AirAsia Philippines Unveils Expansion Plan


BUDGET carrier AirAsia Philippines disclosed plans to strengthen its partnership with the AirAsia Group, after the European Union lifted a safety-related ban on European destinations two weeks ago.

“We are expanding. We will have a board meeting on July 3. We plan to interconnect with AirAsia, the long-haul unit of the AirAsia Group,” said former Philippine ambassador Alfredo Yao, who owns a 13-percent stake the AirAsia Philippines by virtue of the latter’s takeover of 49 percent of his family-owned Zest Airways Inc.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the European Union (EU) will give an update on the EU Air Safety List on June 25, he said.

“Our plan is to have one operation in the Philippines and call it AirAsia Philippines. We’ve just … secured approval from the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission]. We will now apply with CAB [Civil Aeronautics Board] and CAAP,” said Joy Cañeba, chief executive officer of AirAsia Zest. The AirAsia Zest brand was formally launched last year.

“The local governments in most of the provinces where we are operating have recognized the value of AirAsia in the Philippines and they’ve been very supportive to us,” said Cañeba, but did not give a timeline to consolidate its business in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Group and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes confirmed the Asia-based airlines’ plans to invest in AirAsia Philippines, adding: “Yes, we want to invest more. The Philippines is actually the best (area for the company). The grounding of the airline was a massive blow for us. Now, there’s some light [at the end of] the tunnel.”

The airlines will now apply for separate approvals from the CAB and the CAAP, said Fernandes.

In March 2013, AirAsia Philippines and Zest Airways signed a strategic partnership with AirAsia, Asia’s largest budget carrier, acquiring a 49-percent stake in Zest Air and 100 percent in Asiawide Airways—both under the Zest Air Group.

Zest Air is a low-cost carrier that operated from Pasay City’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The AirAsia Group has a combined fleet of 120 aircraft and 350 other planes, with operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and India, flying on 158 routes across 18 countries.

AirAsia Philippines has a load factor of 65 percent, up 6 percentage points from 59 percent recorded during the third quarter of last year, company records show.

In July 2013, the EU allowed Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume flights to Europe after a three-year ban. Cebu Pacific, another budget airline, also exited from the EU’s ban.

EU’s total lifting of bans on Philippine carriers will be announced by CAAP Director General Lt. Col. William K. Hotchkiss 3rd and Mr. Lubomir Frebort, Charges d’ Affaires, a.i., EU Delegation to the Philippines on June 25.

Source: Rosalie Periabras, Manila Times

It’s Final: Sangley Point For Philippines’ New Main Airport – JICA

Sangley Point In Cavite could be the location of a new long-term international airport to replace Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), according to a recommendation made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In a statement, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said JICA formally recommended Sangley Airport in a presentation last June 13. Abaya said JICA will now start a feasibility study that may lead to the opening of a new main gateway in Sangley Point by 2025. “The DOTC, meanwhile, will still have to present the long-term gateway options to the President for approval, including the final location of Manila’s new gateway, as well as the fate of NAIA once a new airport is built,” he added. The country is pressed to find a new main gateway as NAIA already services 30 million passengers a year – just two million shy of its 32-million capacity.

Sangley Point is a former US Navy base in southwestern Cavite province, which is just 20 minutes away from Makati City.
Apart from the former naval base, JICA was earlier looking at an island in Laguna de Bay as a possible site for the new international gateway replacing NAIA, GMA News’ “State of the Nation” reported last March.

Both locations would be costly as they entail massive reclamation to build a new airport on a 2,000 hectare land, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications.
In a separate proposal, Ramon Ang, president and COO of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., met with President Benigno Aquino III and presented a $10-billion proposal for a new gateway.
The proposed airport will be located in a 1,600-hectare property owned by Cyber Bay Corp., straddling the cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque along the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex).
Ang co-chairs Cyber Bay, a company with interests in real estate development – except real estate subdivision – and reclamation.

AirAsia Philippines Can Now Fly To Europe

The European Union has lifted the ban on Philippines’ AirAsia, allowing the local unit of Southeast Asia’s largest budget airline to fly to European countries.

