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16
Jan

AirAsia PH aims for regional takeoff with flights to Vietnam, Indonesia

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By Miguel R. Camus | Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippines Air Asia is seeking government clearance to fly to Vietnam and Indonesia, signaling its intention to beef up regional operations and become a more prominent airline player.

The carrier, a unit of Malaysian budget airline giant Air Asia Berhad, revealed those plans via filings to the Philippines’ Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

Philippines Air Asia said it was seeking 2,520 seats for Manila to Jakarta, Indonesia. It made a separate filing for 2,520 seats to Ho Chi Minh Airport in Vietnam.

The CAB said hearings on those applications would be held on Jan. 22, 2017.

The filings indicate that Philippines Air Asia, which has 15 Airbus A320s, is again pursuing expansion this 2017, a period when it aims to also book its first full-year of profitability.

Air Asia Bhd Group CEO Tony Fernandes told Filipino reporters last December he remained bullish on the airline’s prospects in the Philippines.

He said Philippines Air Asia would also accelerate plans to hold an initial public offering in the country this year, which was originally eyed for 2018. He said this would raise at least $200 million.

Fernandes said Philippines Air Asia’s IPO would allow the carrier to support its expansion plans. The unit, thus far, still relies on the financial backing of Air Asia Bhd.

The carrier now corners about a 10 percent market share here, and competes against larger players Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air.