Cebu Pacific eyes Australia service with A321neos

A321neo(1).JPGAustralia is one destination Philippine-based low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific will be able to serve thanks to its order today of 30 Airbus A321neos (above), with 10 options due for delivery from 2015. The carrier also firmed options for an additional seven A320s.

“Cebu Pacific has made the largest firm order for the Airbus A321neo aircraft in the world. These 220-seater aircraft will be a real ‘game changer’ for Cebu Pacific because the A321neo will have a much longer range. We will be able to serve cities in Australia, India and Northern Japan, places the A320 cannot reach,” said the airline’s CEO and president Lance Gokongwei.

Based on a nominal A321neo range of 3160nm, any future Cebu Pacific operation will largely be confined to northern Australia if going non-stop, with Perth a slim possibility and southern Queensland not possible unless the A321neo delivers more range or Cebu operates flights with a restricted payload. Melbourne and Sydney are clearly out of the aircraft’s present range chat:

A321neo range from MNL.gifAn order like this, Airbus sales executives will be keen to say, reminds other airlines in this region of the need for the most fuel-efficient aircraft to keep their cost competitive. No doubt Airbus is targeting regional A320 operators like Tiger and Jetstar.

Jetstar has a joint-venture with AirAsia, who is expected to place a large order for A320neos at next week’s Paris Air Show. The AirAsia-Jetstar alliance has yet to achieve the benefits the two carriers mentioned when launching the alliance in 2010. A320 operator Air New Zealand is the launch customer for A320s with Sharklets, which will reduce fuel burn by 3.5% when delivered next year.

As we reported earlier today:

Cebu Pacific has not made an engine selection between the CFM International Leap-X and Pratt & Whitney PW1100G for the A321neo. The airline’s existing fleet of A320 family aircraft are all powered by CFM International CFM56 engines.

The order will more than double its fleet and triple its capacity, said Cebu Pacific. It operates 33 aircraft, comprising 25 A320s and eight ATR turboprop aircraft. It also has 18 more A320s on order, to be delivered from the second half of 2011 until 2014. With the new order, the airline’s total firm orders will increase to 55.

Gokongwei said the A321neos will reduce the airline’s unit cost per seat “to a level that cannot be achieved flying A320s”.

There is no word yet on what CASA may think of the carrier’s approach to safety demonstrations.

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