AirAsia likely to buy stake in Philippine budget carrier Zest Air

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AirAsia is likely to announce plans to take a stake in Philippines-based low-cost carrier Zest Air.

A spokesperson for AirAsia confirmed with Flightglobal Pro that an announcement on the purchase of a stake in Zest will be made on 11 March, but could not provide details at the time.

Earlier, AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes said on Twitter that he was travelling to Manila for a "big day and statement of intent in [the] Philippines for Airasia".

Media reports say that AirAsia has plans to take a 40% stake in Zest, and is likely merge it with its Philippines AirAsia operation.

Zest's owner, the AMY Group, last year invited bids from rival carriers, including AirAsia and Cebu Pacific to take a stake in the budget carrier. Prior to that, AirAsia and Zest had held discussions over a possible strategic alliance.

Flightglobal Pro data shows that Zest operates a fleet of 10 Airbus A320s, one A319 and four Xian MA60 turboprops. It operates a number of domestic services in the Philippines and services to Shanghai, Jinjiang, Seoul and Busan.

Launched in March last year, Philippines AirAsia is based at Manila's Clark International airport and operates two A320s with a further three on order. AirAsia holds a 40% stake in the carrier, with the remainder held by three local investors.