By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

ANGELES CITY, Pampanga—Philippines AirAsia, Inc. will be launching two new domestic routes this year to further boost domestic tourism amid the coronavirus outbreak that has dampened its revenues in the first two months of the year.

This was after the budget carrier announced recently its new flights to Zamboanga, General Santos City, and Dumaguete City via Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

In a news conference in Angeles City, Pampanga on Friday, Philippines AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Ricardo P. Isla said: “We have talked to local officials of various provinces, and they are all excited to fly via AirAsia already. We are going to fly to two additional destinations via Clark [International Airport].”

“Why Clark? Clark is really the most practical way to do domestic and international flights because it’s accessible and, more importantly, we always offer low pricing in Clark going to both domestic and international destinations. We get better incentives or rates from the airport of Clark,” he added.

Mr. Isla also said that AirAsia is working with the Tourism department to boost Pampanga’s tourism industry.

The budget carrier, he said, will also be adding flights to at least three of its existing international destinations such as Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; and Osaka, Japan.

As for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the budget carrier’s financial performance, he said: “We cannot disclose at this point our losses but it’s quite big, frankly speaking.”

“But we were prepared. We think we strengthened our position. Even last year, we saw a lot of potential in domestic tourism, and that’s a big source of our growth for this year,” he added.

Philippines AirAsia Chief Commercial Officer Gilbert O. Simpao said the airline will discontinue its Clark, Pampanga-Seoul, South Korea flights amid low passenger demand.

The Clark-Seoul route was launched in January 2018. Flights depart in Clark at 5:50 p.m. and arrive in Incheon at 10:35 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights leave Incheon at 11:25 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and arrive in Clark at 2:35 a.m. the next day.

“The Clark-Incheon flights will be removed. It isn’t doing well,” Mr. Simpao said.

The Philippine government on Wednesday barred travelers from South Korea’s coronavirus-stricken North Gyeongsang province as it tries to contain the outbreak.

The government will also prevent Filipinos from traveling to South Korea, where more than 1,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus strain. The ban also covers the Jeju Island.

About two million South Koreans visited the Philippines in 2019, flying from Seoul, Busan, Cheongju, Daegu, Gimpo, Jeju and Muan.