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Cebu Pacific buying 16 ATR planes for $673 M

MANILA, Philippines - Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) of taipan John Gokongwei is spending $673 million to acquire 16 more brand new aircraft from Toulouse-based turboprop aircraft maker ATR to meet the growing demand for inter-island services in the Philippines.

Lance Gokongwei, president and chief executive officer of Cebu Pacific, said the acquisition of 16 ATR72-600 is in line with the low cost carrier’s vision of providing affordable air travel.

”This order is an affirmation of our commitment to extend the convenience of affordable air travel to even more communities. We are very pleased to be the launch customer of this new configuration of the ATR 72-600, as this will allow us to offer our customers more seats at even lower fares,” he said.

He pointed out Cebu Pacific has been operating ATR aircraft since 2008 enabling the budget airline to bring safe, reliable, and affordable air transport to smaller cities and islands throughout the Philippines.

According to Cebu Pacific, the transaction would double the airline’s turboprop fleet size. It currently operates a fleet of eight ATR 72-500 aircraft that would be retired as the new aircraft enter service.

Gokongwei said the entry into service of the ATR 72-600 would see Cebu Pacific with new generation aircraft to meet a  growing demand in the Philippines for inter-island services.

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The aircraft were ordered from European turboprop aircraft maker ATR at the Paris Air Show.

The deal also includes options to acquire and additional 10 ATR72-600. The aircraft is equipped with the high density Armonia cabin, the widest cabin in the turboprop market.

The aircraft features 78 slim-line seats and wider overhead bins with 30 percent more stowage space. These new technological innovations further enhance space and comfort for passengers.

ATR aircraft enjoy a high reputation not only for versatility, but also for their ability to operate on short runways allowing Cebu Pacific to expand its operations not only on main airports but also to several other airports around the country.

About 330 ATRs are currently operated by 55 airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. The ATR 72-600 has the lowest cost per seat mile in the 70-seat segment, with significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to similar class aircraft.

ATR chief executive officer Patrick de Castelbajac said the aircraft manufacturer is ”very happy to continue our partnership with one of the leading airlines in Southeast Asia and to contribute to the expansion of its network throughout the islands of the archipelago.

”Cebu Pacific will also be able to benefit from the vast support network for ATR operators in Asia. When their first ATR 72-600 arrives, there will be five ATR pilot training centers in the region,” he said.

Cebu Pacific is undertaking a $4-billion fleet renewal program. It is scheduled to take delivery of seven more Airbus A320 and 30 A321neo between this year and 2021. It has a fleet of 55 aircraft composed of 10 A319, 31 A320, six Airbus A330, and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft.

Meanwhile, the low cost carrier arm of national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) of taipan Lucio Tan is set to fly to Saipan in Northern Marianas two times a week using the 156-seater Airbus A320 aircraft.

PAL Express said it intends to attract Saipan residents to fly to Manila and interconnect to any of the PAL Group;s domestic and international destinations. There are about 19,000 Filipinos living and working in Saipan.

”Our goal is to address the clamor for new routes in order to best serve the needs of the market. As we tap new markets and build on existing ones, we aim to ensure connectivity across the route network of the PAL Group by providing the required flight frequencies and schedules,” the airline said.

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