Low-fare airline Philippines AirAsia launched on Wednesday its daily flights from Clark International Airport to Kalibo in Aklan and Davao City in Davao province, two of the country's major tourist destinations.
The airline chose Davao City as an important gateway to Mindanao and Kalibo because of Boracay, said AirAsia CEO Maan Hontiveros.
An AirAsia plane sits at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao, the airline's maiden flight from Clark International Airport in Pampanga on Wednesday Danny Pata “The Philippines is a robust and growing market. We are here because we are confident of its growth,” Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group chair, said during the send-off ceremonies at Clark.
AirAsia started in 2001 with two aircraft serving 200,000 passengers. “Now we have 100 planes serving 3.3 million passengers,” Fernandes noted.
For the Philippines, the airline uses new 200-seater A320 aircraft.
AirAsia set up its operations center in Clark late last year to serve domestic flights in airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Hontiveros said the flights from Clark make travel more convenient and comfortable for passengers from Northern and Central Luzon. “They no longer have to suffer from the EDSA traffic and the long queues at NAIA,” she added. 'A truly ASEAN airline'
The airline serves two flights from Clark to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
“AirAsia is now a truly ASEAN airline serving the people in the region,” said Fernandes, who founded the airline in 2001.
He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region has more than 600 million people that can be a significant tourism market.
“This is a big day for me,” Fernandes added.
Also in Clark for the launch were Philippines AirAsia chair Antonio Cojuangco and Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
Apart from Philippines, AirAsia has operation centers in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Penang and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, as well as in Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand, and Jakarta, Bali, Bandung and Surabaya in Indonesia.
AirAsia is a low-cost carrier serving 132 routes. It employs more than 8,000 people and with a market capitalization of over RM7.06 billion (as at 31 Dec. 2010).
The number of domestic and international passengers that used Clark Airport reached 760,000 last year, and is expected to more than double to 1.6 million this year, according to airport authorities. —VS