PHILIPPINES AirAsia, Inc. is eyeing flights to the United States, as it filed an air traffic access application with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

The local unit of the Malaysia-based budget carrier has filed a petition with the aviation regulator to be designated as an official Philippine carrier to the United States, in place of Air Philippines, now known as PAL Express.

“(Philippines AirAsia) has filed with the (CAB) a petition for designation and allocation of entitlements to the United States of America under the Philippines-United States of America Air Transport Agreement and the revocation of the designation of Air Philippines (PAL Express),” a Notice of Hearing uploaded on the CAB website read.

A hearing on the application will be held on Sept. 10.

BusinessWorld sought further comment from Philippines AirAsia, but did not receive a reply as of press time.

In 2017, AirAsia Group’s long-haul unit AirAsia X Bhd launched the group’s maiden flight to US with the Kuala Lumpur-Hawaii route via Osaka, Japan.

Last year, a report cited AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Anthony Francis “Tony” Fernandes about the company’s plans for AirAsia X to connect Japan to Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2020.

In the Philippines, AirAsia is focused on expanding its fleet from 23 planes to about 30 planes in the next two years.

The upscaling of its carrying capacity, which added 18% in the second quarter, has so far resulted to a 22% increase in the volume of passengers it carried in the three-month period to 2.23 million. The growth was driven mainly by the added frequencies from Philippines AirAsia’s domestic routes.

The budget carrier also mounted new flights from the Philippines to Beijing, Osaka and Kaohsiung this year.

Philippines AirAsia posted a 12% rise in profit during the first quarter at P424.5 million, driven by its strong revenues which ended at P6.68 billion, up 27% from last year. Second-quarter results were not available.

The company is aiming to return to profit by the end of the year after recording a loss of P2.11 billion at end-2018.

In June, businessman Michael L. Romero’s F&S Holdings, Inc. increased its stake in the operator of Philippines AirAsia to become the single largest shareholder in the low-cost carrier ahead of its planned initial public offering later this year. — Denise A. Valdez