Air Asia Zest Plans Service to Japan in October

Budget carrier AirAsia Zest has revealed that it plans to double the number of passengers it carried last year by implementing a route expansion that will take the carrier as far as Japan in October of this year.

air asia japan
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to new AirAsia Zest CEO Joy Caneba, the carrier hopes to see annual passenger traffic reach 5.5 million for 2014 versus 2.6 million the previous year. Caneba is banking on international route growth to achieve the goals. 

"My strategy is to bring in more inbound traffic so the growth will come more from international operations," said Caneba. "My plan for AirAsia Zest is to be one of the major players in the Philippines aviation industry, and to do that, we need the company to drive into the North Asian markets." She added that the carrier will be targeting the South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese markets, while also providing more travel opportunities for Filipinos.

AirAsia Zest has applied to the Civil Aeronautics Board for permission to serve Tokyo Haneda airport in Japan. All fourteen weekly flight allocations are presently held by Philippine Airlines but the carrier is only using half. "We are asking for at least a quarter of the allocations," said Caneba. In addition to Haneda, the carrier has also filed applications for Tokyo Narita and Nagoya. The airline is planning to launch its first flights to Japan beginning in October of this year. 

But AirAsia Zest is not focused solely on the international market. It also wants to re-establish its domestic network and expand routes in the Philippines. "We want to re-establish our bases in Manila, Cebu, and Kalibo, so we are partnering with the local governments of Kalibo and Cebu for the promotion of these destinations," said Caneba. 

Meanwhile, AirAsia Zest is also considering going public once it has managed to record consecutive years of profitability. According to Caneba, any funds raised would be used for route and fleet expansion. The carrier is hoping that it will achieve profitability starting this year. "We're required to have three years of profitability," said Caneba. "The earliest we can go public is three years from now."

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