SEC Clears AirAsia’s Acquisition of Zest Airways

BANGKOK – The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved AirAsia’s takeover of Zest Airways Inc.

“We have gotten an approval from SEC and we will now apply with the CAB and CAAP,” Joy Caneba, president and chief executive of AirAsia Zest told reporters flown in from Manila.

CAB refers to the Civil Aeronautics Board, while CAAP is the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Caneba said the AirAsia Group plans to consolidate its operations in the Philippines and rebrand AirAsia Zest to AirAsia Philippines.

“The local government in most of the provinces that we are operating recognized the value of AirAsia in the Philippines and they’ve been very supportive of us,” she said.

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group chief executive said the company would have one brand in the Philippines.

“It would be AirAsia Philippines. It’s going to be one brand,” he said.

In December last year, the Senate Committee on Public Services approved the sale of Zest Airways to AirAsia Philippines. The House Committee on Franchise also gave its consent in February last year.

Under Republic Act No. 9183, any change in the carrier’s ownership has to be approved by Congress.

After the transaction, former ambassador Alfredo Yao, who owned Zest Airways, will receive a 15 percent interest in AirAsia Philippines plus cash, while Marianne Hontiveros, Michael Romero and Antonio Cojuangco — all part owners of AirAsia Philippines — will get 15 percent each. Malaysia’s AirAsia Group owns 40 percent of AirAsia Philippines.

According to the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA), AirAsia would benefit from a single brand and product across the Philippine market.

Zest Air and AirAsia still face an uphill battle, as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines remain strong competitors, CAPA said.

AirAsia Zest and AirAsia Philippines operate a combined fleet of 15 aircraft, servicing domestic destinations such as Kalibo (Boracay), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Tagbilaran (Bohol), Cebu and Tacloban. Its international destinations include China and Korea.

Source: Darwin G. Amojelar,


ILOILO CITY, February 23 (PIA) — Direct flight services from Iloilo to Xiamen, China will be launched via AirAsia Airlines by September 2016.

This was the special announcement of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog during the Chinese New Year grand cultural show held Friday, Feb. 20 at the Iloilo Chinatown at Iznart Street here.

“AirAsia’s commitment is that starting next year, 2016, by September, they are going to launch the first Iloilo direct flights to Xiamen, China,” he announced.

He said that 80 percent of Chinese-Filipinos from Iloilo City are from Xiamen, China.

“Aside from that, AirAsia also committed to have direct flights from Iloilo to Incheon, South Korea by the last quarter of next year,” he said.

At present, the Iloilo International Airport caters to direct flights for two international destinations – Hong Kong and Singapore via Cebu Pacific Air.

There are three flights weekly for Hong Kong while two flights in a week are scheduled for Singapore. (JCM/LTP/PIA-Iloilo)

Source: PIA

Etihad Named Airline of the Year by Airline Economics Magazine

Etihad Named Airline of the Year by Airline Economics Magazine

Much to the likely chagrin of U.S. airlines, Airline Economics magazine has selected Etihad Airways as its Airline of the Year.

The announcement was made in Manila, Philippines, at the 2015 Aviation 100 Awards.

Domestic airlines have been running a verbal war with Etihad, and its fellow Middle East carriers Emirates and Qatar. American, Delta and United believe all three have an unfair competitive advantage in international flights by being subsidized by their respective governments.

In 2014 Etihad launched 10 new routes, including three in North America, and injected significant investment into new equity partnerships. Etihad also revealed a brand new look with new livery, uniforms and onboard offerings, with its first-of-kind “Residence by Etihad,” a virtual hotel room in the air.

“We are immensely proud that the achievements we made in 2014 have been recognized by our peers in the industry,” James Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Etihad Airways, said in a statement. “These awards remind us of the significant progress the airline has made in such a short space of time. We are looking forward to future accomplishments in 2015 and beyond as we continue to grow, with support of our employees, our equity partners and the industry.”

Philip Tozer-Pennington, managing editor of Airline Economics, said the Airline of the Year vote “recognizes performance in fleet and financial management and execution of business plan, which in the case of Etihad Airways also takes into account its amazing ability to expand at very little cost into key markets across the globe in 2014.”

