And the Philippines’ Largest Domestic Carrier Is…

From January to September 2015 period:


  1. Cebu Pacific, 8.37 million passengers (50.94%)
  2. PAL Express, 3.60 million passengers
  3. AirAsia Zest, 1.61 million passengers
  4. Cebgo, 1.38 million passengers
  5. Philippine Airlines, 1.18 million passengers
  6. Air Asia, 272,755 passengers
Image Source:


  1. Cebu Pacific, 82.51 million kilograms
  2. PAL Express, 51.63 million kilograms
  3. Philippine Airlines, 34.51 million kilograms
  4. Cebgo, 15.78 million kgs
  5. AirAsia Zest, 10.72 million kgs
  6. AirAsia, 1.24 million kgs


AirAsia Consolidates Philippines Operations


AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int’l) is on track to consolidate its two Filipino operations – AirAsia Philippines (PQ, Manila) and AirAsia Zest (Z2, Manila) – into one single, unified entity. Having secured the go-ahead from the Filipino senate earlier in the year, Philippines AirAsia CEO Joy Caneba told CAPA that final approval to merge the brands was recently secured with the AirAsia Zest brand to be phased out in due course.

In February, AirAsia Philippines moved to acquire a majority 51% shareholding in Zest Airways, Inc. t/a AirAsia Zest. Under the deal, Zest Airways Inc.’s majority shareholder Alfredo Yao took a 15% stake in AirAsia Philippines in addition to cash, while AirAsia Philippines’ existing Filipino shareholders – Antonio Cojuangco, Michael Romero, and Marianne Hontiveros – each received a 15% stake in the carrier. The remaining 40% is owned by parent company, AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia.

Regulatory requirements complete, AirAsia Zest will rebrand and operate as AirAsia Philippines thereby unifying the AirAsia brand in the Philippines, Caneba added.

In terms of operations, the new consolidated carrier will sell off its older A320-200s as well as those powered by V2500s that were inherited from Zest. With each of the carrier’s shareholders injecting a total of USD50 million in fresh capital, the Filipino LCC intends to resume fleet growth in 2016 adding three additional A320-200s each year.

In terms of networking plans, the airline will focus on developing its Chinese market operations where growth has been particularly strong. Future bases will likely focus on secondary cities and may include Puerto Princesa which the LCC intends to connect with destinations in China as well as Malaysia once airport facilities permit.


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)

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

10 Most Popular International Airlines On Twitter

The ten most popular international airlines on Twitter are as follows:

  1. AirAsia (@AirAsia and @AirAsiaBlog and @askairasia)
  2. Philippine (@flyPAL)
  3. Cebu Pacific (@CebuPacificAir)
  4. TAM (@TAMAirlines)
  5. KLM (@KLM)
  6. Aeromexico (@AeroMexico_com)
  7. Volaris (@viajaVolaris)
  8. Turkish Airlines (@TurkishAirlines)
  9. British Airways N.A. (@BritishAirways)
  10. VivaAerobus (@VivaAerobus)

Air_Asia-logoAirAsia is the most followed international airline with 724,622 followers. This factors in the followers of the its three accounts for announcements, customer service, and its blog; the last of which hasn’t been active since 2010. AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes is also an avid tweeter sharing multiple messages a day on anything from meetings with Airbus to his dog Jack.

On its own, AirAsia’s official Twitter profile still has more followers (594,623) than those that come immediately after it including Philippine Airlines (446,305) and Cebu Pacific Air (439,408).


We were impressed to find that all of the airlines in the top ten had more than 230,000 followers. British Airways and VivaAerobus are at the bottom of the list with 265,536 and 233,9333 followers, respectively.

Where they’re from

Out of the the ten airlines with the strongest presence on Twitter four are based in Asia, two of which are from the Philippines. British Airways and KLM are the only European airlines to make the list, TAM is the sole South American, and three are Mexican carriers.

To see statistics on the top ten U.S. airlines, see here.

It’s interesting to note that not one of the booming Gulf carriers makes the top ten. Qatar Airways has the most of that group with 57,511 and Etihad Airways brings in the rear with just 14,486 followers.

Global Airlines Twitter Followers


Tweeting from almost opposite sides of the globe, TAM and AirAsia are the most engaged international airlines. In an average two-week period, approximately 97 percent of their tweets were replies to customers’ comments and questions.

TAM tweets an average of 182 times a day, which is more than double AirAsia’s 83 daily tweets. Both airlines appear meek in comparison to KLM’s 345 daily tweets. In a two-week period, about 93 percent of its 4,830 tweets are replies.

