UPDATE 1-Philippine Airlines looking to buy 20 Boeing 777X jets

Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:55am EDT

MANILA, March 25 (Reuters) - Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it is looking to buy 20 Boeing 777X jets as part of a re-fleeting programme aimed at challenging its main domestic rival Cebu Air Inc and launching flights to the United States and Europe.

The jet, which is still in the development stage, is envisioned to be an improvement on Boeing's existing 777 models intended for long-haul service.

PAL, owned by Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp and local billionaire Lucio Tan, also sealed deals last year to buy Airbus jets with list prices totalling close to $10 billion.

"It depends on the price. We are looking at the new Boeing 777X. We may buy 10 and, if it performs well, we'll exercise an option for 10 more," PAL President Ramon Ang told reporters on Monday.

"That's larger, can carry 400 passengers with longer range," Ang said. "The new 777, they call it X because it's lightweight, has bigger wings, newer engine," Ang added, without giving any further details.

PAL wants to add 100 new jets to its current fleet of around 40 planes in the next five to seven years as it reshapes its business. In August last year, Airbus won a $7 billion order from PAL, beating Boeing to a deal marked by diplomatic lobbying.

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