Manila: AirAsia Bhd, Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier, plans to form a Philippine unit by the first quarter of next year, Philippine Board of Investments head Cristino Panlilio said.
Bloomberg reported that the Philippine venture would be formed with Antonio Cojuangco, a former chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co, and start flying domestic and overseas routes in 2011, Panlilio said by phone yesterday.
Cojuangco is President Benigno Aquino's cousin and a nephew of San Miguel Corp chairman Eduardo Cojuangco.
AirAsia may expand into the Philippines as airlines including Cebu Air Inc increase their fleets and services to meet rising demand in the archipelago.
The government has set a target to double tourism arrivals in six years to help spur economic growth. An e-mail to AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes didn't immediately receive a reply.
Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd, the budget carrier backed by Singapore Airlines Ltd, on Nov 23 said it would lease two planes to South East Asian Airlines, or SEAir, and form a marketing venture to expand into the Philippines.
SEAir flights from Clark, north of Manila, to Singapore will start Dec 16 and be offered through Tiger Air's website.
AirAsia, South-east Asia's largest budget carrier which recently doubled its third quarter earnings, has said it wants to not only expand operations in Malaysia but also expand its ventures in Indonesia and Thailand to take advantage of rising regional travel demand.
The airline reportedly plans to add as many as 12 aircraft a year and was targeting opportunities in Vietnam, the Philippines, India and China.
VietJet didn't set off, but they're still looking elsewhere! On another note, Happy 9th Birthday!