Sentiment of Data

A representative of TAM estimates that 50 percent of all incoming tweets are neutral, 35 percent are negative, and 15 percent are positive. The Brazilian airlines’ customer relationship department monitored the account from 2010 until 2012, at which point it created a six-person team to handle the account full time.

“Our focus on social networks is increasing and, at the same time, we are getting closer to our customers. The informality of these channels makes the dialogue much more personal, allowing us to monitor sensitive issues and to interact with people giving them the information they really want within minutes,” says a TAM representative.

Global Airlines Reply Tweets

Tweet patterns

These airlines are tweeting anywhere from 350 times to just once a day.

The airlines with highest daily tweet rate are also amongst the most engaged, but there are exceptions to the rule. Aeromexico tweets an average of 89 times in a two-week period, or 7 measly tweets a day, but 74 percent of those tweets are replies.

Tweets v Engagement

Aeromexico’s engagement is far superior to the airline with the most similar sharing rate,  VivaAerobus. VivaAerobus tweets an average of 8 times a day, but only 13 percent of its tweets in a two-week period are replies.

Turkish Airlines comes in last in terms of daily tweet rate and response rate. The airline has put some major dollars behind its advertising campaigns in recent months, including the viral ad featuring Kobe Bryant and Messi, yet still rarely tweets more than once a day and never in response to a follower. A quick look at its Twitter feed reveals that the platform is used solely to share announcements and contests, not as a customer service tool.

Source: Samantha Shankman, Skift

AirAsia Seeks More Asean Building Work

2014429094328If a company could ever symbolise the development of the Asean bloc as it prepares for economic integration in 2015, AirAsia might stake a large claim.

Tony Fernandes’ low-cost Malaysia-based airline not only connects much of the region but has also been instrumental in lobbying governments for better coordination between states.

Perhaps more importantly, AirAsia, Asean’s biggest low-cost carrier, is on the frontline in a battle that has stymied the region for years: namely the parlous state of infrastructure.

“The problem is infrastructure,” Raman Narayanan, AirAsia group head, Asean affairs and government relations, told FinanceAsia. “Every airport in Asean is bursting at the seams. It is becoming a very big issue.”

Southeast Asia’s international air travel market grew by 20% from about 4.7 million weekly seats in April 2012 to 5.6 million weekly seats in October 2013, according to CAPA and Innovata data.

Airports under development in Asean are failing to keep pace with this growing number of air travellers. Indonesia and the Philippines in particular trail neighbouring countries in terms of the pace of development.

According to airline magazine New Airport Insider, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta, the main airport in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy by GDP, handled 60.1 million passengers in 2013. The airport is designed to handle 22 million passengers.

Plans are under way to boost the capacity to 62 million but this won’t be complete until 2017 at the earliest, according to the magazine. And it’s a similar story at airports across the country and region.

The Philippines’ four major airports, meanwhile, could barely cope with 7.7 million tourists in 2014 but that number is expected to surpass 10 million by 2016. Plans have been lodged with the government for a new airport in Manila to help ease the strain but these are at a very early stage.

Upgrading existing national airports is expensive and takes years to complete. AirAsia argues it is therefore not the best solution for the Asean bloc.

“In almost all of Asean — and elsewhere too for that matter — airports are monopolies, either public monopolies or private ones,” Narayanan said. “We have recommended that governments allow competition among airports, much like liberalisation has boosted competition among airlines and lowered fares for consumers.”

AirAsia is lobbying governments to follow Malaysia and Thailand, which have airports that handle legacy carriers and also airports that cater solely to low-cost carriers.

In addition to being cheaper to build, low-cost carrier airports’ operating costs are less than legacy counterparts, according to AirAsia. This trickles down to the airlines and keeps fees, taxes and charges to the airlines down.

“We are constantly emphasising the need for low-cost airports to all governments in the region,” Narayanan said. “Clearly, Thailand and Malaysia have heeded our requests. Others are still mulling it over.”

“Both [prestige and low-cost airports] have very different business models. If you want to build a national airport for legacy purposes, that’s fine, go ahead. But first [governments] should focus on building low-cost carrier terminals for low-cost carriers that can support a lot of planes. The money comes in volume [of planes], not from more people flying,” he added.

The issue is important because some 60% of Southeast Asia air travel is on low-cost carriers, according to CAPA, the airline research group, a number that’s expected to grow.

“Low-cost airlines just need a simple airport. We don’t need marble floors, we don’t need bridges. We don’t need a Taj Mahal,” Narayanan said.

If governments build more low-cost carrier airports that boost competition among airport operators, this will lower costs for airlines and consumers, he argued.

This is important considering the traditionally punishing effects of fuel prices, which get passed on to passengers and which have – up to recently at least – been high.

