Supplier issue to ground Cebu Pacific planes anew

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Supplier issue to ground Cebu Pacific planes anew
File photo of Cebu Pacific planes
Cebu Pacific Air website

MANILA, Philippines — Budget airline Cebu Pacific is hit with another fleet issue that may impede growth until 2024, as one of its largest suppliers is expected to recall hundreds of jet engines due to a manufacturing flaw.

Cebu Pacific’s parent Cebu Air Inc. said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) some of its Airbus aircraft would be grounded for a maintenance check after aviation giant Pratt & Whitney announced the assessment of more aircraft engines.

The Gokongwei-owned low-cost carrier hopes to close the year with a fleet of 76 aircraft, 25 of which are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, challenging the airline’s prospects for 2024 with a number of jets in line for repair.

“We anticipate that a number of the aircraft will be affected next year by recent announcements, and as such the growth rate for 2024 will be revised downward,” Cebu Air said.

Pratt & Whitney believes it has to withdraw as many as 700 engines from Airbus A320neos around the world for lengthy assessments from 2023 to 2026.

Last July, Pratt & Whitney announced that a rare powder metal defect could lead to the cracking of engine parts for around 200 units only at that time.

Given that the number of affected aircraft has increased, it estimates that repair works would now last 300 days per engine.

Cebu Pacific is expected to be hit by this supply chain disruption as Pratt & Whitney projects that an average of 350 jets worldwide would be grounded every year until 2026.

“There is no immediate impact on [Cebu Pacific’s] operations, but we expect that this will affect our fleet availability in 2024,” Cebu Air said.

Cebu Pacific is coming off another supply chain issue with Pratt & Whitney as well that forced it to reduce flight schedules until September. The airline had to park at least six of its aircraft due to delays in the repair of Pratt & Whitney engines.

“We would like to assure Cebu Pacific passengers that this is not a safety issue. The accelerated fleet inspection will ensure the continued safe operation of the Pratt & Whitney fleet,” it added.

Cebu Air booked a profit of P3.75 billion in the first semester, a reversal from its net loss of P9.5 billion a year ago, propelled by the sustained recovery of air travel in the pandemic aftermath.

At present, the airline keeps a flight network of 35 Philippine destinations and 24 foreign routes spanning Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

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