Philippine Airlines—controlled by tobacco and banking billionaire Lucio Tan—said Wednesday it has signed a deal to buy nine ultra-long haul A350-1000 jets from Airbus as the flag carrier seeks to boost non-stop flights to the U.S. and Canada amid a post-pandemic travel rebound.
PAL did not disclose the cost of the new wide-body planes but listings on Axon Aviation, a London-based aircraft sales and leasing company, show each A350-1000 jets are priced at $355.7 million, bringing the airline’s total investment to over $3 billion.
The first of the nine jets will be delivered by the fourth quarter of 2025, with the rest of the deliveries continuing through 2027. PAL said it also signed an option to buy three additional A350-1000 jets to allow future expansion in new long haul destinations.
The new planes will enable PAL to fly non-stop transpacific and transpolar routes in both directions all year, including the world’s longest commercial flights linking the Philippines with Toronto and New York, Stanley K. Ng, president and chief operating officer of PAL, said in a statement. With an expanded A350 fleet, the carrier will also have the ability to provide direct links to Europe.
“The A350-1000 combines greater range capability with the higher capacity we need to serve future demand,” Ng said. “It’s the perfect aircraft to enable PAL to meet its expansion plans in a sustainable way, while offering passengers the highest levels of onboard comfort.”
PAL—Asia’s oldest airline—is again expanding its fleet after the airline posted an operating profit of $297 million last year, its first full year of profitability since 2019. It returned to the black after canceling $2 billion in debt, retrenching about 30% of its workforce, and downsizing its fleet. The carrier exited the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings at the end of 2021, just three months after filing a restructuring plan, helped by fresh capital injection from Tan.
Apart from the airline, Tan also has interests in banking, beer, spirits, tobacco and real estate through his publicly listed LT Group. With a net worth of $2 billion, Tan ranked No. 11 when the list of Philippines’ richest was last published in August.