As we have announced Palawan’s infrastructure development is entering the phase of reality and AirAsia is the first carrier to establishing its hub in Puerto Princesa.
AirAsia is establishing its fourth hub in Puerto Princesa, Palawan next year to haul in more tourists and business passengers to this destination from Korea, China and the rest of its broad Asian network, President and CEO Dexter M. Comendador told reporters.
“We’re just waiting for the (Palawan) airport to be finished,” he added.
The airline already has a hub in Manila, in Kalibo, Aklan and lately, in Cebu.
“We have been moving out of Manila because there’s no more space. The government can only free up around ten percent capacity. It’s hard to find slots at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and also because of traffic problems.”
Plans to improve the capacity of Manila airports – such as reclaiming land and relocating it into other areas within the metropolis, will simply take too long, anywhere from ten to 15 years, the CEO pointed out.
Philippines AirAsia has positioned itself to operate from Clark because the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) itself should have moved to Clark between 2005 to 2015 until plans went awry.
The pre-conditions to the move, such as the development of the North Luzon Expressway and four main arteries, materialized, but the third factor, the rail transit, did not. “Something went wrong, now the government tells us to develop Clark.”
For Cebu, its third hub, Philippines AirAsia is deploying two aircraft. Its Kalibo hub has three planes and its Manila hub has nine. The airline has a fleet of 14 and is planning to acquire newer planes.
In terms of financial performance, the airline expects to break even this year, with a passenger load factor of 70 to 80 percent. “By 2018, or earlier, we plan to do an Initial Public Offering (IPO),” Comendador announced.
Airport terminal of the soon to open Pueto Princesa Aiport. November 2016.
So far, the airline has hurdled its two biggest problems – its change of brand and compliance with the obligations of the old company, which absorbed Zest Air.
“It’s very difficult to create a new airline and merge two different corporate cultures,” he explained. “Our expansion was sudden. The majority of our pilots were from Zest Air and it was not easy to bring them into the entirely different culture of AirAsia.”
However, Philippines AirAsia managed to accomplish in three years what would have normally taken half a decade to do.
Interior in its final stage. Inside the new Puerto Princesa Airport, November 2016.