MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Alfred M. Yao’s Zest Airways aims to capture a good part of the more than 50 million Chinese tourists seen going to various destinations in Southeast Asia this year and bring them to the Philippines.
Yao, president and chief executive officer of the budget carrier, bared the plan in an interview where he said the airline continues to pursue its fleet and route expansion programs seen to more than double its ability to ferry domestic and international passengers.
He said the observed cancellation of bookings by Chinese tourists to destinations in the Philippines from April up to November last year has turned the corner and has now picked up speed again.
“The Chinese tourists who cancelled booked flights last year are back. This is a positive development for us in the airline business. Last year we missed the chance to service the booking requirements of some 50 million Chinese tourists who moved around Southeast Asia,” Yao, who also chairs the board at the Philippine Business Bank, a thrift bank, said.
Yao pointed out that Zest Air has the most number of daily flights to South Korea of seven or eight a day.
The airline flies to Incheon airport (Seoul), for instance, from four places in the Philippines—Manila, Mactan Cebu in the Visayas, Clark in Pampanga and Kalibo in Aklan.
Yao also said the airline also seeks air rights to travel to additional destinations in China where it currently flies to Shanghai and Jinjiang.
He added that the airline is interested in flying to Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China, then the port city of Xiamen, then Chengdu which is the capital city of the province of Sichuan, and finally Ningdu in Jiangxi province.
Yao said the Chinese particularly like the Philippines’s beaches. Zest Air flies direct from Kalibo, Aklan to Shanghai.