Air Asia: Clark is Only Viable Secondary International Airport

The Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Philippines believes that Clark International Airport is Manila's best chance at decongesting flights at Ninoy Aquino International Airport and is the only viable alternative for a secondary international airport.

Image Source: Wikimedia
"We have always believed in the dual airport system," said Maan Hontiveros, CEO of AirAsia Philippines. "We have always believed that this is Clark. It will complement the operations of Ninoy Aquino International Airport."

As affirmation of AirAsia's position, Hontiveros highlighted the resumption of direct flights offered between Clark and Kuala Lumpur by parent company, Malaysia-based Air Asia Berhad. Hontiveros was on hand at Clark International Airport last month to welcome the return of AirAsia to Clark on October 17. The new flights will be operated four times weekly.

AirAsia Philippines last served Clark approximately one year ago when it relocated its primary hub to Ninoy Aquino International Airport after it formed a strategic alliance with what was then known as Zest Airways. "We always said it was temporary," said Hontiveros. "Now we are back." Those sentiments were echoed by AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes earlier this year when he stated that the carrier would one day return to Clark. "We love Clark," said Fernandes.

However, in spite of the return of direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Clark, it remains unclear when AirAsia will resume flights at Clark as a secondary base. Clark International Airport was previously AirAsia Philippines' primary hub in the Philippines. Hontiveros added that the carrier would be back "sooner than later."

AirAsia Philippines has been concentrating its efforts on improving its strategic alliance with Zest Airways, which now operates as AirAsia Zest. In addition to streamlining operations, AirAsia has been busy infusing its company standards at Zest over the better part of the last year. This resulted in the airline folding up operations at Clark in order to bring their best people to Manila.

"It wasn't practical if we were operating at two places at one time," said Hontiveros. Both carriers now operate out of Terminal 4 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Hontiveros added that AirAsia had "lost money and not profited" during its time at Clark International Airport, but that it was to be expected. The irrational competition in the Philippine market with an excessive number of carriers and the high cost of aviation gas all contributed to the inability to generate a profit.

However, with the recent decision of the Supreme Court to limit the increase of gasoline prices on foreign flights, Hontiveros remains optimistic that AirAsia, voted World's Best Low-Cost Airline for several consecutive years, will begin to profit in 2015 at Clark and NAIA.

Meanwhile, officials at Clark International Airport are pleased to see the return of AirAsia to the Pampanga gateway. "I think this is a positive development for Clark Airport," said Emigdio Tanguatco III, CEO of Clark International Airport. "On our part, we will try to keep them satisfied, make sure that all their concerns are addressed and build a better relationship with AirAsia." The airport has struggled to attract a large number of passengers and major carriers due to its distance from Manila and the lack of available public transport. 

Clark International Airport is hoping that AirAsia Philippines will shift its operations once again back to Clark. "We hope based on the conversations with Maan Hontiveros that they are very impressed with the new developments at the airport and that they will try to convince their Manila operations to transfer at Clark," said Tanjuatco.

Hontiveros noted that the return of flights between Clark and Kuala Lumpur is a positive development for both Clark Airport and Air Asia. "We are very happy as passengers are excited about the return of the Clark-Kuala Lumpur flights at Clark Airport and we will continue providing a much better travel experience for our passengers taking their flights at Clark," said Hontiveros. Passengers travelling to Kuala Lumpur from Clark can take advantage of AirAsia's extensive network out of its main hub at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. 


  1. No Way Jose!
    Major need to move traffic away from MNL.
    Not just "up the road"

    Take Florida, Malasia and Thailand as examples - Direct International Flights to the Southern islands such as
    Cebu (Bohol?) and Mindanao!

    Just look at Direct flights to Phuket...

  2. Develop direct routes to the provinces from overseas or from inter island traffic. Clark is the worst choice to replace NAIA. It has no proper infrastructure like a road system which brings the passengers at a reasonable and calculable time from the South of Metro Manila to Clark. Further, a high speed railroad connection is completely absent. CIA is and will stay in the future a Low Cost Carrier Airport.

  3. If there is a sane transportation system like high speed rail or reliable shuttle services, it is a good idea for the Phil. government to invest more in Clark Airport. It would also benefit most passengers from North of Manila and make Clark a competitive hub for no-frills airlines. I, for one, prefer to fly from Clark to destinations in the Middle East, Australia, Europe and Africa via Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, Jakarta or Taipei. And of course you save a lot flying with no-frills airlines. Just be logical, OK? I'm from the savings-oriented Ilocos Region!

    1. Yes, it is only 81 kilometers distance, so Noynoy should lead the fast construction of a speed railway from Clark to Metro Manila. It will benefit all Filipinos and not only Gloria Macapagal! Remember, the population is "frighteningly" increasingl We all Filipinos need this project!
      Remember, the shuttle will pay for itself in the end as it makes money for its future services!
      Noynoy and the local governments of Pampanga and Tarlac should cooperate well in this important project. Forget political animosity on this project, please! This a your good legacy forever!

  4. I like Clark and it's a breeze to get to once you get to the NLEX. However - I don't like the mentality of friends and family having to wait for me outside - or not able to walk into the terminal with me. No one wants to drive an hour for that!
    If a friend drives me to the airport, why should they have to go to the bathroom in the parking lot? For once - airport officials need to quit taking the easy way and make a concentrated effort to actually provide a world class facility. Friends and family that go to the airport, buy meals and go shopping in the terminal as they see their loved ones off. Clark is wasting the space in their shiny new terminal and turning away jobs and thousands of dollars in economic opportunity.

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