It is also timely as the Asean bloc develops, and its population becomes more wealthy and has more disposable income to play with.

“The very nature of our business — making air travel affordable and accessible by serving the underserved — helps integrate the region,”  Narayanan said.

Formed nearly a half century ago, Asean is now an economic powerhouse, attracting investment from around the world, and would be the world’s seventh largest economy as a combined entity.

Asean has experienced average annual growth rates of 5.1% between 2000 and 2013, behind only China and India. More than 600 million people live in Asean; a population that is becoming increasingly wealthy.

AirAsia growth

AirAsia itself is testament to this growth.

The airline started in 2002 with one route – between Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi – two planes and a staff of 250. Now Asean’s largest low-cost carrier has more than 88 destinations and carries more than 220 million people annually. More than half of its destinations are in Southeast Asia.

AirAsia began with the premise that the no-frills, hassle-free, low-fare business model was the way forward. The business model proved prescient. Now over 50% of intra-Asean air travel is on low-cost carriers, a number that is forecast to increase.

“I went out there and built an Asean airline by putting airlines in four countries. I found ways of doing it. I didn’t wait for the Asean community,” AirAsia’s founder Tony Fernandes told consultants McKinsey recently.

Ultimately, though, Asean governments have to be negotiated with if growth is to be maintained, and Narayanan contends the airline is constantly negotiating, especially as the industry is heavily regulated.

“We need the nod from governments for much of what we do,” he said.

At the moment, flights are restricted by government-to-government deals. It is not possible for an airline to fly to a country without that government’s permission. All of this will go out the window under the impending Open Skies initiative. “Anybody can fly to any country,” he said. “The access to the routes will be fantastic.”

AirAsia is heavily involved in pushing Open Skies, which promises to enhance air connectivity among Asean, bring down trade barriers, improve labour and good flow and boost tourism. It formally comes into effect in 2015 but it’s not that simple.

“All indications are that it not will be fully implemented in 2015. It will happen in stages,” noted Narayanan. “It took Europe 30 years, so it’s going to take a while [in Asean].”

AirAsia plans to ramp up the frequency of existing routes and add new destinations to its already extensive network to connect Asean to North Asia and India in the next few years.

Ultimately though, increasing the routes is not the problem that airlines, governments and airport operators face. Once Asean’s economic integration is up and running, politics should be less of an excuse for any lack of further development.

All that will remain is the quality and quantity of the bricks and mortar.

Source: Suzy Waite, FinanceAsia

Cebu Pacific Seeks More UAE Flights



MANILA, Philippines – Gokongwei-led budget carrier Cebu Pacific is seeking more flight entitlements to the United Arab Emirates.

Cebu Pacific filed a petition before the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) seeking the reallocation of two unused weekly frequencies, which were previously allocated to Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL).

“Notice is hereby given that Cebu Pacific has filed with the CAB an application for reallocation of additional entitlements to UAE two unused weekly frequencies previously allocated to PAL in accordance to the existing Confidential Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of the Philippines and UAE in September 2012,” CAB said in a notice.

Cebu Pacific currently flies to Dubai, but it is looking to expand its long-haul operations. It will start flying to Kuwait on September 2 and Sydney, Australia on September 9.

Meanwhile, AirAsia said it will increase the number of flights between Kalibo and Kuala Lumpur to seven times a week starting October 23. AirAsia currently flies between Kalibo-KL four times a week.

“With this additional frequency, guests who are travelling on this route can connect to both Kuala Lumpur and Kalibo on a daily basis, and this will enable them to further take advantage of our vast route network, especially via Kuala Lumpur. Kalibo is a great gateway to Boracay, and we are proud to be the airline that offers the best connectivity to this paradise island from Malaysia with our daily flights,” Spencer Lee, AirAsia Berhad’s Head of Commercial, said.

AirAsia currently has twice daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Manila, and three times a week flights from Kuala Lumpur to Cebu. It also has daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Manila.



Solaire Resort and Casino Unveils Its New Plane Livery


Solaire Resort and Casino, the Philippines’ premier integrated resort, unveils a breakthrough branding project in the Philippines in partnership with Air Asia.

Solaire again raises the bar as it wraps its brightly colored livery on Air Asia’s Airbus A320, which is scheduled to embark on its maiden flight this July. Solaire is the first consumer brand in the country to fully wrap and brand a commercial airline, with an underlying thrust of further promoting tourism in the Philippines and in greater Asia.

This dynamic collaboration between Solaire and Air Asia represents another step forward in an on-going journey towards providing modern travel and leisure experiences for its customers, with a fresh new approach to their target market. This partnership will facilitate more passenger and cargo traffic in both regional and domestic flights, and foster stronger trade, cultural and tourism ties within Asia.

