Airbus and the Philippines have had a long-standing relationship, going back more than 40 years to when Philippine Airlines ordered the original A300B4 widebody aircraft. Since then, the European manufacturer has had success across its commercial aircraft, defence and helicopter product lines in the country. Airbus also is developing its industrial partnerships in the Philippines, where local firms supply a wide range of equipment and parts for the company’s aircraft.
Airbus has been especially successful in the Philippine commercial airliner market, where it is the leading supplier of aircraft in the above-100-seat category. From the best-selling single-aisle A320 Family to the popular A330 and the new A350 XWB, Airbus aircraft are part of the fleets of all major carriers in the country.
The company’s relationship with the Philippines began in 1978, when Philippine Airlines (PAL) placed an initial order for the A300B4 – the world's first widebody twinjet airliner. Affectionately dubbed the “Lovebus” by PAL, the first aircraft arrived in Manila in 1979, marking the start of an extremely successful partnership between Airbus and the Philippines.
As of September 2020, PAL had 29 A320 Family aircraft in its fleet. PAL Express, the airline’s low-fare unit, had another 18 A320 Family aircraft in the fleet. The carrier also received 15 A330 widebodies.
In 2016, the airline finalised a major purchase agreement with Airbus for the order of six A350-900s. The first aircraft was delivered in July 2018, marking the start of the rejuvenation of PAL’s long-haul fleet.
Cebu Pacific, the country’s leading low-cost carrier, became an Airbus customer in 2004 when it selected the A320 Family to replace its fleet of legacy aircraft. The airline has 47 A320 Family aircraft as of September 2020, comprising 34 A320s and 13 A321s.
In 2011, Airbus finalised a major new order with Cebu Pacific for 32 of the latest-generation A321neo aircraft, reaffirming the fast-growing carrier’s all-Airbus fleet status in the jet category. Cebu Pacific received its first A321neo in January 2019.
In June 2013, Cebu Pacific took delivery of the first of six leased A330-300 widebody aircraft to start its long-haul low-cost operations. In July 2016, the airline ordered an additional two A330-300 aircraft directly from Airbus.
In November 2019, Cebu Pacific also placed a firm order for 16 A330neo and in January 2020 the airline added to its orderbook five A320neo and 10 A321XLR aircraft.
AirAsia Philippines, the local affiliate of the AirAsia Group, had 24 A320s in its fleet as of September 2020.
In the helicopter business, Airbus is the market leader in the Philippine civil and parapublic segment. It is the only full-fledged set-up of an OEM, providing spares, MRO and technical assistance to its operators in the country. Today, there are over 85 helicopters in service with 50-plus operators in the country, ranging from the light single-engine models such as the H125 and H130 to the light twin H135 and H145, H155, Dauphin family, and the ACH160. These operate on missions including law enforcement, and services to oil and gas operators, VVIP transport and commercial charters.
The Philippine Air Force ordered three Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft in February 2014. The delivery of all three C295s was completed on time in February 2016, allowing the service to modernise its transport fleet. The aircraft undertake a wide variety of military and humanitarian missions for the Philippine Air Force. In December 2018, the Philippine Air Force placed an additional order for one C295, which was delivered in September 2019.
Partnerships and Industrial Presence
Philippine aerospace companies have become increasingly important manufacturers of aircraft equipment and system parts for Airbus commercial aircraft over the last few years.
B/E Aerospace Philippines, which has a facility at Tanauan in Batangas province, produces galley systems for the A350 XWB. Moog Controls Corp (Philippines), which is based in Baguio City, manufactures actuators and valves control systems for all Airbus programmes, including the primary and secondary flight controls of the A350 XWB.