AirAsia Zest launches KL flights

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

INAUGURAL FLIGHT. (From 3rd from left) Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Mary Grace Paulino, MCIA general manager Nigel Paul Villarete and executive vice president and chief operating officer Joy Caneba lead the launch of AirAsia Zest’s flight from Cebu to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Allan Tangcawan of Sun.Star Cebu)


AS PART of its goal of bringing in more international flights to Cebu, low-cost carrier AirAsia Zest recently launched its first flight from Cebu to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Last Sunday, AirAsia Zest welcomed 128 guests at Mactan Cebu International Airport as the first passengers of its Cebu-Kuala Lumpur route.

The flight, Z2 187, was operated by an all-Filipino crew. It left MCIA at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday and arrived in Kuala Lumpur’s Low Cost Carrier Terminal at 9:50 a.m.

The return flight from Kuala Lumpur landed at MCIA at 2:50 p.m. on the same day, followed by a traditional water-dousing ceremony of its Airbus A320.

“Today’s inaugural flight is only the first among the many new routes that AirAsia Zest will launch in Cebu,” executive vice president and chief operating officer Joy Caneba said in a statement.

She said that on Dec. 19, the low-cost carrier will open a new route from Cebu to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Sabah state in Malaysia, and also in mid-December to Incheon in South Korea.

The low-cost carrier’s move in opening a Cebu-Malaysia flight is expected to draw in more Malaysian tourists in the country, especially in Cebu, as it is targeting to attract 10 percent of Malaysia’s 25 million annual tourists.

AirAsia Zest already opened a direct flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 4 to Kuala Lumpur. It has two direct flights daily.

“If we are able to draw even a fraction of Malaysia’s 25 million annual tourists, it will have a significant impact on our tourist arrival record, which translates to more jobs, more food on the table, more opportunities for every Filipino,” said Caneba.

Meanwhile, MCIA general manager Nigel Paul Villarete expressed his confidence that the increasing number of international flights at the Cebu airport will help MCIA be considered as one of the country’s top aviation centers.

He cited the landing of the world’s largest aircraft, Antonov 225, at the airport last Nov. 12, which delivered a 140-ton power generator to help restore power in Yolanda-hit areas.

“If Antonov could land in Mactan, then we can get anything else to land here,” Villarete said.

Caneba said Cebu can expect more inbound traffic for next year, with AirAsia Zest’s new lineup of international flights.

She said that it is in 2013 that AirAsia Zest “dramatically expanded” and is eyed to expand more next year.

Several months ago, AirAsia Inc. Phillippines and Zest Airways Inc. entered into an agreement and launched a rebranded airline, which is now known as AirAsia Zest.

It operates a fleet of 13 aircraft and serves domestic destinations in Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Iloilo, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro with international points in Asia, including China and South Korea from its hub in NAIA.
Caneba said they will add two more aircraft at the end of the year.

For its new routes, AirAsia Zest is offering an P8 base fare only promo for all domestic and select international flights from its hub in Cebu and Manila.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.

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