Cebu Pacific continues refleeting program in sign of hope for air travel recovery
MANILA, Philippines—Cebu Pacific, the country’s largest budget carrier, is continuing its refleeting program amid the COVID-19 pandemic, betting on the eventual recovery of air travel.
The company said on Tuesday (April 6) that it took delivery of a brand-new Airbus A321Neo last April 2 while seven more planes from manufacturers Airbus and ATR were set to arrive for the remainder of 2021.
Cebu Pacific said the delivery was in line with its fleet expansion and the replacement of older planes that burn more fuel.
Operated by Gokongwei-led Cebu Air Inc., Cebu Pacific officials had said the refleeting program was under review given the severe impact caused by the global health catastrophe.
“Prepandemic, we have already started embarking on our long-term vision and fleet strategy, which includes an orderly exit of older aircraft,” Mark Cezar, Cebu Pacific deputy chief finance officer, said in a statement.
“We envision the total CEB fleet to be composed of new-generation aircraft in the next few years,” he added.
Airlines in the country and overseas have seen air travel collapse due to the pandemic-induced travel restrictions in 2020.
Recovery in domestic aviation has been slower for countries like the Philippines, where carriers were forced to deal with a myriad of often conflicting local government rules.
The recent surge in COVID-19 infections also prompted local carriers to cancel flights and suspend routes, hurting their businesses further.
The announcement on fleet expansion follows Cebu Pacific’s successful efforts to seal fund-raising deals worth P28.5 billion from equity and debt sources to survive the crisis.
Cebu Pacific said its newest plane, with 236 seats and 20 percent fuel cost savings, will enter service on April 9 to serve domestic routes.
The carrier’s fleet is composed of 74 planes, including eight A321NEO, 25 Airbus A320, seven Airbus A321CEO, five Airbus A320NEO, seven Airbus A330, six ATR 72-500, and 13 ATR 72-600 aircraft. Its fleet also has two ATR freighters and one A330 freighter.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.