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01
Feb

AirAsia PH posts 11% jump in passenger load last year

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By Miguel R. Camus | Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippines AirAsia almost breached the four million passenger mark in 2016 as it opened more international routes.

The budget airline, a unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad, carried 3.99 million passengers last year for a year-on-year gain of 11 percent.

The data, included in AirAsia Bhd.’s fourth-quarter 2016 operating statistics, signaled that Philippines AirAsia was making good on plans to expand its presence in the Philippines.

AirAsia’s domestic unit, which had 14 Airbus A320s at the end of last year, increased its capacity by 3 percent to 4.6 million seats. Coupled with higher demand, seat load factor—a measure of flight utilization—increased 6 percentage points to an average of 87 percent for 2016.

Gains were noticeably sharper in the fourth quarter of 2016, a traditionally strong period for air travel given the Christmas holidays.

From October to December 2016, Philippines AirAsia carried 1.04 million passengers for a year-on-year gain of 19 percent. Seat load factor hit 85 percent, up four percentage points as capacity rose 13 percent to 1.22 million seats.

According to AirAsia, the domestic unit started the following new routes last year: Manila to Taipei, Cebu to Taipei, Cebu to Singapore and Cebu to Kuala Lumpur.

“In addition, flight frequency was increased on the Manila-to-Kuala Lumpur route,” it added.

Philippines AirAsia mainly relies on financial support from its parent firm. But that could soon change should the unit pursue an initial public offering.

AirAsia Bhd group CEO Tony Fernandes told reporters last December that Philippines AirAsia could raise $200 million or more by tapping the local equity market. The planned IPO, originally targeted for 2018, could be held this year, Fernandes said. Funds could be used for possible fleet expansion, he noted.

AirAsia Bhd. is the region’s biggest budget airline with a fleet of more than 200 Airbus aircraft. It has further orders for 300 A320neos and 100 A321neos. Also on order are longer range A330neos and next-generation A350s.

Apart from the Philippines, the Malaysian carrier has affiliates in Japan, Thailand, India and Indonesia.