MALAYSIA-BASED AirAsia Group Berhad said the domestic market share of its Philippine unit had increased by 4 percentage points to 22% in the first quarter despite the pandemic.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters late Monday, AirAsia Group President Bo Lingam said the airline group’s market position “remained strong” in the first quarter of the year “despite the challenges faced.”

“We are pleased to see domestic market share gain in three of our Air Operator Certificates (AOC)s, the highest being AirAsia Philippines which was up 4 percentage points” to 22%, he added.

He said Malaysia remains the strongest domestic market at 61% market share.

The revenue per available seat-kilometer (RASK) of AirAsia Malaysia also grew 2%, Mr. Lingam noted, attributing it to the airline’s improved pricing strategy.

“AirAsia Indonesia’s RASK increased by 3%. Though AirAsia Philippines saw a dip in passengers carried by 9%, load factor remained healthy at 84%,” he said further.

To recall, Philippines AirAsia’s market dominance grew by 4 percentage points to 23% in the last quarter of 2019. The increase was driven by a strong 21% growth in passengers carried, according to Mr. Lingam.

AirAsia restarted its operations in phases after strict lockdowns. “We are focusing domestically for now, before opening up to ASEAN and then the rest of Asia when border restrictions are lifted,” Mr. Lingam said.

For his part, AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Anthony Francis “Tony” Fernandes said they have applied for bank loans in their operating countries to shore up the group’s liquidity.

“We have also been presented with proposals to raise capital to strengthen our equity base and/or liquidity from a number of investment bankers, lenders as well as potential investors to help the company weather the storm caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” he added.

He also disclosed that AirAsia has ongoing deliberations with “a number of parties for joint-ventures and collaborations that may result in additional investments in specific segments of the group’s business.” — Arjay L. Balinbin