AirAsia Zest Unveiled, Moving to Manila

AirAsia Philippines has unveiled its next major move in attempting to turn around its struggling operation in the Philippines. Earlier this month, the airline revealed that it would be discontinuing its flights from Clark Airport in an effort to support the operations of ZestAir while also planning a rebranding of both carriers to operate as a single product. That brand has now been revealed as AirAsia Zest featuring AirAsia's signature red livery in a hybrid format that incorporates the Zest title. Both AirAsia Philippines and Zest Air will now travel as AirAsia Zest. 

airasia zest
Image Source: AirAsia Zest
Tony Fernandes, Chief of the Air Asia Group, revealed earlier this month that AirAsia Philippines would be headed to Ninoy Aquino International Airport. "AirAsia Philippines is moving to Manila. More choice more value," said Fernandes. "The world's best low cost airline is going to NAIA." He added that the airline is not giving up on Clark. "Clark routes will be temporarily suspended but we will be going back to Clark," Fernandes said. But for now, the focus of AirAsia Zest's operations will be at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Industry observers believe that the move will yield positive results for AirAsia in the Philippines. Previous attempts to turn Clark Airport into a viable hub have been highly unprofitable with limited growth opportunities. But even in Manila, the challenges will continue as AirAsia Zest will face competition from market leader Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, and TigerAir Philippines. Even in spite of concentrating much of their routes in Manila, TigerAir has still failed to achieve profitability highlighting the challenges of competing in the Philippine market.

Copyright Photo: Reonel Cordova/PPSG
AirAsia Zest is attempting to follow suit with Philippine Airlines from a marketing standpoint where PAL Express and Philippine Airlines remain independent carriers but operate under a single brand. Whereas AirAsia's flights were once concentrated at Clark Airport and Zest focused on operations at Manila, both carriers will now operate out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. In its second quarter financial statement, AirAsia Group revealed that AirAsia Zest would expand to 16 aircraft by the end of 2013, representing an increase of 3 aircraft.

It remains unclear what flights will be operated by AirAsia. It is quite possible that AirAsia Philippines aircraft will continue to operate ZestAir flights. What is for certain is that AirAsia intends to create a consistent travel experience regardless if a passenger is onboard a ZestAir or AirAsia Philippines aircraft. As far as passengers are concerned, they are travelling with AirAsia Zest and shouldn't even notice a difference. While the future looks far more optimistic for both carriers, there are by no means less challenges to overcome in this fierce battleground.

Image Source: AirAsia Zest

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