|photo: AirAsia facebook|
Undaunted by uncertainties in Mindanao, AirAsia will connect Davao to Kuala Lumpur beginning December 21, with plans to develop the city into a hub for the BIMP-EAGA initiative that comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The 180-pax, four-times weekly services will be the second carrier to connect Davao to South-east Asia after Singapore’s SilkAir service, despite efforts from the Philippines to attract foreign carriers to Davao.
Speaking to TTG Asia on the sidelines of the Davao Investment Conference last Friday, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said: “Life is all about taking risks… (it comes down to) how you market Davao. I really hope the airport supports us (in terms of) incentives and marketing.”
This would not be the first time AirAsia is opening a route that “nobody dreamt of doing”, Fernandes said, referring to the airline’s Macau services, the first from South-east Asia, and other pioneering routes including to Bandung, Langkawi and Clark.
AirAsia Philippines CEO Dexter Comendador added that the airline is planning flights from Davao to Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Brunei and other destinations in the BIMP-EAGA corridors.
Comendador said Davao’s airport is willing to waive airport landing fees and other charges while BIMP-EAGA doesn’t charge travel taxes, making it feasible for the carrier to serve the region.
This would help alleviate a key challenge for LCCs, as he said that airport fees constitute one of the biggest costs for budget airlines, even higher than passenger fares in some instances.