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AirAsia to develop hubs in Clark, Bohol, Puerto Princesa

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PHILSTAR

PHILIPPINES AirAsia, Inc. said it plans to develop more hubs apart from Manila, Kalibo and Cebu, its chief executive officer (CEO) told reporters on the sidelines of a Government Fares Agreement signing ceremony.

“We’re looking forward to opening Clark as the low-cost carrier hub in the Philippines for AirAsia. And then we are opening up [in] Panglao, Bohol when it opens. And Puerto Princesa and Davao,” AirAsia President and CEO Dexter M. Comendador said.

He said that the company wants to develop hubs in these areas because of the lack of space in Manila. After starting its operations in Clark in 2012, it moved its hub to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) the following year. NAIA is also a hub for Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

The pilot-CEO added, the company hopes to grow to 70 aircraft in the next 10 years. “So we have to distribute the planes to the countryside. It will spur development then,” Mr. Comendador said.

He also said the AirAsia group is looking to grow its fleet to 600 planes over the same period, from the current 200.

The low-cost carrier will also be expanding its destinations this year. It is set to increase the frequency of services to China, including Cebu-Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangzhou within the month, and is seeking to launch direct flights from Manila to Osaka by the third quarter of 2018.

The company said the domestic outlook is positive despite the six-month closure of Boracay, adding that tourism overall will remain strong.

“We’re trying to share each other’s tourists in the AirAsia group to bring them in here. Boracay is just a glitch. There’s Panglao, there’s Puerto Princesa, there’s Davao, there’s Cebu. There are other places,” Mr. Comendador said.

He noted that the closure of Boracay is an opportunity to present to tourists other destinations in the Philippines. — Denise A. Valdez