Budget carrier AirAsia Philippines on Wednesday expressed optimism that its domestic operations will reach pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels within the first half of 2022, banking on the government’s vaccination drive.
“For domestic frequency, aligned again to the path of herd immunity, we hope to at least achieve a 100 percent by April or May before the elections,” AirAsia Philippines chief financial officer Rey Berja told reporters at a virtual press conference.
Berja said that currently, AirAsia Philippines’ domestic flights frequency are at around 10 percent to 15 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels.
As part of efforts to increase flight frequency, AirAsia will be launching flights from Manila going to Dumaguete City and Roxas City come first quarter 2022, he said.
The carrier is also planning to increase flights to Cebu, Boracay, Tagbilaran, and other major domestic routes by December this year.
Berja added that AirAsia Philippines is planning to open its hub in Clark in February next year.
“That would cater to Clark-Cebu, Clark-Davao, Boracay,” he said.
AirAsia Philippines is also eyeing to open its Cebu hub beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
For international flights, the low-cost airline is projecting to hit pre-pandemic levels by “early 2023 or later part of 2022.”
“But that one is very tough because that involves the restrictions of other countries and that will be out of our control,” Berja said.
He said AirAsia Philippines will be opening flights going to and from Taiwan and Singapore in December.
“What is helping us afloat financially and also in terms of performance, as a matter of fact. We have been monitoring AirAsia’s number of flights internationally, charter passengers,” AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla said.
“We are, if not one of the highest, the highest local airline company that actually mounted chartered passenger flights,” Isla said.
The AirAsia Philippines chief said the airline not only flies to Asean countries but also to China.
“In the past two to three months, we’ve been helping aggressively on the repatriation efforts [from] India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan,” Isla said.