LOW-COST carrier AirAsia Philippines launched thrice-weekly flights to Narita, Japan through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

“AirAsia’s mission has always been about democratizing air travel by offering bang-for-the-buck deals,” said AirAsia Philippines Communications and Public Affairs Head Steve F. Dailisan in a statement.

He said the airline is giving more convenience to travelers “by opening more gateways in the country that will allow guests to directly fly to international destinations.”

Narita is AirAsia’s fourth international destination directly flying out from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. The other three destinations are Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, and Taipei.

“AirAsia plans on expanding its operations in Cebu, making it a convenient gateway for travelers from the south,” the airline said in a press release.

At present, the airline is also flying directly to Narita in Tokyo, Japan via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport daily.

Previously, the carrier committed to increasing its flight frequencies and destinations not only at the Manila airport but also at Clark International Airport and Kalibo International Airport.

The airline said that this could be achieved as the company plans to beef up its current fleet, which is expected to comprise 21 aircraft by the end of the year.

Next year, the carrier is also looking at the delivery of bigger planes, which are the A330s and some A321s.

Meanwhile, AirAsia said it was not among the local airlines called by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to reduce flight frequencies.

Mr. Dailisan said, “[W]e have been compliant with our on-time performance and have effectively managed flight disruptions.”

“In fact, we are requesting for additional slots from the Manila Slot Committee during the winter season starting October to address the strong demand during this period,” he added.

In an interview on Tuesday, DoTr Undersecretary for Aviation and Airport Roberto C.O. Lim said discussions with the airlines pointed to reducing and spreading out flights as a temporary solution amid the flights affected by the global supply disruption of aircraft spare parts.

“There have been reductions already. I think further reductions may have to be done at least on a temporary basis so that the punctuality of service will improve and there will be less disruption to the experience of the riding public,” Mr. Lim said.

Mr. Lim also said air passengers could also expect more delays in July and Against due to red lightning alerts. He said with the onset of the rainy season, red lightning alerts “have become more unpredictable and frequent due to climate change.”

“That, too, is a challenge that we’re addressing together with the airlines,” he said. “There is a frequent discussion with the airline so that we can be responsive to these changing business conditions.” — Justine Irish D. Tabile