Philippines domestic carrier Cebu Pacific Air has deferred plans to replace its 12 McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s with Boeing 717s due to the weakness of the national economy.

The airline has also put back plans to introduce international services, although it says it is negotiating for traffic rights to some Asian cities. Cebu Pacific has been eyeing key destinations in the region, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Guam, Thailand and Taiwan.

Cebu Pacific last year signed a letter of intent for 10 717s, with five options. "We have asked for a deferral until things get better. Hopefully this will be revived if there is some recovery," says vice-president corporate planning and external affairs Peggy Vera.

Vera says that exchange rates are a critical factor, as the aircraft will have to be paid for in dollars, while low traffic is also a problem.

She adds that if the programme is revived, it will probably involve fewer firm orders. The carrier is also understood to be considering larger, secondhand MD-80s. Plans still call for 14 aircraft by 2005.

Source: Flight International