AirAsia wants travel tax waived in Clark to lure more passengers

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2018 05:28 PM

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga - AirAsia has asked the government to waive travel taxes and grant other incentives for Filipinos who will opt to fly from Clark to help decongest the main airport in Manila, the airline said Thursday. 

The Southeast Asian carrier also said it was transferring its main office to Clark, a former American military base that the government has transformed into an industrial hub.

"We are requesting for the removal of travel tax for Filipinos. Hopefully, we can do that in Clark first para naman maakit sila to fly from Clark," AirAsia Philippines President Dexter Comendador told reporters here.

Filipinos are required to pay a travel tax of P1,600 when leaving the country. 

Comendador said the airline is also counting on the government's "Build, Build, Build" program to make flying from Clark more appealing to travelers. 

"There are prerequisites to that which is the connector roads, mass transit system. So it's [dependent on] how fast the government can build," he said.

AirAsia wants to turn Clark into the country's low-cost carrier hub so that budget airlines would not have to queue along with international carriers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Comendador said.

Last month, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) proposed terminal reassignments for at least 26 carriers at NAIA to decongest the country's main airport.

In 2015, about 150 to 200 flights were delayed daily at the NAIA, airport officials said. NAIA serves about 7.5 million passengers annually, when its capacity is only at 5.5 million. 

AirAsia also intends to make Clark its main hub within 5 years as it increases its fleet size to 72 from 22 within a decade.

"If I add 50 planes, where can I put them in Manila?" he said noting that they are already having problems finding space for their 22 planes in the capital.

The airline is also planning to develop airports in Panglao, Puerto Princesa and Davao as secondary hubs, he said.