Cebu Pacific expects to ‘keep fares low’ with 12 new aircraft in 2019

Aika Rey
The budget carrier's new Airbus A321neo aircraft has a bigger seating capacity and will be used to meet the growing demand

BRAND-NEW PLANE. Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei (second from left) holds the scale model of the Airbus A321neo. Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Budget carrier Cebu Pacific said on Thursday, January 31, that travelers can still expect low fares, with 12 new aircraft to be delivered in 2019.

Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei said the airline’s first A321neo (new engine option) aircraft out of the 32 ordered from Airbus has been delivered from Hamburg, Germany.

This is part of their expansion plan, targeting to fly 22.5 million to 23 million passengers by the end of 2019.

Throughout the rest of the year, Gokongwei said, 5 more A321neo, 5 A320neo, and one ATR 72-600 will be delivered.

“Refleeting is a necessity to ensure operational efficiency and harness growth potential that takes into account aircraft arrivals and our network plan,” he said.

The A321neo has a seating capacity of 236 passengers, which is 56 seats more than the A320neo. It has more legroom, with a USB slot for in-flight charging.

The bigger seating capacity would allow Cebu Pacific to “keep fares low,” according to the budget carrier’s presentation during the launch.

TAKEOFF. The first of 32 A321neo planes ordered by Cebu Pacific takes off from Hamburg, Germany. Photo from Cebu Pacific

Gokongwei added that majority of the A321neo aircraft to be delivered this year will be assigned to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to maximize slots.

“We know that slots [in NAIA] are limited, but at the same time the Philippine economy and the demand for aviation continues to grow,” Gokongwei said.

“The basic strategy for us is to employ the Airbus 321s in Manila – they offer about 31% more seats than our basic 320s – and then employ the 320s in additional routes, particularly Clark as well as other provincial airports,” he added.

The new aircraft is also seen to be deployed to Bali in Indonesia, as well as other Southeast Asian cities, Cebgo president and CEO Alexander Lao said.

The A321neo is also capable of operating on routes in excess of 5,000 kilometers or flying up to 7 hours. Lao said Cebu Pacific is still studying flights to India, Russia, nothern Japan, and other cities in Australia.

Lao added that the entry of the new Airbus plane and stabilizing fuel prices allow the carrier to “serve more passengers and keep the fares competitive.” (READ: Cebu Pacific has new baggage rules starting January 15)

The 32-unit order for the A321neo is the biggest in Southeast Asia, Gokongwei said. Flag carrier Philippine Airlines ordered 21 A321neo aircraft, the first of which was delivered in June last year.

As of December 2018, Cebu Pacific has an Airbus A321neo, 36 Airbus A320, 7 Airbus A321ceo (current engine option), 8 Airbus A330, 8 ATR 72-500, and 12 ATR 72-600.

Gokongwei said the budget carrier’s fleet is one of the youngest in the world, with an average age of 5 years and two weeks. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.