For AirAsia PH, next 2-3 years will be crucial in reviving IPO dreams
AirAsia Philippines’ public listing remains an “aspiration” as the budget carrier stays on the lookout for sudden disruptions that could thwart the current upswing in travel demand.
The company’s $200-million initial public offering (IPO), shelved at the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns last year, could be revived if the budget carrier sees a clear path to recovery and the return of prepandemic operations, said Ricardo Isla, chief executive of AirAsia Philippines.
“The moment we see a very good trend in the next two to three years, then we will immediately plan for that IPO,” Isla told reporters at a briefing last week.
For now, Isla said AirAsia Philippines wanted to “see all of our flights get back” as it prepares for the reopening of more domestic and international routes.
AirAsia Philippines, controlled by the family of 1Pacman party list Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero’s F&S Holdings, was previously eyeing a valuation of about $1 billion and a share sale involving 20 percent of the carrier.
AirAsia Philippines officials said the IPO proceeds would be used to support business expansion and the doubling of its fleet to 50 planes.
The plan was foiled after travel restrictions and global lockdowns were imposed following the emergence of COVID-19.
After two years, the pandemic continues to pose a risk to the sector. This was underscored last week after the World Health Organization said it was monitoring a new variant from South Africa, dubbed Omicron. The news prompted the Philippines and other countries to restrict travel from South Africa and nearby territories.
With local infections on the downtrend, Isla said the carrier was preparing to increase domestic flights by over 50 percent next month versus November.
Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines will maintain its existing fleet size during the “period of recovery.”
The opening of more international trips by the second quarter of 2022 would allow the airline to increase its fleet and also bring back more cabin crew and ground operations staff.
“We are reactivating our Allstars [employees] who underwent hibernation during the height of the pandemic. To clarify, hibernated Allstars were not separated from the company and still enjoyed some benefits of a regular employee,” said Steve Dailisan, spokesperson for AirAsia Philippines
“Meanwhile, the rehiring of separated employees will definitely happen once we return to the prepandemic levels or frequency,” he added.
AirAsia Philippines saw passenger volume jump by 167 percent to 180,971 from July to September, parent firm AirAsia Berhad said. INQ
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