“Yes, the EU lifted the ban two weeks ago,” said Alfredo Yao, a board member of AirAsia Inc., operator of Philippines’ AirAsia.

Yao confirmed the company planned to expand routes to include Europe. AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia and Filipino businessmen led by Yao own Philippines’ AirAsia.

The EU and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and European Union are set to formally announce the highlights of the updated EU air safety list soon.

“We are expanding actually. We will have a board meeting on July 3,” Yao said.

Yao said Philippines’ Air Asia was looking at interconnecting with AirAsia X, the long-haul unit of the AirAsia Group for the company’s expansion to Europe.

Currently, only Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air are out of the EU black list of airlines.

The decision comes after the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) upgraded the Philippines to Category 1 status, allowing PAL and other local carriers to add flights to and from the US.

Philippines’ AirAsia earlier  reported a net loss of P854.5 million in the first quarter of 2015, a significant improvement from P1.4-billion net loss in the first quarter of 2014.

The airline recorded revenue of P2.1 billion in the first quarter, 6 percent  lower than P2.2 billion it posted in the first quarter of 2014.

AirAsia Philippines blamed the decline in revenue to the lower passenger volumes,  which decreased 6 percent  to 843,250 from 894,733 last  year.  Load factor went up by 11 percentage points to 77 percent from 66 percent.

AirAsia Berhad group chief executive Tony Fernandes earlier said Philippines’ AirAsia might be listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2018.

The Philippine unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia secured the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission to acquire 100 percent of Zest Airways Inc.

The Senate committee on public services approved the sale of Zest Airways to AirAsia Philippines in December last year. The House committee on franchise also gave its consent in February last year.

Malaysia’s Air Asia, through AA International, owns 40 percent of Philippines’ AirAsia Inc., while Filipinos Marriane Hontiveros, Michael Romero, Antonio Cojuangco and Alfredo Yao hold the balance of 60 percent.

Source: Darwin G. Amojelar,

Cebu Pacific & Philippine Airlines Buck Fresh Air Talks Between Philippines, UAE

MANILA – Philippine carriers are bucking a government plan to review its air agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the Philippines is mulling fresh air talks with the UAE, confirming Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez’s recent statements that the air panel was preparing for discussions with its Emirates counterpart.

“We are just hearing out the oppositions from the local airlines,” Arcilla said.

Both Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific see no need for a new round of air talks, citing unused capacity.

“Given the significant increase in capacity over the past year, CEB believes that a new round of air talks with the UAE should not be held until all available Manila-UAE entitlements are fully utilized by Philippine carriers who are ready willing and capable of operating routes to UAE, including CEB,” JR Mantaring, officer-in-charge of Cebu Air Inc. said in a text message.

A PAL official said pretty much the same thing, adding that the government should guard against overcapacity in the Manila-UAE route.

The Philippine-UAE air agreement provides for a maximum of 14 weekly frequencies for the Emirates Airlines, which has been pressing for fresh air talks after it failed to secure an extension of a third flight between Manila and Dubai amid opposition from PAL and Cebu Pacific.

Philippine data show over 700,000 Filipinos are working in the UAE.


World Airline Awards 2015: 10 Best LCCs In Asia

1. Air Asia (Malaysia)

2. Air Asia X (Malaysia)

3. IndiGo (India)

4. Jetstar Asia (Singapore)

5. Scoot (Singapore)

6. Peach (Japan)

7. SpiceJet (India)

8. Tiger Airways (Singapore)

9. Nok Air (Thailand)

10. Spring Airlines (China)

Turkish Airlines and Philippine Airlines In Code Share Agreement

Turkish Airlines and Philippine Airlines have jointly announced the start of a code-sharing partnership effective as of July 1, 2015 that enables both flag carriers to tap into new markets and offer their passengers more travel options.

