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AFX News Limited
Philippines' Cebu Pacific to buy 4 more ATR turbo-prop planes
12.18.07, 3:46 AM ET



MANILA (Thomson Financial) - Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air Inc, a unit of Philippine conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Inc, said Tuesday it has placed firm orders for four more turbo-prop planes from ATR, the turboprop joint venture between EADS and Finmeccanica SpA.

The four ATR 72-500 aircraft, to be used for smaller airports, bring to 10 the number of aircraft firmly ordered by Cebu Pacific's from ATR, worth more than 178 million dollars, Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific president said in a statement.

Gokongwei said the airline's latest fleet expansion is expected to boost flights to key destinations in the domestic route, alowing it to serve more cities with runways too short for its Airbus fleet.

Currently, only 25 out of the 75 airports in the Philippines are wide enough to accommodate Airbus aircraft.

Cebu Pacific announced earlier this year its acquisition of up to 14 ATR aircraft consisting of six firm orders and eight options. This is on top of the maximum 20 Airbus jets worth 1.3 billion dollars it announced last year.

The first six ATRS will be delivered in 2008 and four in 2009. The first four Airbus A320 planes will be delivered in 2008, which will bring Cebu Pacific's fleet to 25 by the end of 2008.

Gokongwei had said that with the entry of the new ATR 72-500 planes, Cebu Pacific will be able to compete head-on with other smaller airlines such as SeaAir and Asian Spirit in flying directly to Caticlan in Aklan, which is nearer to Boracay than Kalibo, also in Aklan, where Cebu Pacific currently has daily flights.

Caticlan and Kalibo airports cater mainly to Boracay-bound tourists, the country's current number one tourist destination. Some 200,000 of the estimated 556,000 annual visitors to Boracay land on Caticlan.

Cebu Pacific's Caticlan service using the ATR 72-500 planes will start on February 29 next year.

(1 US dollar = 42.00 pesos)

rocel.felix@thomson.com

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