May 18, 2020 / 12:50 AM / 16 days ago

Philippines' Cebu Air defers plane capex, seeks govt support amid virus crisis

May 18 (Reuters) - The Philippines’ Cebu Air Inc said on Monday it would defer previously planned aircraft capital expenditure and was in talks with the government for fiscal support as the coronavirus pandemic decimates demand for travel.

Last year, the country’s largest budget carrier finalised the purchase of about 30 Airbus SE aircraft worth $6.8 billion at list prices as it sought larger, fuel-efficient jets to help it expand.

However, those plans have been upended by the unprecedented crisis brought on by the pandemic, as strict travel restrictions imposed globally have left the airline industry largely grounded.

Only last week, Singapore Airlines Ltd reported its first-ever annual loss, while Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd entered voluntary administration in April.

Cebu said it was reviewing its long-term fleet plan and had begun discussion with suppliers “to establish flexibility to adapt to current events”.

Philippine carriers suspended all services in mid-March after the government placed the country under stringent lockdown to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. They later wrote to the government seeking help in the form of emergency credit lines and fee waivers.

($1 = 50.6500 Philippine pesos)

Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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