Philippine Airlines said Tuesday it expects to close a deal with a strategic investor in the first half, as it expands routes in Asia starting April.
“We’re targeting first half of the year. We’re talking to a possible strategic investor,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista told reporters.
The investor is expected to acquire up to 40 percent of the flag carrier. PAL tapped Morgan Stanley as financial advisor for the transaction.
The airline also announced that it was expanding operations in Asia by launching new routes to Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and New Delhi (India) from its Manila hub.
The latest expansion by PAL creates the first direct air link between the Philippines and the capital of Cambodia, expands PAL’s existing Vietnam network and re-establishes a historic link to India with immense potential for tourism development.
“Philippine Airlines’ strategic vision is to make the Philippines a true gateway to Asia. We are the Southeast Asian airline with the biggest and most extensive network of direct flights to the US and Canada, and thus we can be the leader in carrying North American travelers to India, Cambodia and Vietnam via our Manila hub,” Bautista said.
“We will leverage Manila’s excellent geographical location as an ideal stopover point for people flying to Southeast and South Asia from the East and West Coasts of North America,” he said.
PAL currently operates 43 weekly flights nonstop from six North American destinations: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Honolulu and Vancouver.
This comprehensive network, flown by PAL’s latest-technology Boeing 777, Airbus A350 and Airbus A330 aircraft, will generate passenger travel flows to Hanoi, Delhi, Phnom Penh and other destinations in the Asean region. PAL additionally operates seven weekly flights from the US territory of Guam.
“Vietnam and Cambodia are emerging markets and economic centers that need connections to the rest of the world. We are excited to introduce their excellent tourist attractions to more and more Western travelers, including Filipino Americans,” Bautista said.
“PAL also looks forward to serving the many ethnic Vietnamese and Cambodian people who are now US and Canadian citizens,” he said.
The return of PAL to the Indian market will provide a welcome boost to the tourism industries of both the Philippines and India.
The airline previously flew the Manila – Delhi route from 2011 to 2013, with most flights making costly stopovers in Bangkok because of the limited range of the Airbus A320 aircraft then in use.
PAL also served Kolkata (Calcutta) as a key stopover point on the flag carrier’s multi-stop Manila-Europe services in the 1950s.
PAL is targeting April 2019 as the start of the New Delhi service subject to final slot and operational clearances with the Indian authorities.
The new route is slated to run four times weekly nonstop between Manila and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport using brand-new Airbus A321neo aircraft.