By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, June 17 (PNA) — Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) has ordered 16 new planes from ATR, the European Turboprop aircraft manufacturer as part of its fleet renewal program.
At present, the airline company operates a fleet of eight ATR 72-500 aircraft, which will be retired as the new aircraft enter service.
CEB said in a statement that the entry into service of the 16 new ATR 72-600 would see the airline company with new generation aircraft to meet the growing demand in the Philippines for inter-island services.
However, deliveries of the new aircraft will start in the third quarter of 2016
The ATR 72-600 ordered by CEB will be equipped, for the first time, with the high density Armonia cabin, the widest cabin in the turboprop market.
It will be equipped with 78 slim-line seats and wider overhead bins with 30 percent more stowage space. These new technological innovations further enhance space and comfort for passengers.
About 330 ATRs – including more than 100 ATR 72-600s – are currently operated by 55 airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, where for many years now, they have been seen as the reference regional aircraft.
The ATR 72-600 has the lowest cost per seat mile in the 70 seat segment, with significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to similar class aircraft.
CEB President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei welcomed this latest development, saying that since the airline has been operating ATR aircraft since 2008, it has brought safe, reliable, and affordable air transport to smaller cities and islands throughout the Philippines.
“This order is an affirmation of our commitment to extend the convenience of affordable air travel to even more communities,” Gokongwei said.
“We are very pleased to be the launch customer of this new configuration of the ATR 72-600, as this will allow us to offer our customers more seats at even lower fares,” he added.
ATR Chief Executive Officer Patrick de Castelbajac for his part expressed happiness to continue its partnership with one of the leading airlines in South-East Asia.
“Cebu Pacific will also be able to benefit from the vast support network for ATR operators in Asia. When their first ATR 72-600 arrives, there will be five ATR pilot training centers in the region,” Castelbajac said.
ATR aircraft enjoys a high reputation not only for versatility as well as its ability to operate on short runways, which will allow CEB to expand its operations not only on main airports and several other airports around the country. (PNA)