AirAsia cancels Palawan, Macau flights
ANGELES CITY—Citing “cost pressures,” the Philippines’ AirAsia has announced that it is suspending its flights to Puerto Princesa City and Macau via the Clark International Airport (CIA) here starting Dec. 1.
Letters that the airline sent to clients who reserved seats for Puerto Princesa were offered the options to reschedule their flight before Dec. 1, cancel the flight and convert fare into a 90-day online credit shell or cancel the flight and refund the fare.
“AirAsia has always taken great consideration in deciding any changes of flights to destinations that we serve,” said the airline in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the current economic situation brought about by high cost of fuel and other operational challenges have placed cost pressures on our Clark-to-Puerto-Princesa route,” it said.
The move, however, had inconvenienced some travelers who had booked their flights early and who had to rebook trips or look for other flights to suit their prearranged schedules.
“They have investments [in Clark and Angeles City], Tune Hotels for one,” one passenger said in a text message to Inquirer. “Did it make a wrong projection of their prospects? Or was there a bad turn of business because the government is dilly-dallying [on using CIA as a major gateway]?” the passenger said.
The national government has not yet set a plan to transfer the operations of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark.
President Aquino had been quoted as saying transferring the premier airport to Clark is not even being discussed in the Cabinet.
Maan Hontiveros, AirAsia chief executive officer, said the decision to cancel flights to Puerto Princesa and Macau was both for business and tourism reasons.
“We need to build up routes within an infrastructure that supports low-fare services since we are in an industry that is not immune to rising fuel cost and operational challenges,” she said.
“We intend to open up new international routes within these markets, as well as add frequencies on existing routes, thanks to the aggressive campaign of [the Department of Tourism] in promoting the country abroad.”
AirAsia, she said, will serve Singapore and Taipei starting Dec. 15, add more flights to Hong Kong, and reduce flights to the routes it pioneered in Davao City and Kalibo, Aklan. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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