Air Asia sets Clark flight to Kuala LumpurBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The local unit of Malaysian budget airline giant Air Asia Berhad is launching its first international flight out of the country Saturday as the company aims to be one of the Philippines’ biggest carriers.
In a statement, Air Asia Inc., a joint venture between Air Asia group founder Tony Fernandes and several Philippine shareholders, would mount its first flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday afternoon out of the Clark International Airport.
The new daily route complements AirAsia’s existing Kuala Lumpur-Clark-Kuala Lumpur morning flights, which have been in operation since 2005.
“The additional frequency to Kuala Lumpur enables our guests especially Filipinos to have access to Malaysia’s awesome tourist destinations,” AirAsia Inc. CEO Marianne Hontiveros said.
“More importantly, we want to draw tourists from Malaysia to our amazing beaches and natural wonders in Puerto Princesa, Kalibo, Davao and here in Central Luzon. If we are able to draw even a fraction of Malaysia’s 24.5 million tourists, this will impact on our tourist arrival record for 2012,” she said.
Total tourist arrivals in the 10 Southeast Asian countries reached almost 74 million last year, with Malaysia getting the biggest share or one-third of these arrivals or 24.5 million. Thailand came in second with 15.9 million, followed by Singapore with 11.6 million.
The region’s largest economy, Indonesia, ended the year with 7 million, Vietnam had 5 million, while the Philippines had 3.5 million. Of the tourists who arrived in the Asean region, about half came from within Asean. Visitors from Europe accounted for around 10 percent of the arrivals.
“Air Asia is proud to be a truly Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) airline with established operations based in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, plus Japan, servicing a network stretching across all Southeast Asian nations,” Hontiveros said.
Air Asia started its Philippine operations last March, starting with flights from Clark to Davao and Puerto Princesa.
Air Asia’s Philippine shareholders include Antonio Cojuangco Jr., Michael Romero and Hontiveros—all three equally owning 60 percent of the airline. The remaining 40 percent is held by Fernandes.
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