Zest Air considers retiring MA60s

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Philippine carrier Zest Air is contemplating the retirement of its four Xian Aircraft MA60 turboprops.

"We have a plan to retire the MA60s, but these have not been finalised," says chief operating officer Eliseo Tabora in a call with Flightglobal. "We want to focus on [Airbus] A320s."

The carrier received its MA60s about five years ago, says Tabora. The type is primarily used on four destinations served from Manila: Busuanga, Marinduque, Masbate, and Tablas.

The retirement of the type would likely see the carrier withdraw from these four destinations, and Zest is deciding whether it should sell or lease out the four aircraft.

As to whether Zest will replace the MA60s with new turboprops such as the ATR 72 or Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, Tabora says this will depend on route planning and "market forces".

According to Flightglobal Pro data, Zest also operates 10 A320s and one A319.

In March, Philippines AirAsia announced that it would take a 49% stake in Zest as part of a strategic alliance between the two carriers.

Philippines AirAsia operates two A320s and has orders for an additional three aircraft.