Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yao undertakes Zest Air refleeting plan

ZEST Airways Inc., formerly Asian Spirit, has taken delivery of five new aircraft as part of a refleeting program that aims to capture a 10-percent share of the low-cost air travel market.
Banker and juice magnate Alfredo Yao, who also owns Zest-O Corp. and Philippine Business Bank, told reporters the budget airline will also receive five more brand-new aircraft next year as the airline beefs up its fleet to become a significant player in industry.
“We are rationalizing the fleet. Five MA-60 aircraft were already delivered and two more Airbus jets are coming in next month,” said Yao. All seven aircraft came from Canada.
The Airbus A-320s are ideal for regional and high-traffic domestic destinations, while the five 60-seater turboprop MA-60s will be used for short distance flights.
Yao supposedly earmarked in excess of $200 million for the ambitious refleeting program.
By the end of the year, he said the carrier would have a fleet of 10 to 11 after his group disposed of the aircraft that used to be part of Asian Spirit’s fleet.
The airline has also been adding the number of frequencies to existing destinations as well as flying new routes in recent months as part of its expansion program.
“Hopefully, we can get a 10-percent market share after a year of operations,” said Yao, noting the changes in the airline industry.
He said destinations like Caticlan in Aklan used to be dominated by small carriers like Asian Spirit and SEAIR, but even Philippine Airlines is now flying to that destination.
The company is eyeing the usual regional destinations like Hong Kong after inaugural flights to Inchong, Korea, Sandakan, Malaysia, and Macau. It is also looking at flying new domestic routes like Busuanga in Palawan.

By Elaine R. Alanguilan

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