Air Asia PH unit focuses on Chinese visitors
Air Asia Philippines is targeting visitors from China in its latest expansion push.
The airline announced that it would add flights from Kalibo International Airport, a gateway to Boracay Island, to the Chinese cities of Macau, Kunming and Chengdu.
Air Asia Philippines said the Kalibo-Macau flights would start on March 2, 2019, and would operate three times a week. Flights to Chengdu will fly four times a week starting Jan. 24 while flights to Kunming will operate three times a week starting Jan. 25 this year.
Chinese visitors to the Philippines have been increasing, in part, due to warmer relations between Manila and Beijing under President Duterte.
Between January and October last year, the number of Chinese visitors to the Philippines increased by 31 percent to 1.1 million— the largest jump recorded by the Department of Tourism. Visitors from China were the second highest in number, just behind South Koreans.
Air Asia Philippines is expecting that many of the Chinese travelers would visit Boracay, the popular tourist destination that was shut down last year under a six-month rehabilitation effort.
“China is an important market for leisure and tourism and we are excited to bring them back to Boracay. Direct flights will provide ease and comfort for Chinese tourists while giving local tourism industry a necessary boost after the rehabilitation works that closed the island to all tourists for six months last year,” Dexter Comendador, Air Asia Philippines CEO, said in a statement.
AirAsia earlier announced that it would operate Kalibo- Hangzhou flights starting Jan. 18, 2019.
The AirAsia Group has multiple routes to China from its hubs in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. It operates flights to Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hangzhou from hubs in Manila, Cebu and Kalibo.
Air Asia Philippines is the country’s third largest domestic carrier. From July to September 2018, it carried 1.58 million passengers, up 23 percent. Its capacity also went up by 34 percent. It ended the period with 21 midrange Airbus A320s from 16 planes in 2017.
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