Source: Thomaselli

Philippine Airlines Sells Two A320s To Allegiant Air

MANILA, Philippines – Allegiant Air has acquired two used Airbus A320 twin-engine jets from Philippine Airlines, the Las Vegas-based low-cost airline said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Allegiant Travel Company, parent of Allegiant Air, said it has entered into an agreement to purchase the two 177-passenger A320 jets from PAL.

The two aircraft are scheduled to enter the Allegiant operating fleet toward the end of 2015.

“We continue to be successful in finding high quality, used aircraft to support our future growth… These A320s will have 177 seats in the same configuration as our current A320s. As with our other aircraft transactions, we are able to purchase these aircraft for cash,” said Jude Bricker, Allegiant Air senior vice president of planning.

“Our strong balance sheet allows us to both find aircraft to support future growth and return cash to shareholders through our previously announced recurring dividend and continuation of our existing share repurchase program,” he said.

On Monday, Allegiant Air said it will acquire six used Airbus A319 jets from Cebu Pacific. The airline said it plans to have them in service by the end of 2017.

The airline did not announce terms of both acquisitions.


5J Sells Six A319s To Allegiant Air

MANILA – Cebu Pacific on Monday said it is selling six Airbus A319 aircraft to Las Vegas-based low-cost airline Allegiant Air.

The Gokongwei-led budget airline said the sale is covered by a forward sale agreement recently signed with Allegiant Air, a subsidiary of Allegiant Travel Company.

The aircraft will be delivered to Allegiant until 2016.

“This agreement is in line with CEB’s efforts to continuously improve operational efficiency by replacing and upgrading our fleet with the larger, more fuel efficient, and longer range A321neo aircraft,” Cebu Pacific president and chief executive Lance Gokongwei said in a statement.

The A321neo, which is the largest model in the A320neo series, incorporates new engines and large wing tip devices called sharklets.

The A321neo has a flying radius of over 6 hours and can be configured to have up to 240 seats, which will allow Cebu Pacific to access new markets in the Indian subcontinent and Australia, including Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Cebu Pacific currently operates a fleet of 54 aircraft comprised of 10 Airbus A319, 31 Airbus A320, five Airbus A330 and eight ATR 72-500 aircraft.

Between 2015 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of seven more brand-new Airbus A320, Airbus A330, and 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft.


Gov’t Releases Development Plans For Six Airports

THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) has released development plans for the country’s six major airports in a bid to further unlock their potentials for tourism.

Worth an initial P26.1 billion, the plans involve six major airports and are also covered in public-private partnerships (PPP). These facilities are the Puerto Princesa International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod-Silay International Airport, Davao International Airport, Laguindingan International Airport, and the New Bohol Airport.

These were revealed by Engineer Rafael S. Lavides, Division Chief of the Air Transport Planning Staff Department of the DoTC, during the hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Tourism in the Senate on Tuesday.

An initial P5.8 billion have been earmarked for initial investments in the Puerto Princesa International airport for the construction of new facilities, which include the development of its 2,600m x 45m runway and the expansion of the passenger terminal building, both of which are slated for completion in 2017.

The phase 1 of the development of the Iloilo International Airport, considered as the 5th busiest airport, will have an investment of P4 billion. The project development includes the expansion of the 13,700 sq. m. passenger terminal building to as much as five times of its original size.

Image Source: Simon Peter Tan

The Bacolod-Silay International Airport is also set to receive P3.6 billion for the phase 1 of the development and expansion of its runway and passenger terminal building; the Davao International Airport, P5.8 billion; Laguindingan International airport, P2.2 billion; and the New Bohol (Panglao) Airport, P4.5 billion.

Davao International Airport

The agency is eyeing to submit these plans to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee on the second quarter of this year, Mr. Lavides said.

For the Clark International Airport, Mr. Lavides said that the construction of a new terminal is under study and plans will be submitted to the NEDA ICC by the first quarter of this year.

Laguindingan Airport

Other key secondary airports, which include the Tuguegarao Airport, Roxas Airport, Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod International Airport, Surigao Airport, Butuan Airport, Ozamis Airport, Zamboanga International Airport, General Santos International Airport, and the Sanga-Sanga airport will also receive a total of P6 billion for their development.

Approximately P20 billion has also been earmarked for expansion and modernization projects for the Laoag International Airport, Naga Airport, Bicol International Airport, Tacloban Airport, Siargao Airport, Caticlan International Airport, Kalibo International Airport, Busuanga Airport and the San Vicente Airport.
Source: Alden M. Monzon,

IATA Review of Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Image Source: bilwander

Last Jan. 27, Anthony Houston, a senior IATA official made a presentation before a congressional committee. It seems officials of international airlines have been reporting safety problems and got tired and frustrated being ignored by NAIA officials.

