AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) is on track to consolidate its two Filipino operations - AirAsia Philippines (PQ, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l) and AirAsia Zest (Z2, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l) - into one single, unified entity - Philippines AirAsia (Z2, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l). Having secured the go-ahead from the Filipino senate earlier in the year, Philippines AirAsia CEO Joy Caneba told CAPA that final approval to merge the brands was recently secured with the AirAsia Zest brand to be phased out in due course.

In February, AirAsia Philippines moved to acquire a majority 51% shareholding in Zest Airways, Inc. t/a AirAsia Zest. Under the deal, Zest Airways Inc.'s majority shareholder Alfredo Yao took a 15% stake in AirAsia Philippines in addition to cash, while AirAsia Philippines' existing Filipino shareholders - Antonio Cojuangco, Michael Romero, and Marianne Hontiveros - each received a 15% stake in the carrier. The remaining 40% is owned by parent company, AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia.

Regulatory requirements complete, AirAsia Zest will rebrand and operate as AirAsia Philippines thereby unifying the AirAsia brand in the Philippines, Caneba added.

In terms of operations, the new consolidated carrier will sell off its older A320-200s as well as those powered by V2500s that were inherited from Zest. With each of the carrier's shareholders injecting a total of USD50 million in fresh capital, the Filipino LCC intends to resume fleet growth in 2016 adding three additional A320-200s each year.

In terms of networking plans, the airline will focus on developing its Chinese market operations where growth has been particularly strong. Future bases will likely focus on secondary cities and may include Puerto Princesa which the LCC intends to connect with destinations in China as well as Malaysia once airport facilities permit.