Philippines AirAsia nurtures second hub after Manila disappointment

CHALLENGED by congestion and limited slots at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) since it relocated its operations there late last year, Philippines AirAsia is developing Kalibo as its second hub.

Frequent delays in aircraft departures and arrivals burn fuel and add costs to operations at NAIA, said Maan Hontiveros, president and CEO of Philippines AirAsia. She cited the example of an AirAsia flight from Tacloban that was forced to delay landing by 15 minutes due to heavy traffic at Terminal 4.

As a result, the carrier is trying to get more flights to land at NAIA’s Terminal 3 instead of Terminal 4 where it is based.

Meanwhile, the LCC will base a number of aircraft in Kalibo, the gateway to Boracay, while increasing the number of Manila-Kalibo services from seven to 13 daily flights, and preparing it for international flights from China and South Korea.

Hontiveros said the next goal was to grow regional flights as AirAsia has consolidated and rationalised its domestic operations. “We have applied for rights to fly to Bangkok, Singapore and Japan (from Manila).”

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, said: “When you’re at the doorstep of three large economies – South Korea, Japan and China – the potential is very bright…although it is constrained by the airport…We have very exciting plans outside Manila where we think we can open up new markets.”

Fernandes added that the carrier will consider operating from Clark once construction on the road linking Makati and Clark is finished in 2016.

Separately, Philippines AirAsia is the first airline to enter the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban, where it flies to thrice daily. “AirAsia will be committing more flights to Tacloban as soon as the airport is rebuilt,” said Fernandes.

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