AirAsia seeks govt aid on low-cost airport

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: A top official of AirAsia Zest has called on the government to provide an airport for low-cost carriers (LCCs) to make travel affordable to Filipinos with average incomes.

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Newly installed chief executive officer of AirAsia Zest Joy Caneba said that as a low-cost operator the company has invested in aircraft and marketing routes so that more people could afford to travel but the government, she said, must do its share.

“We are encouraging the government to establish a low-cost carrier airport to make it more efficient for airlines and effectively minimize the cost of operations,” she said.

Despite the rising cost of fuel, average fares are now 30 percent lower than they were 10 years ago because of the LCCs, which allow people who have never flown before to travel three to four times a year.

Promo fares and seat sales allow even minimum-wage earners to fly.

In 2011, LCCs dominated the domestic market with a 76 percent market share, or three out of every four domestic passengers benefiting from the entry of LCCs in the market. In 2006, one out of every two domestic passengers flew on LCCs.

In June 2013, during a Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit held in Davao, one of the country’s low-cost operators said that LCCs in the Philippines accounted for about 96 percent of total domestic air travel growth from 2006 to 2011.

This was mainly driven by the low fares offered by LCCs.

In 2013 AirAsia Zest asked the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to expand and improve Terminal 4 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport to be able to serve more travelers.

“AirAsia Zest is willing to provide the design and expertise for the construction of a low-cost carrier airport,” Caneba said.

“The airport operator will be able to recoup the investment in terms of retail,” the official said, saying that the construction of the hub would not take more than three years to finish especially since there is an existing terminal building at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 4.

AirAsia Zest sees big potential for its operations at NAIA Terminal 4.

“A lot of people really want to travel. If you ask them what is on their bucket list, they always say, I really want to travel but they say I really need to save up for it so a low cost carrier can meet that demand [but]we need the support of the government to provide us the low-cost facility,” Caneba said.

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