Yao group gets $16-M from AirAsia-Zest Air deal

Drinks-turned-airline businessman Alfredo Yao receives $16 million and a 13% stake in AirAsia Philippines

PARTNERS. The Philippine unit of Malaysia's AirAsia signs a share swap deal with the Yao family for a stake in Zest Air

MANILA, Philippines – The group of drinks-turned-airline businessman Alfredo Yao received US$16 million and a 13% stake in the Philippine unit of Malaysia-based budget airline giant AirAsia Berhad after the two parties completed their deal.

In a statement on Friday, May 24, AirAsia Philippines said the March 11 strategic alliance agreement with Yao’s Zest Airways was completed last May 10.

AirAsia now controls Zest Air after the budget carrier acquired an 85% economic interest and 49% voting rights, as well as 100% stake in Yao’s Asiawide Airways Inc.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes owns 40% of the carrier, while Yao joins the other Filipino owners — including Maan Hontiveros, Antonio “Tony Boy” Cojuangco Jr. and Michael Romero — for the remaining 60%, each owning not more than 15%. 

DEAL. Marianne Hontiveros, AirAsia Philippines CEO, and Ambassador Alfredo Yao, majority shareholder of Zest Air Group, at the signing of the a strategic alliance between the two aviation companies. File photo by Aya Lowe/Rappler

Clark and Manila airports

“Following the acquisition Philippines AirAsia will be able to access the principal Manila airport, NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila), and take advantage of the additional passenger traffic connecting to other parts of the Philippines,” AirAsia said.

AirAsia Philippines currently operates domestic and regional flights at Clark, about 100 kilometers from the congested NAIA.

“With this partnership in place, other than our current base in Clark, Philippines’ AirAsia would be able to operate from the main airport in Manila as well. This helps us to attract feeder traffic into Clark and leverage on Zest Air’s attractive slots from Manila,” AirAsia Philippines CEO Hontiveros said in statement.

Hontiveros said tickets for ZestAir flights are now available on AirAsia website and will be part of the AirAsia Group’s network.

Before the two parties entered into a deal, Zest Air was the 5th player in the competitive Philippine airline industry composed of about 6 private commercial players.

About 80% of the domestic air traffic in the Philippines is served by budget airlines. – Rappler.com

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