November 24, 2015 / 3:37 AM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Philippine Air says plans to lift aircraft purchases, to decide by year-end

* New jet orders could reach 12 from previously announced 8

* To decide on supplier before year-end

* New aircraft for U.S. and Europe long-haul flights (Adds quotes, background, details)

By Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Philippine Airlines Inc (PAL) is in talks with Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co to buy as many as 12 wide-body aircraft and will decide on the purchase before the end of the year, the flag carrier’s President Jaime Bautista told Reuters.

PAL in August had said it was planning to buy eight planes, but Bautista said the amount had increased to cater to growing demand for long-haul flights to the United States and Europe.

Long-haul routes are the most profitable for PAL, which like its regional peers is locked in intense competition with budget carriers including Cebu Air Inc and the Philippine unit of Air Asia Bhd.

PAL will put firm orders for six aircraft worth around $1 billion for delivery in 2017 and 2018, with the option to buy six more jets for 2019 and 2020 delivery depending on the growth of the long-haul market, Bautista added.

“It’s either the Boeing 787 or the Airbus 350. That is what we are studying now,” he said on the sidelines of a company event late on Monday.

The Philippines’ fourth richest man, Lucio Tan, last year took over management of the airline and started a review of its operations, which included jet retirement and purchases.

PAL and its budget unit operate 61 Airbus jets, six Boeing aircraft and nine Bombardier planes. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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