September 11, 2016 at 11:55 pm
Darwin G. Amojelar
AirAsia, Southeast Asia’s largest budget airline, is adding five Airbus A320s next year to support its Philippine unit’s regional expansion.
“We are excited [about the Philippine market]. We are going to add five aircraft next year, which is the first time that we are adding for a while. We are doing very well and we are making money,” AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes said.
The airline currently has 13 operating aircraft servicing domestic destinations such as Kalibo (Boracay), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Tagbilaran (Bohol), Cebu and Tacloban. They also fly to China, Korea, Macau, Taipei and Hong Kong.
AirAsia Philippines chief executive Dexter Comendador said the airline planned to expand operations to Bangkok, Singapore and Vietnam.
“We are working on it because Manila is congested. Any new planes we have to put outside Manila. We will probably go out to Cebu, Kalibo and Clark,” Comendador said.
Air Asia Philippines also filed with the Civil Aeronautics Board an application for 1,260 weekly seats entitlements in accordance to the existing confidential memorandum of agreement signed by the Philippines and Korea in November 2015.
“Koreans are one of the biggest tourist market in the Philippines. We expect to be adding more flights to Korea by October,” Comendador told reporters at the sidelines of Air Asia’s Asean Heroes 2016 event.
Air Asia Philippines flies to Busan and Incheon in Korea from Manila, Kalibo and Cebu.
Data from the Tourism Department showed that South Korea remained the top source of tourists for the Philippines with 686,118 visitors, constituting 23.04 percent of the total 2.98 million arrivals in the first half.
Air Asia Philippines earlier reported a drop in net losses by 30.6 percent to P539.1 million in April to June from P777 million in the same period last year.
Revenue in the period grew 11 percent to P2.57 billion from P2.33 billion last year, as passenger volume increased 3 percent year-on-year and average fare rose 14 percent.
Air Asia Philippines carried 1.005 million passengers in the second quarter, up from 976,381 passengers last year.