Why AirAsia Philippines won't return to Clark yet

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 13 2014 12:08 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2014 08:08 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - AirAsia Malaysia may have decided to relaunch its flights from Kuala Lumpur to Clark International Airport, but AirAsia Philippines will not be following suit anytime soon.

AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said the Philippine unit of the low-cost airline will only lose money if it operates again at the Clark International Airport.

AirAsia Philippines previously offered Davao, Kalibo, Taipei and Hong Kong flights from Clark, but suspended these last year and moved flights to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

"AirAsia Philippines was trying to make Clark another Manila," Fernandes told a small group of Filipino journalists after the launch of the airline's new service, the Premium Flex, on Monday.

"But [it] couldn't make Clark work because the infrastructure just didn't support people from Manila going to Clark," he said.

He pointed out that the connector road which was supposed to link the south and north of Manila to cut travel time "never happened."

He said if, for example, AirAsia Philippines will again mount flights to Kalibo from Clark, the local market will not be big enough to support these.

"We need to take some of the Manila market. But no one from Manila wants to go to Clark. It just takes too long [to travel]," he said.

AirAsia Malaysia, meanwhile, is set to relaunch its direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Clark International Airport on October 17.

The flights will be operated four times a week -- every Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Fernandes said, "Many of our passengers, including many of my friends, live around Clark and they work there. And they said, 'Hey we'd rather go to Clark because we are from that area.' So we said, 'Okay we'll put it back on.'"

"So we have a specific flight serving a specific group of people," he added.