Philippines' Cebu Pacific to decide Airbus vs Boeing for 100 narrowbody jets order in Q2

Yahoo Finance · 21 Feb 4.4K Views



By Lisa Barrington

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Philippine budget airline Cebu Pacific will decide in May or June whether to choose Airbus or Boeing for an order of more than 100 narrowbody aircraft flagged last year, the carrier's CEO Michael Szucs said.

Cebu Pacific is deciding whether to choose a combination of Airbus' A320neo and A321neo models or Boeing's high-capacity 737 MAX 8-200 and 737 MAX 10 for delivery from 2027, he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow.

It will be a significant market test for Boeing following the latest in a series of crises when in January a mid-air cabin panel blew out on a MAX 9 jet mid-flight.

Cebu Pacific needs a mix of shorter and longer plane models to cope with the Philippines' varied runway types. It currently has an all-Airbus narrowbody fleet that includes A320neos and A321neos, meaning a switch to Boeing would be a major win for the U.S. planemaker.

Szucs said Boeing was fully communicating with Cebu Pacific and he had every confidence it would solve the problem that led to the panel blowout.

The carrier said in October it was looking to order 100 to 150 narrowbody aircraft worth up to $12 billion at list prices in what could be the Philippines' largest-ever jet purchase.

Cebu Pacific has said it aims to more than double its fleet by 2035 to take advantage of a long-term travel boom across Southeast Asia following the pandemic.

The deal is likely to be 100 firm orders plus some options for more purchases, Szucs added, with the decision taking into account its engine preferences.

RTX subsidiary Pratt & Whitney's GTF engines, which are used on some A320neo jets, are subject to an inspection drive to check for potentially flawed components that have forced airlines to temporary ground planes and cancel flights.

Ten Cebu Pacific A320neo family jets are currently grounded awaiting these engine inspections, and the engine problem will cause issues for the carrier for the next few years, Szucs said.

But he said he was confident Pratt & Whitney would have resolved the issue by 2027 when Cebu Pacific hopes to start receiving the new planes.

The airline said on Tuesday it had chosen Pratt & Whitney engines to power 15 A320neo family aircraft currently on order.

CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran, offers a rival A320neo family engine option and is the sole provider for the 737 MAX.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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