AirAsia Zest adds flights from Cebu-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Friday, November 1, 2013
AFTER making available daily Manila-to-Cebu flights, low-cost carrier AirAsia Zest hopes to grow its presence in Cebu by offering three domestic destinations and one international destination before the year ends.
The company announced direct flights from Cebu to Puerto Princesa, Davao and Cagayan de Oro beginning Nov. 15 and a direct flight from Cebu to Kuala Lumpur beginning Dec. 1. The Puerto Princesa flights will be four times weekly while the services to Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Kuala Lumpur will be daily.
AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Marianne Hontiveros said that when they started the company in the Philippines, they always wanted to fly out of Cebu. AirAsia Philippines has a 49 percent stake at AirAsia Zest, which used to be called ZestAir.
To reflect its partnership with AirAsia, the airline has been rebranded to meet the standards of AirAsia.
They also hope to introduce themselves to the communities they are operating in.
Hontiveros and AirAsia Zest executive vice president and chief operating officer Joy Caneba arrived in Cebu last week to transport relief goods and donations from Manila, coursed through different non-government organizations. The relief goods are intended for the earthquake victims in Bohol.
Hontiveros said they have been carrying cargo since Oct. 18 to help transport relief goods and are encouraging those who want to donate to drop their donations at their cargo office in Pasay City.
AirAsia Zest hopes to differentiate themselves from other low-cost carriers. “Low-cost doesn’t have to be low quality,” said Hontinveros.
She and Caneba added that when they advertise promotional fares, they include all the terms, conditions and taxes required for the ticket so the passengers are not deceived.
Currently, they are offering a free seats promo on their website until Oct. 27 to introduce their new destinations to Cebuanos.
“We don’t hide our add-ons in fine print. We put it where it is visible and we did that way before the passengers’ bill of rights was passed.”
Considering some customers’ hesitance to pay for their tickets online with their credit cards, the company is also accepting payments through payment partners like 7 Eleven, BayadCenter and Cebuana Lhuillier stores.
By offering a direct flight to Kuala Lumpur, Caneba said they are also giving Cebuanos access to AirAsia’s over 85 destinations across Southeast Asia, China, India and Australia.
They also revealed plans to offer more destinations out of Cebu, but declined to name the destinations until plans are finalized and approved. They will be able to offer more flights with the expected delivery of two new Airbus A320s next month and in December.
They are also especially proud of their crew and assured that even ground staff and those working in other departments are trained to help out in a crisis and be helpful to their passengers.
“Everyone is a front-liner. Even if you work in accounting and you’re not doing anything critical, you are encouraged to help out in a crisis. They are trained to respond to a crisis, not hide behind a counter if there is a problem,” Hontiveros told reporters, adding that they studied all the complaints of passengers flying in low-cost carriers and did what was needed to prevent such problems.
Company officials said they have an 11 percent market share in Cebu but said they want to increase that number.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 02, 2013.