"Now everyone can fly." One giant leap for Philippine aviation industry is the arrival of AirAsia Philippines and its first aircraft, a brand new state of the art Airbus A320, which landed at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga last August 15, 2011. The aircraft was commanded by Captain Johansen Hernandez and carried 29 people included AirAsia Philippines' CEO Marianne Hontiveros, Filipino media and an all-Filipino crew among others.
"This is a proud moment for Aiasia Philippines as the arrival of the new aircraft signifies our first step in introducing ourselves to the nation. As an archepelagic country, air travel is necessary for Filipinos and we are here to serve and help them stay or be better connected with their families and friends," said Hontiveros.
The arrival of AirAsia Philippines, and choosing Clark as its hub, is a product of open skies and air liberalization, which aims to decongest Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and attract and bring in more carriers, at the same time tourists and balikbayans, to the Philippines. This move forces competition which will bring about lowering of prices to fly to and from the Philippines to the rest of the world.
Hontiveros exclaimed, "The Philippines has great potential in tourism, as our country has so much to offer. With AirAsia Philippines we hope to increase the number of tourist arrivals. This is good for the community in Clark as well as Northern and Central Luzon as they can benefit in various areas including hospitality, retails and entertainment."
The aircraft, which came straight from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, is the first among four aircraft that will be delivered to AirAsia Philippines in its first year of operation. While it taxied on the runway upon arrival, it was greeted with a water cannon salute. The second one is slated to arrive later this year and the other two will be delivered in 2012.
Among those on the ground to witness the special event were Department of Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Clark International Airport Corporation president and CEO Victore Jose Luciano, Clark Development Corporation president and CEO Felipe Anton Remollo, Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco Jr, and other VIPs.
AirAsia Philippines is currently awaiting official approval from the CAB to start flying commercially. The airline plans to use the first aircraft to service Singapore, Macau and Hong Kong routes, and the second one to fly routes to Bangkok in Thailand, Incheon in South Korea, Kalibo and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines.
AirAsia Philippines was announced in December 2010. It is 60% owned in equal partnership by Filipino entrepreneurs Marianne Hontiveros, Antonio Conjuangco Jr., and Michael Romero, and 40% owned by AirAsia Berhad through its wholly-owned subsidiary AirAsia International Inc. It is the fourth member of AirAsia Group, which now includes AirAsia Berhad (AirAsia Malaysia), AirAsia Thailand, and AirAsia Indonesia.
AirAsia Group is the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia, servicing an extensive network with approximately 160 routes covering destinations in the ASEAN region, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka and Australia. Through its low-cost long-haul affiliate AirAsia X, its guests are able to fly to more destinations in Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, India, Iran, Korea, Japan, the UK and France.