I got a copy of the Power Point presentation from sources in the House of Representatives and only one word describes the contents: ALARMING. Indeed, that’s exactly what the IATA presentation said: “Safety Concerns at NAIA are significant and highly alarming.”

The Philippines ranked below the global average when it comes to three categories: Air Navigation Services, Aerodromes, and Accident Investigation. And worse: Indonesia is ranked higher for Air Navigation and Aerodromes (!).

A sound bite from the IATA official during the congressional hearing: “There’s only one airfield that’s certified to international standards: Cebu.”

IATA made the assessment as part of its program known as STEADES… for Safety Trend Evaluation Analysis and Data Exchange System. The IATA report documents the failures of P-Noy’s bosom buddy, retired Gen. Bodet Honrado as well as CAAP officials who ought to be concerned about safety.

Nakakahiya talaga itong manok ni P-Noy na si Honrado. One big accident and he will surpass the kill record of Alan Purisima at Mamasapano which surpassed the number of dead victims in the Luneta bus massacre Rico Puno, another P-Noy buddy, handled.

A large part of the deficiencies reported are as simple and low tech as the need for proper airport markings, signage and lighting that affects aircraft on the ground and in the air (e.g. approach). The IATA presentation pointed out that such deficiencies can result in unsafe events such as: Runway Incursions; Taxiway Incursions; Missed Approach (Go Around); Delays.

The report defines a Runway/ Taxiway Excursion as an incident where an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway. This adversely affects runway safety, as it creates the risk that an airplane taking off or landing will collide with the object. IATA gave a couple of examples.

The first example happened Nov. 11, 2014: B77W Taxi Out RUNWAY INCURSION:

The flight was on taxi-out at night. After crossing RWY 13, the flight was inadvertently turned onto TWY R1, instead of following taxiway C.  After the aircraft on landing rollout RWY 06 had passed, ATC cleared the reporting aircraft to continue on TWY R1, enter backtrack RWY 06, vacate via RWY R3 to the holding point RWY 06.  As a result of the runway backtrack, an aircraft lined up for departure RWY 06 was held on ground. Two other aircraft on approach runway 06 were instructed to go-around.

I don’t have space for the second example, but here are snippets from reports airlines have been regularly filing about their experience that they consider safety concerns:

Sample of Air Safety Reports for MNL in 2014:

“…due in part to a lack of RW signage, aircraft had inadvertently entered TWY R1.”

“There is no indication that aircraft will be entering RW13/31 in spite of taxi clearance to “Cross RW 13/31”.

“…Taxiway markings at this “hotspot” are not clearly defined.”

The signage along RW06 to indicate the location of E2 taxiway is not easily discernible in night conditions.”

“The signage is significantly faded and is not lighted, despite being within a known taxiway ‘hotspot’ area.”

“Lack of signage and markings available to ascertain demarcation of runway 13/31 from adjacent taxiway system, despite being located within a known ‘hotspot’ area.”

“RW guard lights for RW 13/31 at intersections along TWY D not switched on.  Additionally, there are no runway stop bar lights installed.”

“Subsequently, increased chance of missing left turn onto D from G-intersections leading out from T3 apron and inadvertently entering RW13/31.”

The airlines, speaking through IATA, claim they regularly send Flight Safety updates to airport authorities and their safety officers have followed up. They are particularly worried about runway incursions. The area around taxiway C and R1 are noted as taxiway /runway incursion hotspot area.

“The local airport authority has been requested to provide an update on the suggested enhancements to the signage and lighting within the area.”

But they “don’t get any response from the airport authority, and there are no ATC investigation reports that we are aware of.” That’s probably why they got IATA in on the act with a report to a congressional committee.

“The situation in Manila requires urgent follow up and I am glad that IATA had already planned a follow up mission to Manila on the 28th-29th January.”

IATA made some safety recommendations in their presentation before the congressional committee:

Immediate actions (completion within 3Q 2015) to reduce runway incursion risk – with focus on main ‘hotspot’.

Immediate response, investigation and follow-up to ALL airline safety reports.

