Cebu Pacific eyes ‘wet lease’ with Bulgaria Air

BUDGET carrier Cebu Pacific said Tuesday that it was considering a short-term “wet lease” agreement with a charter company of Bulgaria Air amid the rising number of grounded aircraft due to engine issues.

The arrangement refers to a leasing agreement where one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance and insurance to another airline, paying by hours operated.

Cebu Pacific has said that it also expects to receive proposals from suppliers before yearend after issuing requests for proposals to both Airbus and Boeing for 100 to 150 narrowbody jets.

“We’ve taken all these initiatives to uphold our commitment to delivering affordable, safe and dependable flights,” Cebu Pacific CEO Michael Szucs said.

Cebu Pacific will begin inspections from January 2024 across its A320/321 NEO aircraft powered by Pratt and Whitney (P&W) engines.

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The airline expects to have 10 aircraft grounded in January, with the number rising through 2024 to 20.

Despite the engine issues, Cebu Pacific is confident it will continue its financial and capacity growth in 2024 with its system-wide network forecast to exceed 100 percent of pre-pandemic capacity in the fourth quarter of this year.

The airline flew four million domestic passengers in the third quarter, up 5 percent year on year while also growing its international operations.

“Going into the fourth quarter, we remain optimistic as we saw our domestic market share at 55 percent in October despite challenges on fleet availability,” Szucs said,

“Aside from that, we expect that by the end of the year, our systemwide network will be at 103 percent of pre-pandemic levels; domestic will continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels, while international is seen to be at about 93 percent,” he added.

“By year end, we expect to fly to 60 destinations, through over 100 routes and at least 2,700 weekly flights.”

Cebu Air Inc. operating as Cebu Pacific, saw its share price drop by 75 centavos to P32.00 on Tuesday.