Cebu Pacific Studying Europe, US West Coast Destinations


BUDGET CARRIER Cebu Pacific Air said it is considering potential new destinations in Europe and the West Coast of the United States and evaluating new aircraft capable of servicing those routes.

“At this time, we’re still in the feasibility study stage. We’re getting basic data from all aircraft manufacturers to assess whether there’s a business case to fly in EU (European Union) and West Coast United States,” according to Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and chief executive officer of the carrier’s parent Cebu Air, Inc.Speaking on the sidelines of the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Pasig City late Thursday, Mr. Gokongwei said: “We’re constantly evaluating our fleet plans, so if we were to do EU (European Union) and West Coast United States, we need a new aircraft.”

Mr. Gokongwei added that the carrier is constantly evaluating its fleet plans and talking with all manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing, saying “if we were to fly there, we will need a new aircraft.”

Cebu Pacific Air currently has 50 aircraft, and is has pending orders for 11 Airbus A320 single-aisle aircraft, plus 30 slightly larger A321 models under the new engine option (NEO) plan, as well as two twin-aisle A330s for operating lease. It is due to end its leases on eight A320s amid a move to the more-efficient A321 NEO.

This year, the carrier will take delivery of five Airbus A320s and three A330s and will return four leased A320s.

Cebu Pacific has increased seat capacity in markets such as Malaysia, Singapore, China and Japan.

“I think the market is going towards a larger fleet. Slots are limited so we went from A320 to A321,” Mr. Gokongwei explained. The A320 has 150-180 seats while the A321 has 185-220.

Asked if it is seeking more seat entitlements to other destinations, Cebu Air, Inc. General Manager Alejandro B. Reyes said that the company has requested the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to prioritize air talks with Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

“We feel that there’s really a lot of potential in those countries, especially in Hong Kong and Australia,” Mr. Reyes said.

“Currently Hong Kong has 15,000 seats available for Philippine carriers, so we’d like to see a substantial increase. There hasn’t been a capacity increase in about six years between the two,” Mr. Reyes said.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla told BusinessWorld early this month that it is targeting air talks with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the second semester of the year.

This year, the Philippines has so far concluded successful air talks with Canada, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore and France. The country will hold air service talks with South Africa on July 9-10.

Dubai, Australia and Kuwait are currently Cebu Pacific’s long-haul destinations. Its foreign operations are largely focused on East Asian markets.

As part of a strategic alliance, Cebu Air, Inc. agreed in February to acquire 100% of Tigerair Philippines, including a 40% stake of Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd.

Cebu Air, Inc. closed at ₱56.55 on Friday, down 45 centavos or 0.79% from June 26’s ₱57.

Source:  Chrisee Jalyssa V. Dela Paz, BusinessWorld Online

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