By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

BUDGET carrier Cebu Pacific is expecting to take delivery of eight more aircraft this year despite the ongoing pandemic crisis.

Cebu Pacific had 10 deliveries in 2019 and three last year, Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing and customer service, told BusinessWorld in a recent phone message.

“Eight expected deliveries for 2021 — a mix of Airbus and ATR (Avions de Transport Regional) fleet,” she added.

On its website, the budget carrier said that it was expected to take delivery of 27 Airbus A321NEO and one more Airbus A320NEO between 2020 and 2026.

It also has “newly-confirmed orders” of 16 A330NEO, five A320NEO, and 10 A321XLR aircraft.

“This latest order accelerates the carrier’s plan to boost capacity while shifting to more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft,” it said.

The budget carrier hopes to have an “all-next generation” fleet of Airbus jets by 2024.

To recall, Cebu Pacific took delivery in 2019 of its 13th ATR 72-600 high-capacity aircraft of the 16 it had ordered in France in 2015.

“Cebu Pacific’s additional 72-600 aircraft are used to widen the CEB network through inter-island routes and boosting new city pairs between hubs. Between 2020 and 2022, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of three more ATR 72-600 to be utilized for more connectivity between the Philippines’ many islands,” it said.

In May last year, Cebu Air, Inc., the listed operator of Cebu Pacific, said it was undertaking an “overall review” of its long-term fleet plan due to the challenging conditions.

The company noted it already has “a very conservative” fleet growth plan compared with other low-cost carriers, “with a five-year estimated growth of only 8-9%.”

It said it had discussions with suppliers regarding its overall fleet plan and schedule “to establish flexibility to adapt to current events.”

As part of its cost-cutting measures in 2020, Cebu Pacific sent 14 aircraft to Australia for storage. It had a total of 75 aircraft, including those parked in Australia, last year.

Cebu Air suffered a net loss of P14.69 billion for the first nine months of 2020 from the P6.77-billion profit it generated in the same period in 2019.