We are all familiar with Cebu Pacific's present fleet of Airbus jets but little did many know that they were about to be a Boeing operator in 2004 as they were close to purchasing the Boeing 717! Sadly, Boeing no longer produces the 717 and if Cebu Pacific ordered the jet in favor of the Airbus A319, the Embraer E175, or the Bombardier CRJ200. They were supposed to serve as replacements for the ageing Douglas DC-9-30s during that time.
So first, what is the Boeing 717. They were actually the latest derivatives of the Douglas DC-9 during that time that they were in production. Cebu Pacific operated the DC-9-30 and were looking for replacements as maintenance costs of the ageing aircraft were rising. The Boeing 717-200 was originally marketed as the McDonnell Douglas MD-95, but as Boeing took over the company, the MD-95 was renamed to the Boeing 717 and sold as a regional aircraft.
The Boeing 717, just like the DC-9, makes use of rear fuselage-mounted twin Rolls Royce BR715 turbofan engines producing a thrust of 21,430lbf for the higher gross-weight version. It also makes use of the t-tail design due to the rear-mounted engines. It had a range of 2,648km for the basic version and 3,815km for the higher gross weight-version. So it is indeed safe to say that the Boeing 717 was simply a continuation of the DC-9, the aircraft Cebu Pacific was operating that time.
According to AviationWeek in 2000, Cebu Pacific was ordering 10 or the type of aircraft.
Why didn't the deal push through though?
Well first of all, Boeing could not guarantee the airline if the aircraft will remain in production. Second, the airline was able to secure a deal from Airbus that they will be able to deliver the A319 by 2005.
Cebu Pacific later on rejected the Boeing 717 offer and went for the Airbus deal with 10 Airbus A319 and 2 leased A320. The first aircraft was delivered in 2005. The Airbus jets were powered by CFM International CFM56 engines.
With the decision to go for the Airbus jets, the airline was fully able to expand and grow as the country's largest budget airline.
We are pretty sure it was a challenging transition from the DC-9 to the Airbus A320 family jets but all paid-off indeed. If Cebu Pacific would have proceeded with the 717 jets, we feel that their growth would have been restricted or, they would be a Boeing customer, potentially ordering 737s as replacements to the 717 which are presently out of production.
Today, Cebu Pacific operates an all-Airbus/EADS fleet consisting of A330-300s, A321NEOs, A320NEOs, A321CEOs, A320, and ATR 72-600. They also have a pending order of 16 Airbus A330-900NEO, 28 Airbus A321NEO, 10 A321NEO XLR, and 8 A320NEO jets.