Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Consider Long Haul Options

With the pending lifting of bans to the European Union and United States on the horizon, both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are considering their options for long-haul aircraft.

philippine airlines 787
Image Source: Nek777/Flickr
For budget carrier Cebu Pacific, the airline has expressed interest  in serving destinations in the United States and Eastern Europe. But if it wants to adapt its highly successful low-cost model to long haul flying, it will need to consider purchasing more fuel efficient modern jet liners in order to serve farther destinations affordably and efficiently.

Alex Reyes, General Manager of Cebu Pacific's long-haul operations division, said that the airline is considering the purchase of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350. "All of these technologies promise additional fuel savings," said Reyes. "We always study what is available out there. Whatever suits the network that we are trying to build, as well as the cost situation. Normally, when you are buying in bulk, you get a better price." Reyes added that the acquisition of either the 787 or A350 was definitely possible and that the advantage of working with Airbus would be shorter training for their pilots.

The A350 aircraft just completed its first initial test flight successfully last week just prior to the annual Parish Air Show. While the Boeing 787 entered service in September 2011, the aircraft has been plagued with issues stemming from the aircraft's battery systems. Both aircraft compete directly with each other carrying between 200-300 passengers on trips around 7,000 miles or less. What distinguishes these modern aircraft from their predecessors is the use of composite material in the construction of the fuselage which is more durable, weighs less, and helps to increase fuel efficiency.

Last week, Cebu Pacific welcomed the arrival of its first 436-seat Airbus A330-300 aircaft. The addition of the A330 to the Cebu Pacific fleet will enable the airline to service destinations in the Middle East, Australia, Eastern Europe, and the United States. While the first aircraft will be used to service routes to Singapore and Korea, the second aircraft arriving in September will fly Cebu Pacific's first long haul route to Dubai.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific's main rival, Philippine Airlines is contemplating a purchase of the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350 as part of its re-fleeting program. In an interview with Flightglobal Pro, Ramon Ang, President of Philippine Airlines, confirmed that the airline was evaluating the 777X versus the A350. He added that the airline could acquire between 10 to 20 of either aircraft type.

cebu pacific a350
Image Source: Airbus
Philippine Airlines announced last year that it intended to purchase 100 new aircraft as part of a refleeting program aimed at retiring its uneconomical older wide body aircraft. The goal is to enable PAL compete more effectively in the long-haul market. Philippine Airlines already placed an order for approximately 64 Airbus aircraft leaving room to order an additional 36 aircraft of their choice.

Previous reports in Philippine media suggested that Philippine Airlines expressed interest in the 777X based on its lighter cabin and fuel efficient engines. The airline is interested in order 10 aircraft with an option for an additional 10. Boeing has yet to officially launch its Boeing 777X program. The manufacturer is currently assessing the market and evaluating interest from prospective buyers. But if the program is to go ahead, odds are that the aircraft would not enter service until mid-2019 at the earliest. The first deliveries of the A350 are due in the second half of 2014. 
For Philippine Airlines, no order for either aircraft is likely until the bans on travel to the United States and Europe are officially lifted. PAL already struggled to find routes to utilize its existing fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft suggesting that if the bans were not lifted, they would sublease the aircraft to another airline as they could not operate the aircraft feasibly on the routes currently available to the airline.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.