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AirAsia eyes flights to Guam by 2020

AirAsia eyes flights to Guam by 2020

AirAsia Philippines is planning flights to Guam by 2020 as rival budget airline Cebu Pacific pulls out.

AirAsia Philippines’ newly appointed CEO Ricardo Islas said the airline would seek a permit to fly to the United States territory once it had secured regulatory approval to be designated an official carrier to the United States.

“Upon receipt of designation, AirAsia will be ready to apply for an operating permit to operate flights specifically to Guam,” Isla said in a text message.

“With a fleet of 24 Airbus A320 aircraft, AirAsia is capable of launching flights as soon as permits are ready,” he added.

AirAsia Philippines earlier filed a petition before the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for designation and allocation of entitlements to the United States currently held by Air Philippines, an affiliate of Philippine Airlines. A CAB hearing on the matter has been set on Sept. 10 this year.

“We are hopeful the Civil Aeronautics Board will grant our petition,” Isla said.

Guam, about three and a half hours away from the Philippines, has a population of more than 160,000 people—a quarter of which are Filipinos. This made it attractive for Cebu Pacific, which launched flights between Manila and Guam on March 2016.

“It was a good market but it’s more of us concentrating efforts on North Asia and Southeast Asia,” Cebu Pacific vice president Alexander Lao said in a recent interview. Lao said the carrier would end Manila-to-Guam flights by Dec. 8 this year.

AirAsia Philippines earlier announced plans to aggressively expand its fleet and add more destinations. Cebu Pacific, the country’s biggest budget airline, is also on expansion mode.

Cebu Pacific expects to receive more than 60 aircraft in the next eight years. This will include new orders from the Paris Air Show in June for 31 new planes, comprised of 16 Airbus A330neos, 10 A321XLRs and five A320neos. The new aircraft have a list price of $6.8 billion.