By Neil Jerome Morales and Anshuman Daga
MANILA/SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Philippine Airlines Inc (PAL) is close to announcing a deal to secure about half a dozen wide-body Airbus jets to serve U.S. and Europe long-haul flights, several people familiar with the matter said.
The deal for Airbus A350-900 jets, likely to be announced at this week’s Singapore Airshow, would be valued around $1.8 billion at list prices based on an outright purchase, though other deal structures may be considered, said the people who were not authorised to speak to the media.
One source said this could involve PAL leasing the planes.
PAL and Europe’s Airbus declined to comment.
“We do not comment on discussions we may or may not be having with our customers,” an Airbus spokesman said.
“PAL will announce in due time its fleet orders which will add to its existing roster of aircraft,” the airline said in an emailed statement responding to a query from Reuters.
“These will be utilised for international routes. It is a choice between an A350 and (Boeing) 787, as stated by PAL President Jaime Bautista last year.”
PAL’s order comes at a time when rival Cebu Pacific is also expanding its local routes.
PAL, the country’s No. 2 airline, is taking in more aircraft as it grows its lucrative international network to cater to increased demand from millions of Filipinos working overseas.
PAL’s expected fleet acquisition underscores the buoyant outlook for Southeast Asia’s fifth-largest economy as it bucks a global slowdown. It is forecast to expand by 6 percent this year - one of the fastest growth rates in Asia.
However, there are concerns among manufacturers gathering in Singapore that overall demand for new jetliners is slowing after a record wave of orders.
The Philippines’ fourth richest man, Lucio Tan, began a review of PAL’s operations after taking over the airline’s management in 2014.
PAL and its budget unit operate about 60 Airbus jets, six Boeing aircraft and around nine Bombardier airplanes. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales, Anshuman Daga, Siva Govindasamy and Tim Hepher, Editing by Eric Meijer)