Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cebu Pacific ramps up fleet: Airline planning to buy 20 airplanes

Lenie Lectura
Business Mirror

GOKONGWEI-led Cebu Pacific on Tuesday said it will buy five more Airbus A320-family aircraft from its earlier planned purchase of 10 airplanes.

In addition, the company is studying whether it should order five more aircraft, said Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei.

Total investment for this fleet expansion is estimated to reach $1.3 billion. Delivery of the 180-seat aircraft, said Gokongwei, is scheduled from October 2010 to November 2013.

Gokongwei said the additional orders are needed because of the airline’s expanding domestic and international operations.

The Airbus A320 family of short- to medium-range commercial passenger airliners are manufactured by France-based Airbus and are the only narrow-body aircraft in their product line. Family members include the A318, A319, A320 and A321, as well as the ACJ business jet.

With more than 3,800 aircraft of the A320 family built, it is the second best-selling jet airliner family of all time after its primary competition, the Boeing 737. “The global economic downturn notwithstanding, we are experiencing a surge in the number of passengers flying Cebu Pacific mainly because of our low fares. We expect this growth to continue, hence our decision to further expand our fleet,” he said.

Cebu Pacific carried close to 7 million passengers last year and expects to carry 9 million this year. Altogether, the airline has placed firm orders of 27 A320 aircraft, of which 12 have already been delivered. “We currently operate 21 aircraft in the A320 family, including nine leased ones, with an average age of just 1.9 years.” Gokongwei said in a statement.

The new A320s will be powered by CFM International’s CFM56-5B engines, worth $140 million, which are very efficient and have better fuel consumption. The engine also meets the latest environmental protection standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization for its low carbon dioxide emission.

The airline had earlier signed a $100-million OnPoint solution agreement with GE Aviation’s services business. The 12-year service contract includes general maintenance and repairs, parts procurement, technology upgrades, engine leasing, and overhaul of the CFM56-5B engines. “This expansion will more than double passenger capacity and enable us to provide our trademark low fares for new domestic and international destinations. We expect to increase our passenger numbers from 9 million this year to 15 million in 2013,” Gokongwei added.

Cebu Pacific operates flights to 15 cities in Asia and 32 domestic destinations using 21 Airbus aircraft and eight ATR aircraft.

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