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AirAsia to expand fleet; Philippine passengers seen to double this year


AIRASIA Philippines will be adding 10 planes this year to its existing 14, its top official said, as he expects the expanded fleet to double the low-cost carrier’s Filipino passengers.

“The biggest job for me as chief executive officer has been to bring back planes, to make sure the schedule is the right schedule and not changing, to stop delays,” said Anthony Francis “Tony” Fernandes, chief executive officer of Capital A Berhad, the holding firm for the travel and lifestyle group.

Since the pandemic halted the aviation industry in 2020, restoring AirAsia’s 204 planes globally to full operational status has been a top priority, Mr. Fernandes told reporters. The carrier group has 50 more planes to go to achieve this goal.

“I’m now confident that we can get all the planes that we said we want to in the Philippines [this year],” he said.

AirAsia announced recently that it successfully opened its Tokyo via Narita route and resumed weekly flights to Chinese cities Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as the special administrative region of Macao.

Both Japan and China are important markets for the Philippines, Mr. Fernandes said.

“Our strength is international. We don’t think domestic is really for us because it’s well-served by Cebu Pacific and other airlines, but I’ve always said that the Philippines is the best-kept secret in the tourist world,” he continued.

Though he declined to specify what international destinations AirAsia will be adding soon, he said that tourists, cargo services, and overseas Filipino workers make up much of the movement to and from the Philippines.

Mr. Fernandes said that post-pandemic recovery is well underway, with the tourism industry driving enough growth for the full restoration of AirAsia’s flight capacity.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we feel that there is light,” he said. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

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