AirAsia Incorporated, the new Philippine-based affiliate of AirAsia Group, has chosen Clark as its home base in the country.
The airline, which announced its formation last December, will be base its operations at Clark’s Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. The airline plans to start operating international flights from the airport in the fourth quarter of this year.
“Our choice of Clark underlines the airline’s commitment to developing transportation and tourism hubs outside Manila. This is part of our plan to contribute to the development of the country as a whole. AirAsia, Inc. is excited to start contributing to the economy of Clark and the rest of the country by boosting tourism and offering job opportunities to Filipinos,” said Marianne B. Hontiveros, Chief Executive of AirAsia Inc.
Clark is located just north of Manila and is accessible to 23 million people from the National Capital Region and Central and Northern Luzon. It is also where the airline’s sister company, Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad, has been flying to from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu since 2005.
“We plan to make Clark the hub for flights to popular destinations including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Korea and Japan. Travel will become much easier and more affordable for tourists and overseas Filipino workers,” Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros, Antonio O Cojuangco Jr, and Michael L Romero own 60% of AirAsia Inc in equal partnership. The remaining 40% is owned by AirAsia Berhad.
With the announcement, Clark will become the 13th regional hub of the AirAsia Group, following Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang in Malaysia; Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand; and Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Medan and Bali in Indonesia. AirAsia Group currently operates approximately 90 Airbus A320 aircraft, while its long-haul arm, AirAsia X, has a fleet of 11 Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.
The new Philippine venture will put AirAsia in direct competition with Asia’s third largest low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacific, which also flies several international routes from Clark. Another Philippines LCC, SEAIR, also recently launched international services in partnership with Tiger Airways. With a population of more than 94 million people – almost as many as Malaysia and Thailand combined – the Philippines could potentially become a key battleground in the aviation market in years to come.
Pictured: AirAsia Group CEO, Tony Fernandes (center) and Deputy Group CEO, Kamarudin Meranun, (left) visit the President of the Philippines, HE Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III (right) in Malaca