aviation industry

With new lockdown, airlines need a lifeline

Aika Rey
With new lockdown, airlines need a lifeline

LIFELINE NEEDED. An A320 AirAsia aircraft.

AirAsia

'What we are now asking for is an extension of the waived airport fees and parking fees. That alone will be a big help to the airline companies,' says AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla

Airlines will be asking for the government’s help, as Metro Manila again goes into lockdown.

On Wednesday, August 4, AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer and Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) chairman Ricky Isla told reporters that they will be meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in the second week of August.

Isla noted that bank guarantees discussed as early as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan 1 “remained pending,” but airlines will be asking for a different kind of lifeline to help weather the new lockdown.

“What we are now asking for is an extension of the waived airport fees and parking fees. That alone will be a big help to the airline companies,” Isla said.

The ACAP chair also said the group will be asking airport authorities for some reprieve on office rentals.

ACAP earlier said airlines pay P500 million per month for the fees.

In 2020, CAAP waived airport fees for domestic carriers under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2. This law already expired on June 30.

Airlines have canceled flights given Metro Manila’s return to enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20. Isla said that AirAsia, for example, has held off 40% of its flights, mostly bound for tourist destinations.

Isla shared that if not for the more virulent COVID-19 Delta variant, the budget carrier would have been able to mount four round-trip flights to Boracay in August.

“We were supposed to pick up,” he said.

At least 70% of AirAsia employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The carrier is targeting to have its entire force inoculated by end-2021, in a bid to strengthen travel confidence.

In a recent survey the airline conducted among its passengers, 91.4% of the 1,600 surveyed expressed confidence in flying with a vaccinated crew.

Must Read

LIST: Flight destinations requiring vaccination cards for entry

LIST: Flight destinations requiring vaccination cards for entry

For this year, AirAsia is prioritizing rebuilding its commercial income with domestic flights, and then its international segment by the first quarter of 2022.

It is also eyeing to strengthen its cargo business, which currently contributes 10% to its overall revenues.

The carrier is also planning to bring AirAsia Fresh to the Philippines “by Christmas.” AirAsia Fresh is its online grocery arm, which was first launched in Malaysia and recently debuted in Singapore. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.