BUDGET carrier AirAsia expects its Philippine segment to emerge as one of its fastest-growing markets for this year, on account of the new airport projects in the country.
At the sidelines of the AirAsia Asean Day celebrations in Bangkok recently, AirAsia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes said they are planning to aggressively increase their market share in the Philippines—the country he considers as his “raw diamond”—in the next few years to take advantage of the infrastructure ramp-up being made in the country.
“I just had a meeting and for this year the Philippines and Indonesia will be our two biggest growth stories and we will add as many [planes] as we can,” Fernandes said. AirAsia currently holds an 18-percent market share in the country’s commercial aviation industry.
Fernandes said he is “proud” of and “amazed” by AirAsia Philippines’s growth, recounting that AirAsia had a “baptism of fire” while putting up their segment here in the country due to stringent competition with other budget airlines.
Asked how he is going to grow AirAsia to get a larger share of the pie in terms of flights and passengers, Fernandes replied, “Well, add more planes.”
He said they are on track to more than doubling their current fleet of 23 planes to 50 in three to four years’ time, with seven planes in the pipeline amounting to an investment of around $350 million.
AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricardo “Ricky” Isla—who was also present at the event—reiterated Fernandes’ claim, saying they are “determined” to increase AirAsia’s market share in the Philippines.
“The second quarter of this year was a record-breaking year of 2.2 million passengers, and that 2.2 million is something like a 25-percent growth from last year. That alone is an indication that we are really determined to get more market share,” Isla said.
“[The important thing is to] get all the aircraft while there is a continuous growth of airport facilities especially in the next two to three years and we have to be very ready. The moment we get all the slots in the airport we can accommodate more aircraft,” he added.
“More aircraft, more slots in the airport that will give us more destinations—provinces and international—we will surely increase our market share very, very soon,” he said.