Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific has signed an agreement with Switzerland-based IPR Conversions Ltd. to convert two of its ATR 72-500 passenger aircraft into freighters, according to a statement released on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
This will be the airline’s first time operating dedicated cargo aircraft.
“We will be able to offer cargo capacity that no other carrier in the Philippines can provide,” said Lance Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Pacific. “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.”
Cebu Pacific expects to receive the first conversion in the fourth quarter of 2018. The aircraft will continue to be operated by wholly owned subsidiary CebGo.
The ATR freighters will be used to expedite the transport of high-value and time-sensitive commodities such as marine products, computing equipment and heavy machinery to various points across the country.
They will be capable of taking off and landing at airports with runways shorter than 1.2km in length, making up about two thirds of the 90 airports in the Philippines.
The conversion of the passenger ATR 72-500 into a freighter involves the installation of a large cargo door which will allow standard containers and pallets to be loaded. Each aircraft will have space for seven AKE unit load devices and can carry approximately seven tonnes of cargo.
Both aircraft will be converted at the Sabena Technics DNR S.A.S. facility in Dinard, France.
Cebu Pacific began taking delivery of newer ATR 72-600s in September 2016 to replace its ATR 72-500s.