AirAsia to expand its PH fleet

Published July 13, 2022, 12:40 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

AirAsia Philippines will have a total of 24 operating aircraft in its fleet by end of 2022 to cater to surging travel demand, according to CEO Ricky Isla.

The budget carrier also intends to procure bigger, more efficient and environment-friendly aircraft.

At present, AirAsia Philippines operates 10 planes, with a couple more to be added this July.

The airline plans to service the Australia route to cater to the needs of overseas Filipinos in the continent.

At the same time, it is doing market visits to other international destinations, such as the Middle East.

Last month, AirAsia Philippines resumed its Manila to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysis service.

Reopening this important border, not only for Filipino traders and travelers but also for Malaysians, also opens the opportunity for tourism for the two sides to prosper, Isla pointed out.

In addition, the airline plans to include Sandakan in its Sabah network.

Significantly, travel demand has improved a lot, according to the CEO.

“We see a lot of improvements such that 30 to 60 or even 90 days ahead, they are already booking their flights, which we never saw towards the fourth quarter of 2021. But starting March and April, there were a lot of forward bookings,” he explained.

In fact, half of the daily flight ticket purchases were forward bookings.

Overall, AirAsia Philippines targets to restore 60 percent of their international network capacity by the last quarter of 2022 and gain 100 percent by the second quarter of 2023.

Despite rising aviation fuel costs and corresponding fuel surcharges, revenge travel and seat sale promos continue to drive demand.

The budget carrier imposes a Level 11 fuel surcharge, collecting an additional P355 to P1,038 per passenger for domestic flights and P1,172.07 to P8,714.84 for international flights.

To allow airlines to recover their fuel cost, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) allows them to slap on fuel surcharges on top of the base fare -the actual amount paid by passengers for their seats.