Cebu Pacific pushes back A321NEO deliveries

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Cebu Pacific-aircraft
A Cebu Pacific Air aircraft is seen at the Philippine domestic airport — BW FILE PHOTO

CEBU PACIFIC on Wednesday said it is deferring the start of delivery of 32 A321NEO units originally scheduled this year to the fourth quarter of 2018, citing delays with the engines to be used for the aircraft.

As it awaits the delivery of the A321NEO units, the Gokongwei-led budget carrier said it is buying seven Airbus 321CEO (Current Engine Option) aircraft worth $812 million to address increased capacity requirements.

In a statement, Cebu Pacific said delivery of the A321NEO units was moved to end 2018 until 2022 “due to delays with the Pratt & Whitney engines selected to power the aircraft.” The A321NEO planes were originally scheduled to be delivered starting September 2017 until 2021.

It added that the seven A321CEO planes will be delivered starting March 2018.

“We have decided to take a conservative approach to the introduction of the A321NEO into our operations. We remain confident that Pratt & Whitney will address all issues on the Geared Turbo Fan engine. There is, however, the need to increase our current capacity to meet growing domestic and regional network demand, thus the A321CEO order,” Cebu Pacific Chief Finance Officer, Andrew L. Huang was quoted as saying in the statement.

Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei said the new A321 planes will allow the airline to increase capacity on popular routes, while also benefitting from lower operating costs.

“This will mean more low fares for more customers flying across our domestic and regional network,” Mr. Gokongwei said in the same statement.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said the A321 units are “the perfect solution to meet the requirements of airlines worldwide in the middle of the market segment.”

Cebu Pacific currently flies to 37 domestic and 26 international destinations. It operates to over 100 routes across Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and the United States.

The airline recently took delivery of two brand-new aircraft: an Airbus A330; and an ATR 72-600, to bring its current fleet to 61. Its fleet is now composed of four Airbus A319, 36 Airbus A320, eight Airbus A330, eight ATR 72-500, and five ATR 72-600 aircraft.

Cebu Pacific carried 6.63 million passengers in the first four months of the year, higher by 0.4% than the 6.6 million seen during the comparable period last year, according to the latest operating statistics uploaded on its Web site.

The Gokongwei-led carrier is targeting to ferry 20 million passengers this year.

Shares in Cebu Air closed at P98.60 apiece, down P1.40 or 1.40% from its previous finish. — Imee Charlee C. Delavin