AirAsia Philippines plans to add flights from its “home base” at Clark International Airport in Pampanga province on the expectation of continued recovery in air travel.
“When travel restrictions ease and demand soon rises, we look at strategic restoration of AirAsia’s Clark hub, hopefully by [the fourth quarter] of 2021, ”said AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricardo Isla in a statement Monday.
The budget company, a unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia Group, started its Philippine operations at Clark Airport in 2012, before taking over slots at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport the following year after acquiring Zest Airways.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, AirAsia Philippines operated domestic and international flights from Clark Airport.
These included Cagayan de Oro, Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, Incheon, Kaohsiung and Taipei.
The airline renewed its commitment to the air hub when Clark Airport was recently expanded with a new terminal building that could accommodate over 8 million passengers annually or double its previous capacity.
Over the weekend, President Duterte led the inspection of the new terminal among the so-called hybrid public-private partnership projects launched and completed under his administration.
The expansion of Clark Airport was part of the government’s goal of developing regional growth centers outside Metro Manila.
The terminal also has “advanced” facilities such as contactless luggage handling and check-in and check-out for passengers.
Clark Airport is currently operated by the private sector consortium Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. (Lipad), led by Filinvest Development Corp. and JG Summit Holdings.
Lipad won the 25-year contract for the maintenance and operation of Clark Airport in 2018 and took over the operation of the facility in August the following year.
The new terminal was built and completed last year by Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR infrastructure. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 6pm. 4 and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.