Air Asia X: No Plans for Clark Airport

In spite of interest from AirAsia Zest management to designate Clark as a long-haul hub for AirAsia's long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X has revealed that it has no current interest in establishing a hub in the Philippines. 

airasia x clark airport
Copyright Photo: Peraudeau/
Earlier this month when announcing plans for AirAsia Zest, Chairman Michael Romero revealed that the local affiliate was trying to convince AirAsia X to establish a hub at Clark International Airport, located just 50 miles from the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The plan comes after AirAsia Philippines recently transferred its operations from Clark Airport after failing to make operations from the airport viable.

In an interview with Aviation Week, officials from AirAsia X stated that the airline is not currently looking at the Philippines as a location for a new offshore hub. It is presently concentrated on establishing joint venture affiliates in Indonesia and Thailand. The long-term strategy of AirAsia X is only to create joint ventures in locations where the local AirAsia short-haul affiliate has already established themselves so that they can provide feed for a long-haul carrier. 

This strategy poses a particular problem for AirAsia Zest that is still in the process of getting established. Since launching operations from Clark Airport in March 2012, AirAsia Philippines has yet to post a profit although its new relationship with Zest Air and transfer to Ninoy Aquino International Airport will certainly improve the carrier's prospects as it takes on the unified brand of AirAsia Zest. However, that still does not address how the local affiliate would plan to feed passengers from flights in Manila to flights out of Clark. A transfer by bus may not appeal to many passengers and AirAsia was not able to turn Clark into a domestic hub. But the opportunity to connect to long haul services might make a Clark domestic hub viable in the future if there was sufficient provincial feeder traffic complemented by local Manila traffic.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani reaffirmed that Indonesia and Thailand are the only AirAsia offshore affiliates that are currently mature enough to support a long-haul carrier. Thai authorities are currently in the process of certifying the application for Thai AirAsia X which is due to launch in the first quarter of 2014. 

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