By Emmie V. Abadilla
Cebu Pacific (CEB) is taking delivery of 12 brand-new aircraft this year to expand its operations and is allocating US$650-$700 million capital expenditure (capex), from internally generated funds and borrowings, to partly finance aircraft acquisition, President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei yesterday announced.
The year’s aircraft deliveries include six Airbus A321neos, five A320neos and an ATR 72600.
“This is the year we accelerate growth,” he noted. “On average, we will be receiving one brand-new aircraft per month, which we can use to increase capacity in key markets or even launch new routes.”
“For 2019, we expect capacity to grow from low to mid-teens,” Gokongwei predicted. The A321neo, in particular, has 236 seats, with 56 seats or 31 per cent more capacity versus the A320.
This will enable CEB to offer more seats and maximize airport slots. The aircraft can service routes of over 5,000 kilometers, flying up to seven hours. Hence, the airline can now explore new destinations like India – New Delhi, for example, Russia, Northern Japan – such as Sapporo, and more cities in Australia.
At present, the CEB fleet is composed of an Airbus A321neo, 36 Airbus A320s, 7 Airbus A321ceos, 8 Airbus A330s, 8 ATR 72-500s and 12 ATR 72-600 aircraft. The airline has one of the youngest fleets in the world, with an average fleet age of 5 years versus 9.7 years for Asian carriers. CEB’s one dozen new planes will add 11-13 per cent more seats, enabling the airline to haul in some 22.5 million to 23 million passengers for this year, compares to last year’s roughly over 20 million passengers.
The new acquisition will also enable the carrier to add more flights in Clark and Cebu, “where our market share did not grow as fast and we expect to recover lost market shares in the next three years.”
The new A321neo will be used to service Tokyo and Bali.
CEB targets to fly a total of 200 million passengers by 2020 after hitting the milestone of 150 million passengers flown since it started operations.
“CEB is expanding rapidly and play an important part in the transformation of the Philippines’ aviation sector,” according to Airbus Executive Vice president for Sales in Asia, Jean Francois Laval.
“It has played a key role in supporting tourism, trade and business links to the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.”
CEB and subsidiary Cebgo fly to 36 domestic and 26 international destinations, with over 107 routes across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and U.S.A.