Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

CEBU PACIFIC Air is planning to launch a series of South-East-Asian regional and transpacific services following its successful start earlier this year operating domestic routes in the Philippines.

Applications have already been filed for international services to Guam, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Seoul and Taipei.

According to Diego Garrido, Cebu Pacific Air's chief advisor on marketing and operations, discussions about new aircraft have been held with all the major manufacturers, but McDonnell Douglas is the front runner. "We want to keep maintenance costs down, so we are looking at the acquisition, either through lease or purchase, up to four MD-83s which would allow commonality with the DC-9s already in service. December 1996 or January 1997 is the earliest target for the new services [and aircraft delivery]," he says.

The Filipino carrier, which began flying in March, operates a fleet of four 102-seat McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s on "no-frills" services from Manila to Cagayan, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Tacloban.

The ex-Garuda DC-9s are owned by the airline's parent company JG Summit Holdings. The carrier says that it has already achieved a system-wide load factor of 65% on its domestic routes. A reconfiguration in August, involving the removal of galleys, will result in each aircraft's capacity increasing to 119.

Garrido says that the start-up carrier will need to build its regional services and management team before expanding into transpacific services, but emphasises that Cebu is "-prepared and committed to participate in the Philippines to US market... we will be aggressive about seeking the opening of slots to the USA, but the pace will be dictated by the Government's decisions to permit another [Filipino] carrier to operate to the USA".

Preliminary discussions are being held for the acquisition of two wide-bodied aircraft suitable for long-haul services. Transpacific services, are not expected to begin until later in 1997.

Source: Flight International