AirAsia’s Philippine affiliate is pressing for the group’s long-haul carrier AirAsia X to open a new hub near Manila, but it appears that no such move is on the horizon.
While discussing plans for Zest AirAsia—a joint venture in the Philippines—Chairman Michael Romero said that Zest is trying to convince AirAsia X to establish an affiliate of its own at Clark International Airport. Clark is about 50 mi. from the more central, and crowded, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.
However, a spokeswoman for Malaysia’s AirAsia X tells Aviation Week that the airline is not looking at the Philippines as a location for a new offshore base. AirAsia X is currently focused on setting up joint venture affiliates in Thailand and Indonesia, she adds.
AirAsia X’s long term strategy is to create joint ventures in locations where the AirAsia group’s short-haul carriers have already established themselves, so they can provide feed for the long-haul carrier.
However, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani has previously stated that Thailand and Indonesia are the only AirAsia offshore affiliates that are mature enough to support a long-haul carrier. Thai authorities are processing the certification application for Thai AirAsia X, which is expected to launch in the first quarter 2014.
Another difficulty with an AirAsia X hub at Clark is that it would be separated from the short-haul operation at NAIA, where Zest is based. The smaller AirAsia Philippines until recently was based at Clark, but that airline is moving to NAIA to better align with Zest.