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Business

AirAsia Phl eyes revival of international flights by Q1 2022

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
AirAsia Phl eyes revival of international flights by Q1 2022
Scenes around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City on Saturday afternoon (August 7, 2021). Non-essential travel is suspended in and out of Metro Manila, after the government placed NCR under enhanced community quarantine for two weeks, from August 6 to 20, 2021 amid the threat of Delta coronavirus variant.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Budget carrier AirAsia Philippines intends to revive its international network by the first quarter of next year as part of the company’s efforts to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Ricky Isla said the airline’s priorities at present include rebuilding its domestic commercial flights, as well being ready for international services by the first quarter of 2022.

For its domestic network, AirAsia is looking to have its operations in Clark return by the fourth quarter.

“We will most likely reopen with our Clark trips towards the peak season of November and December,” Isla said.

“The best time is when there is already what you call a good herd immunity in Manila and Central Luzon like Clark, then we will be confident that we will be extending also our Clark hub as our point of destination,” he said.

AirAsia started its Philippines operations in Clark in March 2012, making it one of the carriers actively boosting connectivity and mobility in various local economies in North and Central Luzon.

Pre-pandemic, AirAsia Philippines flew to 10 domestic and three international destinations from Clark namely, Cagayan de Oro, Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, Incheon, Kaohsiung, and Taipei.

“Right now cost is very important to us and planning our capacity management is also very important. What is important is we have to maintain our cost of operations, that’s the reason why we’re concentrating right now almost on our Metro Manila hub,” Isla said.

Aside from its commercial operations, Isla said the company’s main priorities at present also include the strengthening of its cargo business.

“In the future, because remember air transport also includes cargo, that cargo also really has to expand its customer experience. Before it was just airport to airport, now you have airport to your point of destination, and airport up to the household,” he said.

So far, AirAsia’s rebound is continuing as it carried a total of 171,543 passengers from April to June, an increase from the 168,527 passengers carried in the first quarter.

Year-on-year, the number was a 489 percent jump from the 29,111 passengers carried in the second quarter of 2020.

At present, AirAsia Philippines said 92 percent of its flight operations team, including pilots and cabin crew, have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The efforts on ensuring that our Allstars get vaccinated stems from AirAsia’s core values of putting people first. We hope our guests feel valued because we are putting a premium to their safety amid threats of the COVID-19 Delta variant spread. However, we would still want to remind our guests to strictly observe established health and safety protocols as we all move forward to a better normal,” AirAsia Philippines spokesperson Steve Dailisan said.

AIRASIA
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