Budget airline AirAsia is set to move its base to Clark International Airport as it plans a major expansion.
Chief executive officer Captain Dexter Comendador said the company was adding two extra planes to serve its international routes from Clark to Inchon, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.
From its existing 17 Airbus 320 planes, AirAsia plans to increase its fleet to about 70 planes within the next 10 to 15 years. In the meantime, it will add nine extra planes by the end of next year.
Capt. Comendador said Clark was the company’s original base before it moved to Manila’s NAIA in 2013.
However, as the capital’s airport is increasingly congested, the decision was made to return to the former US airbase.
He said: “We plan to establish Clark as our main hub, because Manila is too crowded. If I have 70 planes in 10 years, I do not have a place to park in Manila.
“Since we are opening Clark as a hub, we plan to fly to Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taipei.”
Aside from Clark, he said that the company was also setting its sights on the expansion of its base to international airports in Davao, Pangalo, Bohol and Palawan.
Capt. Comendador said: “The way to go for the government now is to build more airports that are bigger and longer so in the future airlines will be able to bring tourists right to the doorsteps of their desired destinations in the country.”
The Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) has waived the budget airline’s airport, landing, and takeoff fees.
CIAC chief Alexander Cauguiran earlier said discounts on similar fees have been granted to other airlines operating at the Clark International Airport.
AirAsia also flies to Manila, Davao, Cebu, Kalibo, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Puerto Princesa, Clark, Shanghai, Taipei, Incheon, Hong Kong, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, and Singapore.