AirAsia, Zest Air eye flights to Japan
MANILA - Low cost carrier AirAsia Inc. Philippines and sister firm Zest Airways Inc. are looking at the possibility of mounting flights to Japan.
In its second quarter report ended June 30, 2013 submitted to Bursa Malaysia, AirAsia Berhad said AirAsia Inc. (Philippines) and ZestAir could mount flights to Japan through its hubs in the Philippines.
“AirAsia and Zest group will explore this opportunity to serve Japan routes from Manila, Kalibo, Cebu, and Clark,” AirAsia stated in the financial report.
The Philippines is set to hold air talks with Japan on Sept. 11 to 13 in its bid to convince aviation authorities to finally lift a ban that prevents local airlines from mounting additional flights to Japan.
Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), earlier said the scheduled talks with Japan is aimed at resolving several issues as the remaining air safety concerns were lifted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last February.
“We hope to resolve several issues during the talks. We assume that this is an indication that Japan is willing to increase flight entitlements,” Arcilla stressed.
Japanese officials were reportedly satisfied with the presentation made by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) during the latest visit made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japan has been imposing restrictions on local carriers from the Philippines preventing them from mounting additional flights after they raised several safety security concerns. ICAO lifted the remaining significant security concerns after Philippines through the CAAP passed the audit conducted from Feb. 18 to Feb. 22 paving the way for the series of upgrades.
The CAB asked Japan as well as South Korea to lift the ban preventing Philippine domestic carriers from mounting additional flights to the both countries.
Last July 10, the European Union (EU) lifted the ban imposed in March 2010 which prevented national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) from entering the European airspace.
Aviation authorities are confident that the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) would also upgrade the country’s status back to Category 1.
In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of ICAO to Category 2 after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.
AirAsia is bullish about the impending upgrade of the Philippines back to Category 1 within the year or early next year.
“The Philippines is expected to emerge from Category 2 by the end of the year or early next year. This will further boost the continued growth of visitors’ arrivals and this bodes well for the Philippines’ aviation industry,” AirAsia said.
AirAsia Philippines is an associate company and is 40 percent owned by AirAsia Berhad. It reported a net loss of RM24 million in the quarter ended June 30, 2013 from a net loss of RM24.8 million in the same period last year.
AirAsia Berhad’s operating profit rose 23.5 percent to RM243.94 million in the second quarter ended June 30, 2013 from RM197.46 million in the same period last year as revenues grew 5.4 percent to RM1.24 billion from RM1.181 billion due to the 12 percent growth in passenger volume amid the 10 percent drop in average fare.