More transparency, cooperation, coordination, communication with a: airlines; b: neighbor States/ Airports for technical advice on: Airfield visual ground aids to meet ICAO Standards.

Implementation of aerodrome SMS with a focus on hazard reporting and feedback systems.

Since NAIA is internationally notorious for congestion, IATA also offered some capacity and Efficiency recommendations:

Re-visit RWY 31 Operations.

Make obstacle assessment available for review.

Consult with airlines to determine best mitigation strategy.

Re-start program to reduce runway occupancy time and taxi delays.

Immediate steps to safely employ more advanced ATM practices to include reduced separation standards.

Immediate consultation with airline users to ensure CNS/ATM upgrades delivers operational improvement.

This is scary. These safety concerns with solutions as simple as fixing airport runway/taxiway signage should be immediately addressed. A collision on the ground can cause fatalities too. And the chaos being brought about by inadequate or lack of proper signage is another cause for the delays we all suffer when we take flights.

It is bad enough DOTC, through neglect, may cause a serious accident at MRT 3, it seems even at NAIA, lives are at stake everyday due to official negligence. This cannot be par for the course for transport officials who daily put people’s lives at risk.

Source:  (The Philippine Star)

Philippines, Singapore Sign New Air Agreement

THE PHILIPPINES and Singapore on Friday signed an amended air services agreement, increasing weekly seats to 18,888, opening up more commercial opportunities for both countries’ airline industries, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said on Monday.

 CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla said in a text message that the Philippine aviation regulator and its counterpart from Singapore held air talks last Friday, resulting in an expanded air services agreement.

“The Philippines and Singapore signed on Friday a new memorandum of understanding on air services, increasing the current capacity entitlements between Manila and Singapore to 18,888 seats per week from 17,627 for each country,” he added.According to Mr. Arcilla, Iloilo and Bacolod were added as co-terminal points for Singapore carriers, in addition to Cebu, Davao and Puerto Princesa.

This “means that Singaporean carriers can fly to Cebu for example and then proceed to Davao. Both countries also agreed to increase the limit on the frequencies for 5th freedom (rights), to 10 weekly from 8. This means that a Singapore carrier for example can operate a route that starts from Singapore to Manila and proceeds to Osaka, 10 times a week,” he said.

The Philippines and Singapore, Mr. Arcilla said, also agreed on 3rd-country code sharing, allowing airlines “to collaborate with those from third countries in marketing services.”The Philippines said it is set to sign new air service agreements with Oman, Taiwan and Australia in the near term.

The government plans to triple tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016 from about three million in 2010.

This year, the Philippines, has so far, concluded air talks with Ethiopia, South Africa, Macau, Canada, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore and France.

In 2013, the Philippine air panel concluded air negotiations with Macau, Brazil, Israel, Italy and Japan.

Source: Chrisee Jalyssa V. Dela Paz, BusinessWorldOnline

AirAsia To Offer ASEAN Pass in Philippines This Month

DAVAO CITY — The imminent integration of regional economies is beginning to make itself felt in the travel industry, with AirAsia soon to offer a ticketing scheme to flyers traveling to 137 destinations within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

 The ASEAN Pass scheme is being finalized for Philippine markets this month and will be launched with promotional schemes intended to attract price-conscious travelers, the company said in a statement.

The pass is structured as a pre-paid system from which credits will be deducted as the traveler flies. AirAsia says this will provide travelers “with great value as they are guaranteed to able to fly at very low rates within ASEAN,” it said.

“The list of routes featured in the ASEAN Pass will range from one credit up to a maximum of eight credits one way,” it said, with users also able to earn points that can be applied to future flights, it added.

AirAsia Philippines is launching on March 27 a thrice-daily Davao-Manila service and four flights a week between Cebu and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

In launching the Pass in other markets late last year, Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd, said the airline, “being a true ASEAN airline, (is) serving all 10 ASEAN member countries.”

“With the dawning of the ASEAN economic community and progress on ASEAN open skies, we are pleased to promote ASEAN integration by helping to bridge ASEAN communities,” Mr. Fernandes added.

He said the company, which takes the ASEAN Single Aviation Market “seriously,” is confident that the “introduction of this ASEAN Pass will boost air travel… as well as attract foreign tourists to this region.”

He said since air travel is the most convenient form of transportation, he believes that the introduction of the Pass “will be the catalyst for a new chapter of air travel with AirAsia.”

Source: Carmelito Q. Francisco