BUDGET CARRIER Cebu Pacific said it had signed a damp lease agreement with Bulgaria Air to further expand its fleet in 2024 amid anticipation of increased passenger demand and air travel recovery.

“We mentioned this [before], one of the things [that we’re doing], we have actually got out of our way to look for short-term leases for aircraft to give us lift in terms of capacity. Other options that we are going to be taking right now is a damp lease,” Candice A. Iyog, marketing and customer experience officer of Cebu Pacific, said in a press chat on Tuesday.

A damp lease is an agreement between two airlines that allows the lessor to provide an aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance to the lessee.

The company said it had signed an agreement with Bulgaria Air, the national carrier of the Republic of Bulgaria, for two Airbus 320ceo aircraft, which it said would service domestic routes such as Cebu and Davao beginning from January to May next year, the company said in a media release.

The two leased A320ceo will both have a 180-seat capacity, the company added.

“We continue to explore various opportunities to supplement the fleet and ensure operational resilience. This includes signing a damp lease agreement with Bulgaria Air for five months in 2024,” Alexander G. Lao, president and chief commercial officer of Cebu Pacific, said separately in a statement.

The company expects its fleet to rise to 92 by the end of 2024, while it also anticipates increasing its year-on-year seat growth to be between 5% and 8% in 2024.

In September, Cebu Pacific’s listed operator Cebu Air, Inc. said it would lower its fleet growth rate in 2024 as engine maker Pratt and Whitney (P&W) inspects A320/321 NEO aircraft engines worldwide following suspected issues.

The company said it is expecting that a number of its aircraft will be affected in 2024 as it reiterates that the inspection is also aimed at ensuring the continued safe operation of its P&W-powered aircraft fleet. — Ashley Erika O. Jose