MANILA, Philippines – “This airline is going to be big.”
Thus tweeted AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes on Tuesday, March 27, a day before the official launch of AirAsia Philippines, the latest carrier to join the thriving aviation industry in the country.
Fernandes, along with AirAsia Deputy Group CEO Dato Kamarudin Meranun and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani, is in the country to send off the new airline’s maiden voyage, from Clark’s Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) to Kalibo, the gateway to Boracay Island.
“Arrived in Philippines. Very cool to see airasia (sic) Philippines on the fids [Flight Information Display System] screen. Our first flights tomorrow,” Fernandes, touted as Asia’s Richard Branson, tweeted upon arrival in Clark, the airline’s hub.
AirAsia Philippines is the local affiliate of Asia’s biggest budget carrier and Malaysia-based AirAsia, and was awarded its license to operate by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) last February 7.
AirAsia Philippines is a joint venture between a group of Filipino businessmen, led by Tonyboy Cojuangco, and AirAsia International Ltd., led by Fernandes, and was formally launched last August 2011.
The low-cost carrier currently has 2 Airbus A320 aircraft, and will initially operate flights from Clark to Davao and Kalibo. Flights between Clark and Puerto Princesa will commence next month, to be followed by other domestic destinations.
The new airline is the 6th Philippine-based commercial airline at present, and will be competing head-to-head with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, AirPhil Express, ZestAir, and SeaAir.
It promises extremely low fares and a no-frills travel experience, hallmarks of low-cost carriers. “We aim to give the best lowest rates possible,” AirAsia Philippines CEO Maan Hontiveros was earlier quoted as saying.
The company said they will also mount international flights, particularly to East and Southeast Asian destinations.
Buzz about the new airline came way back in December 2010, followed by the delivery of their first plane in August 2011 – but delays in processing of government permits pushed back the launch to March this year.
With the start of AirAsia Philippines’ operations, the agencies overseeing Clark and Davao airports are scheduled to signe a cooperation deal, a “sister agreement” between the two international airports.
This is in line with the plan to decongest the country’s main airport, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. – Rappler.com