Philippines urged to hasten airport upgrades

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Philippines urged to hasten airport upgrades
Passengers queue at the check-in counters while others spend the night inside the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City ahead of their flights on October 29, 2022.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

SINGAPORE – Malaysia’s largest airline AirAsia hopes that the Philippine government can expedite airport upgrades to increase the country’s flight volume and bolster tourism.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes yesterday said that he plans to expand the international network of AirAsia Philippines once all the airport developments in the country are completed.

As such, Fernandes asked the government to speed up plans to develop new airports and upgrade existing ones, saying that the Philippines can scale up its travel sector once its infrastructures are improved.

“I think that lots can be done with the new airports, and Cebu is doing a great job. Obviously, we want it to be faster, but the pace is good and at least it’s happening,” Fernandes told The STAR.

At present, the public and private sectors are working on building airports around Metro Manila that would serve as secondary gateways to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). San Miguel Corp., for one, is spending P735.6 billion to put up the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulacan.

The NMIA, scheduled to be completed by 2027, is set to be the largest airport in the country that would feature four runways against NAIA’s one.

Further, a consortium led by the Virata and Yuchengco Groups is investing $11 billion to deliver the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) in Cavite, a gateway that would host two runways and can serve up to 75 million passengers a year.

The SPIA Consortium in February signed the $11 billion deal with the Cavite local government, paving the way for the group to start land development and, soon, civil works.

Fernandes said AirAsia Philippines wants to prioritize the expansion of its international network, especially as the competition for domestic flights is getting tighter.

“I think we focus more on the international side at the moment. The Philippines is an area that most of the world doesn’t know how beautiful it is. We did a lot of this in Indonesia and we want to start doing that in the Philippines. We think that the domestic right now is well served by Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines,” Fernandes said.

As proof of this focus on the international segment, AirAsia Philippines will offer a seat sale on March 4 at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, wherein base fares will go for as low as P33 for local flights and P833 for foreign trips.

Starting this March, AirAsia Philippines will restart its scheduled services to Guangzhou, Macau and Shenzhen, scaling up its international network made up of Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore, Osaka, Taipei, Kaohsiung and Narita.

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