AirAsia Philippines has set ambitious targets to restore its fleet to prepandemic levels by the end of this year, executives said in an interview.
Steve Dailisan, the spokesman for AirAsia Philippines, said the carrier is gunning to end 2024 with as much as 25 aircraft, one jet more than its pre-pandemic capacity of 24 airliners.
“Our main goal for the first and second quarters is the reactivation of our fleet—returning to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
Dailisan noted however that the company is faced with challenges due to the backlogs at Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) organizations.
“It’s a bit challenging because the queue at MROs has been piling up.”
The airline is currently operating 16 aircraft and anticipates increasing this number to 17 by the first or second week of February.
This figure, however, still falls short of the 24 aircraft they were operating in 2019.
Dailisan highlighted AirAsia’s broader plans to expand capacity.
“But our goal is also to introduce the Airbus 321 into our fleet by the fourth quarter. So, the additional A321 will allow us more capacity on the routes we fly.”
Two A321s will join AirAsia Philippines’ fleet by the second semester of 2024.
AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla noted that the tail end of the second quarter towards the third quarter will be a “significant” period in terms of capacity restoration for the carrier.
“That’s when we’ll really have the full complement, close to the 2019 levels,” he clarified.
The AirAsia Group had announced in early January that it plans to make Manila its “hub to the United States” as it adopts a “multi-hub strategy” with the planned consolidation of its airline businesses across Southeast Asia.
In a press conference, Capital A Bhd. CEO Tony Fernandes said the group will transform other key cities, such as Bangkok and Manila as “hubs,” similar to Kuala Lumpur, where it operates its largest route network.
Manila will become AirAsia Group’s “hub to the US” and flights to America are expected to be launched by “2025.”
Fernandes cited Los Angeles as one of the destinations that AirAsia will be launching for its US expansion via Manila.
He added that the company will consolidate its airline businesses, creating a single entity owner for its regional operations. Fernandes called this initiative a “strategic disposal.”