Turkish Airlines currently has three operations weekly on Istanbul-Manila v.v. route on which Philippine Airlines will place its marketing code while Turkish Airlines will be marketing Manila-Cebu v.v. and Manila-Davao v.v. flights operated by Philippine Airlines, at the initial stage of their cooperation. The parties intend to expand the code-share agreement when the frequencies of the operations between the two countries are increased. Such an expansion of the code-share agreement will allow passengers to benefit from better connectivity and increased travel flexibility between the Philippines and Turkey, and beyond the carriers’ respective networks.


Philippine Airlines and Turkish Airlines will work in cooperation to contribute tourism and cultural exploration, and to promote business travel between the Philippines and Turkey.

“We’re delighted to partner with one of the world’s leading carriers, Turkish Airlines. For starters, this agreement enables both partner-carriers to further boost tourism and business travel between Istanbul and Manila, and the beyond Manila routes” said Philippine Airlines president and COO Jaime J. Bautista.

“We are extremely pleased to sign this code-share agreement with Philippine Airlines and aim to improve our partnership to maximize the travel opportunities offered to our passengers through the networks of both airlines. Additionally, we believe that this partnership with Philippines Airlines will bring enormous benefit to both airlines from a commercial perspective in rapidly growing relations between our countries” said Temel KOTIL Ph.D. deputy chairman and CEO of Turkish Airlines.


August 15: Some Cebu Pacific Flights Move To NAIA-4


MANILA – Starting August 15, some flights of Cebu Pacific will be transferring to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 (NAIA-4) to maximize the airport’s runway space.

Cebu Pacific announced on Friday that flights utilizing turbo-prop or ATR aircraft (Manila to Caticlan, Busuanga, Laoag and Naga) will operate out of NAIA-4.

The following select flights will also be operating out of NAIA-4:

• 5J 337/338 Manila-Kalibo-Manila
• 5J 345/346 Manila-Kalibo-Manila
• 5J 557/556 Manila-Cebu-Manila on Wednesdays and Saturdays
• 5J 557 Manila-Cebu on August 24 only
• 5J 556 Cebu-Manila on September 10 only
• 5J 579 Manila-Cebu on October 3 only

Meanwhile, all Cebgo flights will also be operating out of NAIA Terminal 3 starting August 15.

These flights are those between Manila and Bacolod, Butuan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos, Iloilo, Kalibo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, Tacloban, and Tagbilaran.

“This is in line with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) advisory, dated May 28, 2015, to maximize runway space at NAIA. Cebu Pacific fully supports this government effort to improve air traffic conditions in Manila,” the airline said in a statement.

“The Cebu Pacific group advises its passengers of the following terminal changes for those departing from and arriving in Manila. Flight times remain the same,” it added.

For the first four months of 2015, Cebu Pacific and Cebgo flew nearly 6 million passengers, about 11 percent more than the 5.37 million it serviced in the same period last year.

The airline recently ordered 16 ATR 72-600 aircraft from European turboprop jet manufacturer ATR in a deal worth $673 million.


Skytrax: AirAsia is The Best Low Cost Airlines in Asia and the World for 2015

PARIS —AirAsia was named the World’s and Asia’s Best Low Cost Airline at the recently concluded Skytrax World’s Airline Awards rites held at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget for seventh consecutive year.

With 19 million customer surveys completed worldwide by over 160 nationalities, Skytrax is the global benchmark of airline excellence. It measures 41 key performance indicators of airlines front-line products and services. Skytrax award is one of the most prestigious airline industry accolades.

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, received the awards at the Paris Air Show.

Fernandes dedicated the award to the 17,000 AirAsia Allstars and said, “We faced many challenges this past year but I am proud to say that our staff banded together for our guests and we have emerged stronger than ever. To be named the ‘World’s Best’ for the seventh consecutive year is an incredible honor, and I dedicate it to the 17,000 AirAsia Allstars who are the force behind it all.”

“We would also like to thank our guests and stakeholders for continuing to believe in us. We are committed to continue innovating on all fronts to provide our guests with not only the best value but also a superior travel experience and convenience using technology,” Fernandes added.

Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, executive chairman of AirAsia Berhad, said Skytrax’s recognition reinforces the efforts that the Group is taking to strengthen its services and network.

