Philippine carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) has signed an agreement with Switzerland-based IPR Conversions Ltd to convert two of its ATR 72-500 passenger aircraft into freighters.
Cebu Pacific expects to receive the first of two converted aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2018. The aircraft will continue to be operated through CEB’s wholly owned subsidiary, CebGo.
This will make Cebu Pacific the only passenger airline in the Philippines with dedicated cargo aircraft and the move marks the first foray of Cebu Pacific in operating specialised aircraft to move cargo.
Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer, Lance Gokongwei said: “We will be able to offer cargo capacity that no other carrier in the Philippines can provide.
“With the freighter aircraft, we will further support the growing needs of the logistics industry, especially as the Philippines’ e-commerce businesses expand rapidly and look for faster delivery schedules.”
IPR Conversions, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is one of the leading ATR freighter conversion service providers in the world.
The conversion of two of CEB’s passenger ATR 72-500 aircraft into dedicated freighters involves the installation of a large cargo door, allowing standard containers and pallets used throughout the aviation industry to be loaded.
The aircraft will have space for seven AKE Unit Load Device (ULD) containers; and can carry more than seven tons of cargo.
Both aircraft will be converted at the facility of Sabena Technics in Dinard, France.
Cebu Pacific says the ATR aircraft is ideal for expediting the transport of high-value and time-sensitive commodities such as marine products, computing equipment and even heavy machinery to various points across the country and it is suited to landing and taking-off in airports with runways less than 1.2 kilometres long – which is too short for jet aircraft.
Cebu Pacific has about 50 per cent market share for domestic air cargo, currently utilising belly space of its passenger aircraft fleet. CEB’s cargo services have grown considerably, with revenues growing 29 per cent in 2017, to PHP4.6 Billion; and 26 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, to PHP1.3 Billion.