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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Cebu Pacific eyes Boeing planes as Airbus engine issue affects fleet

Cebu Air Inc., the operator of low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific, said Thursday it plans to purchase narrow-body aircraft from US plane manufacturer Boeing to “diversify risk” amid the issues with Airbus engine supplier Pratt and Whitney (P&W).

Cebu Pacific chief executive Mike Szucs told reporters the airline was in talks with Airbus and Boeing for a possible large order of aircraft.

“This is an extremely large order for somebody like Cebu Pacific certainly, but even in the Philippines by far, and the largest order I think that will ever be placed in the Philippines,” Szucs said at the sidelines of the 2023 Aviation Summit.

“In the coming week or two, we will formally launch the request for proposal and may the best man win. It will be one or the other, we’re not gonna split it between the two. It could be that we order a whole load of new Airbus again, or it could be we order a whole load of Boeing. We would think three to six months would be the whole process, hopefully,” he said.

Szucs said Cebu Pacific was looking at Boeing aircraft to diversify risk “because we’re facing issues at the moment” with engine issues with Airbus.

“So that we haven’t got all our eggs in one basket, and that is an argument. Frankly, we will look at the right outcome financially and operationally, but both products are really good. The Boeing 737 Max is an excellent product and we know because we fly around at the moment,” Szucs siad.

Cebu Pacific operated a fleet of Boeing 757 narrow body for international flights from 2001 to 2006.

“The A320 is an excellent product as well. That’s why we’re ambivalent in that sense. It will be the right financial answer so that we can pass on the best ticket prices for our paying passengers,” he said.

Cebu Pacific said it expected its fleet to end 2023 with 76 aircraft and grow to 91 aircraft by 2024. It is the youngest fleet in the Philippines and includes 25 P&W-powered Airbus aircraft.

The airline earlier said it would revise downward its growth rate in 2024 due to P&W aircraft engine issues.

Cebu Pacific said while there was no immediate impact on operations, “we expect that this will affect our fleet availability in 2024.”

Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that Cebu Pacific carried 7.69 million domestic and international passengers in the first six months of 2023.

The airline posted a net income of P3.74 billion in the first half of 2023, a reversal from the P9.5-billion net loss in the same period last year. Revenues amounted climbed 110 percent to P43.55 billion from P20.68 billion in the same period.

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