Low-cost carrier AirAsia Philippines expects the delivery next year of five A321s and five A330s Airbus aircraft apart from 20 leased planes to support its growth projection.
Photo Insert: AirAsia is currently operating 18 aircraft, just four away from this year’s target.
“We are lucky that we have an order book of over 400 planes. The order book starts next year with the delivery of five A321s,” said Anthony Francis Fernandes, chief executive officer of Capital A Berhad, the holding firm for the travel and lifestyle group.
“In between, we are taking from the leasing market both new planes and old planes. We just signed about 20 more aircraft. It’ll be a mixture of taking what are the available Airbuses,” he said.
AirAsia Communications and Public Affairs Country Head, Steve F. Dailisan, said the airline is also looking at the delivery next year of bigger planes, which will be five A330s.
The airline announced in February its commitment to bring its fleet back to the pre-pandemic level, which is 24 aircraft. It is currently operating 18 aircraft, just four away from this year’s target, Dailisan said.
“I’m invigorated and energized to put in more investment in the Philippines, not just in the airline but now we have our Superapp and aircraft service business. We are very committed to the Philippines,” Fernandes said.
“It is our smallest market but I think it really should be one of our biggest markets as it sits on the doorsteps of North Asia,” he added. Aside from fleet expansion, Fernandes is focusing on processing the airline’s refund to customers. “We are hoping to sort that out by October or November,” he said.
This year, the airline aims to refund the remaining 21% or P9.07 million of its refunds. Data from AirAsia show that it has completed 79% or P34.76 million of its total P43.83 million refunds.
The airline is also looking at improving its products and adding more destinations. “We want to bring in Face ID here, we’re gonna have WiFi on the plane and we will add new destinations on top of what we are doing with our Superapp,” Fernandes said.
Through Superapp, AirAsia customers can fly via other airlines, avail of ride-hailing services, and book travel packages. Meanwhile, Fernandes said a quicker way to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is to build better road infrastructure for other airports.
“I call the government to look at building a train and better bus services to Clark [International Airport],” he said, adding: airport operations and management should be under a mix of government and private entities.
Recently, the Department of Transportation and the Manila International Airport Authority submitted a joint proposal to upgrade NAIA under a solicited public-private partnership. Under the proposal, the private concessionaire will have 15 years to operate the airport and recover its investment.