“This milestone is a key undertaking between two passionate brands with entrepreneurial and dynamic mindsets. This unprecedented branding project in the Philippines may be taken as a ‘leadership statement’ which attests to Solaire’s strong growth momentum in the industry. Yes we are again raising the bar; this time we’re taking it to the skies,” said Solaire Resort and Casino board director Donato Almeda.

Currently, Solaire’s brand colors are donned by just one airplane, but nothing is stopping them from further rolling out this innovative wrap on additional aircraft in the future with broader partnership arrangements. The campaign will continue until 2016 and it is envisioned that this high-impact ad in the sky will generate more hype and publicity as the partnership progresses.

“This aircraft branding campaign is a strategic branding initiative which would allow us to literally take our brand to greater heights,” said Solaire vice president of Brand & Marketing Jasper Evangelista. “We have created amazing moments for our customers since Solaire launched last year, and now we’re aiming to further connect with our local and foreign guests and travelers by reinforcing our brand presence in the country’s airports. Sky Solaire will enable us to get immediate traction on this effort and even take it to a level all its own.”


In line with Solaire’s “Create Your Moments” campaign, which highlights Solaire as the perfect place to create unforgettable memories, this fitting partnership with AirAsia, one of Asia’s leading and multi-awarded airlines in their category, harmoniously evokes the key thrusts of customer service, hospitality, and excitement for both their industries. This marketing initiative is also primed to open up new revenue streams for both the integrated resort and the airline carrier.

“AirAsia Philippines is a sociable and innovative brand,” AirAsia Philippines chairman Maan Hontiveros said. “We also take pride in our collaborative nature. This new livery demonstrates our creative approach to partnerships and marketing opportunities especially with companies that support our vision to grow tourism. We are thrilled to carry Solaire’s brand in the sky and on the ground at the airports here and abroad, extending to as far as our destinations in Malaysia, China and Korea.”

The Solaire experience is stamped with an unparalleled brand of service style, world-renowned Philippine hospitality, top-of-class luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options and impressive gaming facilities, which have all contributed to the way people view resort casinos in Manila. Many have opted to extend their stay at the resort, to have simply grown to embrace the aspirational and stress-free lifestyle offered to them at Solaire. Solaire Resort and Casino clearly offers the utmost experience of comfort, elegance and luxury in the Philippines right now.

Press Release from Solaire Resort and Casino

AirAsia CEO Eyes More Investments In Philippines


MANILA – AirAsia Bhd, Southeast Asia’s biggest budget airline, aims to increase its load factor to 85 percent in two years, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Following years of expansion and franchising, the airline is rationalising its fleet through aircraft sales after a slowdown in Indonesia and delays in its entry into India.

“My goal would be to try to move to 85 percent” from the current 81 percent seat-load factor,” Tony Fernandes told Reuters in an interview at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Manila. Load factor refers to a measure of plane occupancy.

“These next two years, we have the ability to enter up to 85 percent,” he said, adding the airline sees growth opportunities in the Philippine, Indian and Japanese markets.

Fernandes also said AirAsia will likely start servicing India in the third quarter after winning an operating permit from a Delhi court this month.


AirAsia plans to sell 12 planes this year, a move that will bring in around 500 million ringgit ($156 million) in net profit.

“Our planes are well sought for,” he said, citing demand from airlines outside Asia. “Right now, as of today, we’ve got the right number of planes. We’re not selling more.”

On Tuesday, AirAsia reported its first-quarter net income rose 33 percent to 139.7 million ringgit ($43.47 million) on improved passenger numbers, foreign exchange gains and deferred taxes.

Fernandes said the airline remains “moderately positive” it will book “strong” earnings growth in the second half of the year and into 2015. AirAsia saw profit slump by 55 percent last financial year amid volatile currency moves and stiff competition.

The airline’s Philippine and Indonesian units are seen turning around from losses in the second half as they rationalize routes and cut costs, he added.

AirAsia is also looking at raising investments in its Philippine unit from an initial $100 million once it gets congressional clearance for acquiring nearly full control of its local partner, said Fernandes.

“We’re ready to invest. We’re ready to build,” he said.

Fernandes said AirAsia wants to add more planes to its current fleet of 16 and mount more routes to boost its presence in the Philippine market, which saw unprecedented consolidation including Cebu Air Inc’s acquisition of Tiger Airway Holdings Ltd’s Manila unit.

AirAsia shares were up 4.49 percent on Thursday, outperforming Kuala Lumpur’s main index which closed 0.11 percent lower