to pick up.
He said he is cautiously optimistic about the outlook for PAL this year because of persistent headwinds, but noted that the first quarter has been kind to the airline industry.
“When I was asked in December, I said we (Philippine Airlines) are cautiously optimistic about the situation this year because of the rising interest rates, inflation, and the possible recession might come in, but so far for the first quarter, we have not seen a slowdown yet,” Ng said.
“And in terms of the reopening of China, we aim to target about 20 percent of possible tourists and promote the Philippines,” he said.
The airline is focusing on building lounges in airports, getting parts for its aircraft and investing in a Customer Relation Management (CRM) system for the airline, Ng said.
“In terms of capex (capital expenditure), we are building a new Mabuhay lounge in Terminal 1 [of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport]. It is going to be a thousand-square-meter development full of local artists' various works. The commitment is in August of this year (start of operations) and latest in September,” he said.
Ng added that PAL also plans to upgrade the engines of its aircraft and finish the construction of its new office building in Nichols, Pasay City.
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