AirAsia Philippines expands routes despite virus woes

AirAsia Philippines expands routes despite virus woes

Low-cost carrier AirAsia Philippines looks to soar to new heights this year as it sets sights on further expanding its domestic and international network despite the prevailing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AirAsia Philippines said among its priorities this year is to grow its regional routes by exploring opportunities in the Middle East, US, and Australia.

The carrier was able to resume last month its international flights, starting with Hong Kong and Singapore after almost two years of flight suspension due to the ongoing health crisis.

Prior to the pandemic, AirAsia Philippines was flying to various international destinations from Manila such as Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok, Bali, Seoul, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Osaka, Macau, and Ho Chi Minh City.

The airline is also eyeing to expand its domestic presence to 18 this year from 14 in 2021.

AirAsia Philippines said there is strong pent-up demand for travel and Filipinos are ready to get back in the air.

“And compared to the previous two years, all stakeholders – airlines, government units and customers – are now much more conscious of the key strategies and measures needed to properly approach traveling amid the pandemic,” the airline said.

“The country is now better equipped to face any new variants and potential surges,” it said.

While the company is closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, AirAsia Philippines said it is confident that its multi-layered safety protocols, the 100 percent vaccination of its crew, the presence of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in its aircraft, and the shared culture of safety and vigilance spells optimum performance moving forward, amid the pandemic.

“AirAsia Philippines is highly optimistic that with improved synergies between the national and local governments, and the intensified vaccination program of the country, more Filipinos will be enticed to travel again,” the carrier said.

“Filipino travel behavior in 2022 will still center on safety, while also including key considerations like contactless customer touchpoints, affordability and leisure travel with tightly knit groups like visiting families and friends,” it said.

Also among the airline’s main priorities for 2022 are cash availability and cash management to support recovery strategies en route to profitability, as well as sustainable cost management and rationalization to operate commercial flights.

Last year, AirAsia Philippines gained a stronger footing versus its pre-pandemic domestic market share despite continuing challenges brought about by the new COVID-19 variants and stricter travel restrictions.

The budget carrier said it has grown its domestic market share to 19 percent last year, up 3.5 notches up from its 15.5 percent share in 2019.

It also peaked at 95 percent load factor over the course of the recent holiday period, while ending December at 88 percent, both of which are record-high figures over the past 1.5 years.

In the month of December, AirAsia Philippines said it ranked third most popular airline in terms of flight bookings among AirAsia Group territories, following Malaysia and Thailand.

“AirAsia Philippines joins the entire aviation community in hoping and planning for a stronger 2022 as it believes that domestic tourism will be one of the major pillars of economic recovery post-pandemic,” the airline said.







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