Cebu Pacific Air has yet to receive a firm timeline from Airbus for when its first A321neo will be delivered.
The airline’s chief operations adviser Rick Howell tells FlightGlobal that it has received several delay notifications and that the “contractual date” for the delivery of the first aircraft, initially set for November, has passed.
“We had a team in Hamburg in the last week to collect the A321ceo, so we know our neo is on the ramp with engines attached. We see that it exists and is not too far away,” says Howell.
He understands that the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered aircraft is now likely to be delivered in January, although this has not been confirmed.
On how many A321neos the airline will likely add next year, he says: “That’s a bit fluid at the moment. We’re still in discussions with Airbus and they’re still trying to resolve their production plan for 2019.”
Howell adds however that the Philippine low-cost carrier still expects seat growth of 10-12% in 2019, which will translate into five A320neos and “probably” five A321neos. It will also be retiring older A320ceos from its fleet, such that all its A320s will be Sharklet-fitted by the end of the third quarter.
"Right now there's no clear plan from Airbus on when the construction problem [for the A321neo] at Hamburg is going to be resolved. We're doing a lot of iterative work on our network plan as the information is released... it's not our preferred way of doing business but they are our key supplier and there really is no other way than to work with them collaboratively to get aircraft into service as quickly and smoothly as possible."
Cebu Pacific initially deferred deliveries of its 32 A321neos on order to the fourth quarter of 2018, due to delays with the PW1100G engines. When it made the announcement in June 2017, it also ordered seven A321ceos.
Airbus is facing customisation complexity on the A321neo as well as a shift to new automation. These have exacerbated earlier A320neo production problems, caused by technical snags and shortages of PW1100G engines.