Philippines AirAsia flying to Bali, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh soon

MANILA, Philippines – The local unit of Southeast Asia's biggest budget airline AirAsia Berhad is set to fly from Manila to Bali and Jakarta in Indonesia as well as to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam soon. This will give Philippines AirAsia enough muscle to face to regional competition just before it goes public in 2018.

"We have to firmly establish our position as a truly ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) airline. This is to prove the world that we are able to operate in all ASEAN countries, and these 3 destinations are the only missing links," Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador told reporters on the sidelines of a briefing in Taguig City on Thursday, October 19.

AirAsia Berhad is the only airline that directly serves all 10 ASEAN countries with established operations in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. (READ: From 2 jets to 70: AirAsia returns to its Clark roots)

Comendador told reporters that Philippines AirAsia it is eyeing to conduct its initial public offering (IPO) in the middle of 2018.

The Philippines AirAsia chief said the carrier will start flying to Ho Chi Minh on November 17. It will operate flights from Manila to Ho Chi Minh every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.

The budget airline will start its Manila to Jakarta on January 9, 2017, and its Manila to Bali flights starting on January 19 next year.

Aside from these 3 ASEAN destinations, Comendador said Philippines AirAsia is also looking at connecting Clark International Airport to Taipei, Korea, and China soon.  (READ: APEC 2015: AirAsia banks on Philippines after first airliner disaster)

The airline is planning to increase its fleet to 17 jets this year from the current 14 to accommodate its new operations. By 2032, the airline targets to have a total of 70 planes.

To fund the carrier's expansion plan, Comendador said Philippines AirAsia is talking to some foreign banks to plan its debut on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Philippines AirAsia operates a fleet of 14 aircraft with domestic and international flights out of hubs in Manila, Cebu, Kalibo, and now Clark. It flies to Manila, Davao, Cebu, Kalibo, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Puerto Princesa, Clark, Shanghai, Taipei, Incheon, Hong Kong, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, and Singapore. –