“And we will take every effort to live up to this recognition,” Meranun said.

The AirAsia Group comprises short-haul low-cost airlines AirAsia Berhad (airline code AK), Indonesia AirAsia (airline code QZ), Thai AirAsia (airline code FD), Philippine AirAsia (airline codes PQ & Z2) and AirAsia India (airline code I5).

AirAsia X, the long haul affiliate of the AirAsia Group,  was also  named the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Cabin and Best Low Cost Airline Premium Seat by Skytrax for the second consecutive year.

Tan Sri Rafidah, chairman of AirAsia X Berhad, and Benyamin Ismail, acting CEO of AirAsia X Berhad, were present to receive the awards .

“We are thrilled to know that our guests have been enjoying the AirAsia X Premium Flatbed seats and we will work to further enhance our guests’ comfort and maintain our position as the best premium class cabin & seats in the low-cost airline category,” Meranun said.

Both AirAsia and AirAsia X Group have carried nearly 300 million guests since their inception in 2001 and 2007, respectively.

Source: Maila Ager,

2015 Skytrax World Airline Awards: Airline of the Year Is…

Airline of the Year:

1. Qatar Airways

2. Singapore Airlines

3. Cathay Pacific

4. Turkish Airlines

5. Emirates

6. Etihad Aiways

7. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

8. Garuda Indonesia

9. EVA Air (Taiwan)

10. Qantas

5J Orders 16 ATR 72-600 Planes

At the 2015 Paris Air Show, Cebu Pacific Air orders 16 ATR72-600 from ATR, the European Turboprop aircraft manufacturer. Image from Cebu Pacific

MANILA, Philippines – Cebu Pacific ordered at the Paris Air Show 16 ATR72-600 planes from ATR, the European Turboprop aircraft manufacturer.

The order includes options to acquire additional 10 ATR72-600, valuing the total aircraft order at $673 million, based on current list prices.

This will see Cebu Pacific double its turboprop fleet size as part of its fleet renewal program, subject to the execution of final purchase documentation, the budget carrier said Tuesday, June 16.

Cebu Pacific currently operates a fleet of 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft, which will be retired as the new aircraft enter service.

“The entry into service of the ATR 72-600 will see Cebu Pacific with new generation aircraft to meet growing demand in the Philippines for inter-island services,” the budget carrier said in a statement.

The ATR 72-600 ordered by Cebu Pacific will be equipped, for the first time, with the high density Armonia cabin, the widest cabin in the turboprop market. A technological innovation to further enhance space and comfort for passengers, the aircraft will be equipped with 78 slim-line seats and wider overhead bins with 30% more stowage space.

The ATR 72-600 has the lowest cost per seat mile in the 70 seat segment, with lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to similar class aircraft, the announcement said.

Other features of the ATR 72-600 include:

  • Passenger capacity: 68 to 78 seats
  • Engines: Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 127M
  • Maximum take-off power: 2,750 horsepower per engine
  • Maximum take-off weight: 23,000 kg
  • Maximum load: 7,500 kg
  • Maximum range when fully loaded: 900 nautical miles (1,665 km)


Cebu Pacific said the ATR 72-600 order will allow the budget carrier to expand its operations to several other airports around the country.

Cebu Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lance Y. Gokongwei said that the airline has been operating ATR aircraft since 2008, enabling them to bring safe, reliable, and affordable air transport to smaller cities and islands throughout the Philippines.

“This order is an affirmation of our commitment to extend the convenience of affordable air travel to even more communities. We are very pleased to be the launch customer of this new configuration of the ATR 72-600, as this will allow us to offer our customers more seats at even lower fares,” Gokongwei said.

ATR CEO Patrick de Castelbajac said the firm is happy to continue its partnership with Cebu Pacific.

“Cebu Pacific will also be able to benefit from the vast support network for ATR operators in Asia. When their first ATR 72-600 arrives, there will be 5 ATR pilot training centers in the region,” De Castelbajac said.

About 330 ATRs, including more than 100 ATR 72-600s, are currently operated by 55 airlines in the Asia-Pacific.