Cebu Pacific boosting fleet of turboprops, largest in Philippines

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Cebu Pacific boosting fleet of turboprops, largest in Philippines
This undated file photo shows a Cebu Pacific aircraft.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific is set to operate the largest turboprop fleet in the Philippines as it further builds up its network of ATR jets to improve inter-island travel.

Cebu Pacific yesterday welcomed its sixth aircraft delivery for the year but unlike prior models, this time, it accepted an ATR 72-600, a turboprop jet.

As a turboprop, the 72-600 will be deployed for domestic flights, assigning it to ferry passengers to some of the remotest areas in the Philippines.

Cebu Pacific CEO Michael Szucs said the airline expects to take in another turboprop toward the end of the year. By then, Cebu Pacific would operate 16 turboprops in its fleet, the largest among Philippine carriers.

“This aircraft delivery brings our turboprop fleet to 15, and we should be receiving our 16th ATR turboprop in October. With this, Cebu Pacific will be operating the largest turboprop fleet in the Philippines, enabling us to serve more passengers across the country,” Szucs said.

At present, Cebu Pacific sends out its turboprops to reach 25 domestic destinations, flying about 2.5 million passengers every year.

Cebu Pacific needs the turboprops to land in airports with shorter or unpaved runways, such as in Busuanga, Calbayog, Camiguin, Masbate, Naga, Siargao and Surigao.

As such, the carrier owned by the Gokongweis understands the importance of purchasing aircraft like the 72-600, as it also means capturing the travel demand in far-flung areas.

Further, the 72-600 can handle high-altitude landings and steep approaches, and the aircraft can reach as far as 1,300 kilometers depending on payload. Efficiency-wise, the 72-600 can carry at least 78 passengers.

Globally, airlines assign their 72-600s to serve regional flights. The aircraft serves as one of the latest models of twin engine turboprops manufactured in France and Italy by jet maker Avions de Transport Regional.

Cebu Pacific operates one of the youngest fleets in the world, managing eight Airbus A330s, 39 A320s and 21 A321s, on top of the turboprops, enabling it to cover 35 domestic routes and 25 international cities.

For 2024, Cebu Pacific is spending P48.7 billion for capital expenditures, and the airline plans to invest the bulk of the amount on aircraft deliveries.

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