Cebu Pacific’s Major Decision: Airbus vs Boeing for 100-Jet Order

Philippine budget airline Cebu Pacific is set to make a significant decision in the second quarter of 2024. The airline will choose between Airbus and Boeing for an order of more than 100 narrowbody aircraft, a decision that was flagged last year. The CEO of Cebu Pacific, Michael Szucs, has indicated, during his presence at the Singapore Airshow, that the decision will be made in May or June. 


The choice lies between 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. This decision will be a significant market test for Boeing, especially following the recent crisis in January when a mid-air cabin panel blew out on a MAX 9 jet mid-flight. Cebu Pacific requires a mix of shorter and longer plane models to cope with the Philippines' varied runway types. Currently, the airline operates an all-Airbus narrowbody fleet that includes A320neos and A321neos. Therefore, switching to Boeing would represent a major win for the U.S. planemaker.

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Szucs has expressed confidence in Boeing, stating that the company has been fully communicating with Cebu Pacific and he believes that Boeing will solve the problem that led to the panel blowout. In October, Cebu Pacific announced that it was looking to order 100 to 150 narrowbody aircraft worth up to $12 billion at list prices. This could potentially be the largest-ever jet purchase in the Philippines. The airline 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 consist of 100 firm orders plus some options for additional purchases. The decision will also take into account the airline's engine preferences. Currently, ten of Cebu Pacific's A320neo family jets are grounded awaiting engine inspections. These inspections are being conducted to check for potentially flawed components in RTX subsidiary Pratt & Whitney's GTF engines, which are used on some A320neo jets. This engine problem is expected to cause issues for the carrier for the next few years. This upcoming decision by Cebu Pacific is significant for the airline and the aviation industry as a whole. It will be interesting to see which aircraft manufacturer the airline chooses for its future fleet expansion.

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