Zest Air Retires MA-60

5:00 pm on Friday, May 10, 2013 represented a historic moment in the life of Zest Air as its very last turbo-prop flight landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on its final trip from Busuanga.

The last flight symbolizes a shift towards a new era for Zest who will now be embracing Air Asia's business model and operating an all Airbus fleet as Air Asia management gradually assumes greater control of Zest Airways through their strategic alliance. 

Zest Air originally placed an order on June 3, 2009 for six Xian MA-60 turboprops in an effort to streamline the once diverse fleet of its predecessor, Asian Spirit. The MA-60 replaced Asian Spirit's Bae-146, Casa CN-235, DeHavilland Dash 7, NAMC YS-11, and LET 410.  Zest Air was the only operator of a Chinese built aircraft in the Philippines. The aircraft were delivered in October 2009.

zest air ma-60
Photo Copyright: Darryl Wilson
But the aircraft did not enjoy a perfect record with Zest Air and was plagued by two significant incidents during its tenure with the airline. In January 2009, an aircraft crashed at Caticlan Airport while trying to land. The aircraft caught fire and suffered extensive damage. While several passengers were injured, no fatalities were reported. Later that same year, a MA-60 aircraft overshot the runway at Caticlan Airport in June of 2009. There were no fatalities in that incident either.
With the departure of the MA-60 turboprops from the Zest fleet, the last four remaining turboprop destinations will be dropped as well including Busuanga, Marinduque, Masbate, and Tablas. Both Marinduque and Masbate had one daily flight while Busuanga had 11 weekly flights and Tablas had 3 flights weekly. There is no word yet of any competitors that may be stepping in to fill the void. The new slots at Manila airport made available by the loss of the MA-60 flights will be replaced by Airbus services to Zest's new destinations in Bacolod, Cagayan De Oro, Kuala Lumpur, Saigon, Macau, and Kota Kinabalu. From May 10th onwards, Air Asia Philippines will be taking over responsibility for all new reservations for Zest Air flights.

In remembrance of this unique aircraft to fly the Philippines skies, here is a travel blog showcasing the MA-60 experience flying from Manila to Boracay.


  1. Replies
    1. that Useless "made-in-china" Aircraft was long gone.Airasia Philippines Now Has Jet Powered Planes Like A320s.

  2. There seems to be something wrong with this article. It says that the planes were delivered in October 2009, yet it says that the crash landing happened in January 2009. How did a crash happen even before the planes were delivered?


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