A MERGER with sister airline Philippines AirAsia is “not on the table” for AirAsia Zest (AAZ), which is strengthening its position at new hub Cebu in the hope that its rebranding will turn the tide of recent misfortunes.
Dismissing the idea, the airline’s incoming executive vice president and COO, Joy Caneba, said: “There are other possibilities. It (would) make sense to combine them into one (airline), but it also makes sense that one might focus on shorthaul, one might focus on longhaul…but that’s something that hasn’t been formally decided.”
AAZ will roll out four services from Cebu, beginning with daily flights to Davao and Cagayan de Oro, and a four-times-weekly flight to Puerto Princesa from November 15, as well as a daily Kuala Lumpur connection on December 1.
“We’re currently the number three player (in Cebu) and we want to up the game,” said Caneba, who cited the importance of China and South Korea as reasons for picking Cebu as its next hub. “We will continue operating a hybrid schedule of chartered and scheduled flights.”
She said AAZ has no plans to fly out of Clark, but did not rule it out for the future. AAZ aims to grow business by 15 to 20 per cent by end-2013 and at a higher rate in 2014.
Caneba also shared that the rebranding from Zest Air had been fast-tracked “despite and because of” the losses the carrier had sustained recently during the surprise four-day suspension imposed by national aviation authorities in August (TTG Asia e-Daily, August 19, 2013).
Meanwhile, AirAsia is on an expansion warpath in Thailand, with Thai AirAsia yesterday announcing it would launch daily Singapore-Krabi flights and increase Bangkok-Krabi frequencies to eight times daily on November 25 as well as kick off a Krabi-Chiang Mai service on December 15.
AirAsia X also secured official approval from Thailand’s Ministry of Transport for an air operator licence, bringing it one step closer to setting up its first international hub outside Kuala Lumpur by 1Q2014 (TTG Asia e-Daily, February 22, 2013).
Thai AirAsia X will be based in Don Mueang Airport and receive feeder traffic from Thai AirAsia, besides focusing on routes to North Asia and Australia.