Philippine-based carriers are set to receive around 84 more aircraft in the coming years as of this writing. This is both good news and bad news. Good news is that the Philippine commercial aviation industry is indeed growing. This means more tourism, more jobs, more investment, and more taxes. Bad news is, the government is currently pressured to really come up with a new airport that will serve Metro Manila.
We now look into the pending aircraft orders of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Philippines Air Asia, PAL Express, CebGo, and AirSwift as of this day, September 16, 2019. We also predict upcoming orders of these airlines.
These 81 orders are not necessarily additional aircraft to the present fleet as some of the older ones will either be returned to their lessors or retired.
We now look into the list of the pending aircraft orders of our local airlines.
The Philippine flag carrier is set to receive 14 more Airbus A321NEOs configured for regional flights otherwise known as the A321NEO SR or shorter range. The airline has a total order of 21 A321NEOs where 6 are configured for longer range flights with 168 seats and an auxiliary center tank. Fifteen of the remaining 21 are configured for regional flights. One of the 15 shorter range A321NEOs have been delivered while another is set for delivery within the coming months.
Now this airline has a huge book for delivery but at the same time, they are also set to retire many of their older aircraft. Presently, Cebu Pacific is set to take in 62 more aircraft where 31 of them were ordered during the 2019 Paris Air Show. This consists of all 16 Airbus A330-900NEO which will have 460 seats, 10 A321XLR with 240 seats, and 5 additional A320NEO. On top of this, Cebu Pacific has a pending order of 28 more Airbus A321NEOs and 3 A320NEO jets. The airline is set to retire all its old A320 aircraft to be replaced with the new NEOs. The current 8 A330-300 will be returned to its lessors. Once all aircraft have been delivered, Cebu Pacific will be operating an all Airbus NEO fleet, sans the 7 A321-200CEOs which were earlier delivered due to the late delivery schedule of the NEOs.
The Philippine-based subsidiary of AirAsia Berhad, Philippines AirAsia is set to receive one more Airbus A320-200WL. The airline though has announced that it will expand its fleet from 25 to 50 in the coming years. It is also still unknown if Philippines AirAsia will be replacing its present A320s with A320 and A321 NEOs.
Philippine Airlines subsidiary PAL Express (Air Philippines) is set to receive two more Bombardier Q400NG turbo props which will bring its total number of Q400NG aircraft to 12. The airline is also expected to receive More Airbus A321-200CEO from Philippine Airlines as its mother company slowly takes more A321NEO. Currently, PAL Express operates 6 of the 24 A321CEOs of Philippine Airlines.
Cebu Pacific subsidiary CebGo is set to receive two more ATR 72-600 turboprops, bringing to a total of 16 aircraft. Some of the present ATR 72-500 will be converted into dedicated freighters while the rest will be retired from the fleet.
The Ayala-owned boutique airline AirSwift is set to receive its last ATR 42-600 on its order list. The airline operates a mix of ATR 72-600 and ATR 42-500 turboprops.
Prediction of Future Orders
Between today to 2025, we do foresee that local airlines will be putting more orders both for additional capacity and fleet modernization purposes. Notable of these are Philippine Airlines and Philippines AirAsia. We now predict what these additional orders may be.
PAL's two Boeing 777-300ER are nearing 10 years old by November and their lease are to expire by 2021, hence, the airline needs to make a decision regarding replacements, hence, it will be a toss-up between Airbus and Boeing once again. Our prediction is that the airline will take both but the Airbus will be coming in first. PAL has 6 more options for A350s which they may exercise anytime, and on the horizon is the A350-1000ULR. Should PAL put an order for both the A350-1000ULR and the B777-9X, the airline will be receiving the former first. At the same time, PAL is not letting go of Boeing anytime or perhaps in its lifetime. The American aircraft manufacturer is now pitching the 777-9X for PAL as replacements for the 777-300ERs. Both the B777-9X and the A350-1000 will compliment each other in terms of meeting the network requirements of the airline.
With its plans to go public and upcoming fleet expansion, we do foresee that Philippines AirAsia (PAA) will be operating Airbus NEO jets. On top of this, we see the coming of Philippines AirAsia X. Airport congestion is not only a problem in the Philippines but also in other airports in Asia. One way of increasing capacity without asking for additional slots is to operate wide body and bigger aircraft. With 353 Airbus A321NEOs and 78 Airbus A330-900NEOs, we do see some of them joining the fleet of Philippine AirAsia as part of the fleet expansion program from 25 to 50 aircraft. The Airbus A321NEO will allow PAA to add more capacity in its present routes. As for the A330-900NEO, this will definitely not operate under Philippines AirAsia should they be operating these widebody NEO jets also in the Philippines. The most likely scenario we see here is the formation of Philippines AirAsia X as a joint venture between Philippines AirAsia and AirAsia X, similar to Thai AirAsia X and Indonesia AirAsia X.
The commercial airline industry in the Philippines is growing and exciting times are indeed ahead. We just hope that the country gets a bigger gateway. Presently, Clark International Airport Terminal 2 is on its final stages of completion and Sangley is on the works to be used as a commercial airport to help decongest Manila. The New Manila International Airport in Bulacan is still a long way to go and the NAIA consortium's proposal is still not yet approved as of this writing.
What other airlines do you think would put in orders between now to 2025?