Cebu Pacific receives its first China-assembled Airbus jet

“This gives us additional reliability,” the CEO of the carrier said.

Tyrone Jasper C. Piad

Tyrone Jasper C. Piad

Philippine Daily Inquirer


NEW AIRCRAFT CEO Mike Szucs says the new jet will improve scheduling. —TYRONE PIAD

June 30, 2023

TIANJIN, China—Cebu Pacific, – which has been facing backlash for the suspension and cancellation of flights due to unavailability of aircraft, is augmenting its fleet with the delivery of a new A320neo (new engine option) unit assembled by Airbus Tianjin.

Michael Szucs, CEO of the budget carrier, said in a briefing on Thursday the new aircraft was acquired via a 12-year leasing agreement with jet lessor Clover Aircraft Leasing.

The new jet, which is set to be delivered on Friday to the Philippines, will join its 62-unit fleet. “This gives us additional reliability,” he said.

Szucs, on the sidelines of the event, told reporters they have nine aircraft currently grounded for maintenance, which is among the reasons behind the recent flight suspensions. “In span of six to eight weeks, we lost nine aircraft,” he said.

Four of these parked planes were due to US-based engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney being unable to provide required aircraft maintenance immediately due to supply chain issues. Over 160 Airbus planes, including those of Philippine Airlines’ as well, are grounded globally due to this massive logistics problem.

The other five units were in the shop for regular maintenance but they were also taking longer time because of challenges in supplying materials.

Fleet expansion

Acquiring new aircraft, Szucs said, was in “line with our fleet plan which aims to support our overall growth ambitions as travel demand continues to recover.”

The A320neo, the eighth of the 15 aircraft Cebu Pacific is set to receive this year, can accommodate up to 188 passengers. The company earmarked P42 billion in capital expenditures this year for mostly aircraft-related spending.

Airbus China chief operating officer Michel Tran Van said that Neo units allow airlines to improve fuel use efficiency, which is parallel with the aviation sector’s green initiatives. Neo aircraft use 20 percent less fuel.

“This aircraft delivery, powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), demonstrates our commitment to providing safe, convenient and reliable travel for our customers while building a greener and more sustainable future,” Cebu Pacific chief strategy officer Alex Reyes said. SAF produces 80 percent less carbon emissions.

Cebu Pacific anticipates to remain profitable for the rest of the year after ending in the green during the first quarter for the first time since the pandemic.

“Demand is healthy in all of the markets we are operating,” Szucs said. “We continue to see healthy demand moving forward.”

Currently, the Gokongwei-led airline’s network covers 35 domestic and 23 international destinations. It services 2,300 flights on weekly basis.

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