Home » Aviation, Press Releases » Cebu Pacific receives first of two dedicated air freighters

Cebu Pacific’s ATR 72-500 has a carrying capacity of up to 8 tons and is equipped with a large cargo door, allowing a load of up to seven LD3 air cargo containers, or five PBJ pallets. Photo from Cebu Pacific.

Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific took delivery of its first dedicated cargo aircraft—an ATR 72-500—the first of its type in the Philippines.

The ATR aircraft is equipped with a large cargo door, allowing a load of up to seven LD3 air cargo containers, or five PBJ pallets. With a carrying capacity of up to 8 tons of cargo, the freighter had been a passenger aircraft that was converted at the Sabena Technics DNR S.A.S. facility in Dinard, France.

Cebu Pacific in July last year said it had asked Swiss-based IPR Conversions Ltd. to convert two of the airline’s ATR 72-500 passenger aircraft into dedicated cargo aircraft. This marked the airline’s first foray into the operation of specialized aircraft for transporting cargo.

Cebu Pacific said the freighter has the ability to bring cargo in and out of destinations served by airports with short runways where only turboprops can take off and land.

The freighter will be operated by Cebu Pacific subsidiary Cebgo.  The second ATR 72-500 freighter is expected to be delivered late this year.

Cebu Pacific corporate communications director Charo Lagamon earlier told PortCalls the airline has seen a spike in demand for e-commerce and time-sensitive cargoes such as agricultural products and fresh produce. But since air cargo shares space with luggage in the belly of passenger aircraft, some cargoes are left waiting behind when the space gets full.

“The cargo freighters will allow traders, importers, those in the e-commerce business to be able to bring their stuff or bring whatever orders from point A to point B quickly, and then from there they can send it out directly to the recipients or buyers,” Lagamon said.

She said the airline is still fine-tuning the routes and mode of booking, and will make an announcement as soon as these details have been finalized.

Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei, in a separate statement, said the cargo aircraft will operate from Sangley Airport, which is set to become operational by November this year.

He added that the airline expects the cargo planes to make a couple of flights daily.

With a longer body to fit in more freight, an increased wingspan, and more powerful turboprop engines, the ATR aircraft is ideal for the fast transport of high-value and time-sensitive commodities such as marine products, computing equipment, and even heavy machinery to various points across the country, Cebu Pacific said in an earlier statement.

The aircraft is suited for landings and take-offs at airports with runways of less than 1.2 kilometers long—a distance that is too short for jet aircraft. Only about one-third of the 90 airports in the Philippines can accommodate jet landings.

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