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AirAsia finally cleared for take-off in Clark


By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Posted at 02/07/2012 8:51 AM | Updated as of 02/07/2012 8:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - It’s now all systems go for AirAsia Philippines, a company partly owned by businessman Antonio O. Cojuangco and port operator Michael Romero, whose maiden commercial flight could not push through earlier due to the absence of a critical government permit.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), after much delay, granted AirAsia Philippines its airline operating certificate (AOC) that would allow it to fly commercially out of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga.

AirAsia Philippines is 60-percent owned by Cojuangco, Romero and former broadcast journalist Marianne Hontiveros in equal shares, while the rest is owned by Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd. led by Tony Fernandes. AirAsia Bhd is one of the world’s most successful budget carrier.

Romero told The STAR that with the issuance of the critical AOC, AirAsia Philippines will be mounting flights to new destinations one after the other.

Hontiveros, AirAsia Philippines president and CEO, had said that the carrier plans to use the first plane to fly to Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.

Aside from the three international destinations, the carrier plans to fly to Kalibo in Aklan province, Puerto Princesa in Palawan province, Incheon in South Korea, and Bangkok in Thailand.

In the last quarter of 2011, AirAsia Philippines had been granted rights by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to Malaysia, Cambodia and Japan.

The carrier was granted 1,260 seats a week on the Clark-to-Kuala Lumpur route. It was also granted seven flights per week on the Clark-to-Cambodia route.

Moreover, AirAsia Philippines was granted six flights per week that it can utilize either on the Clark-Osaka route or Clark-Nagoya route.

AirAsia Philippines, which hopes to have a fleet of 14 or more aircraft in about four years from 2011, is expecting the delivery of another two aircraft this year, Hontiveros said.

The carrier unveiled plans for a $25-million capital expenditure in December 2010.

Its parent has been flying to the country since 2005 from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.

AirAsia Philippines had planned to commence operations as early as October last year but failed to do so, pending the receipt of the necessary permits from regulators.

AirAsia Philippines in August last year had already received a temporary operating permit from the CAB.

CAAP director general Ramon Gutierrez has said that the application took a long process as airlines are required to submit data on its aircraft, proposed initial training for crew, documentation of maintenance system, among others.

CAAP had to review the documents submitted as well as conduct an inspection of the airline’s facility as part of the process for granting an air operator certificate, he added.

Last year, the carrier’s first aircraft, a 180-seater Airbus A320, arrived at its hub in Clark. Its second aircraft, meanwhile, was delivered later in 2011.

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