Cebu Pacific stays loyal to Airbus

by Lois Calderon, ANC

Posted at Jan 22 2013 10:07 AM | Updated as of Jan 23 2013 12:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - While Boeing is busy sorting out its Dreamliner mess, Airbus delivers its own fuel-saving jets as Philippine carriers snap up its latest A-320s.

Cebu Pacific got its newest Airbus jet on Monday, boosting its fleet to 42. It is buying 19 more until 2016 in a deal worth over a billion dollars.

AirAsia lays claim to being the first to own the latest A-320. The jet landed in Clark last week from Kuala Lumpur.

PAL sources say Airbus' fuel-saving models were also part of the $7 billion deal it closed last year.

The Airbus A-320 has wings called "sharklets", designed to cut fuel costs by 4% per flight and allow the plane to fly an additional 100 nautical miles.

Cebu Pacific gets its A-320 with sharkets. Photo by Raoul Esperas

Fuel-saving models like this are at the center of a raging contest between Airbus and Boeing.

Boeing overtook Airbus last year as the world's largest maker of passenger jets, although Boeing's state-of-the-art 787s are now out of the sky due to problems with its batteries.

Airbus says losing to Boeing last year for the first time in a decade was just a fluke.

"If you look at last 2,3, 5 years, on average we're still way ahead of Boeing and in terms of backlog as well so we can still say we still have the leadership... If you look at our neo program, it has 62% market share so we're way ahead of our competitor," Jean Francois Laval, Airbus executive vice president for Asia, said.

Boeing has halted deliveries of its 787 until US regulators clear it.

Airbus meanwhile is producing more of its sharklets version at 42 planes a month.

"For us what's extremely important is that what happened recently shows that the industry, FAA, our competitor is extremely focused on safety and that's a key on our industry," Laval said.

Cebu Pacific has been loyal to Airbus for 8 years since it began refleeting in 2004, dumping its DC9s.

In the midst of Dreamliner's woes, Cebu Pacific says it will stay married to Airbus.

"If you're happy with your wife, you shouldn't look around anymore," Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific CEO said.