Zest Air to sell 40% stake to foreign airline by end-2012

MANILA, Philippines – Local budget carrier Zest Airways Inc. is firming up a deal to sell up to 40% of the airline to a foreign airline by the end of the year.

“Hopefully, it can be finished within the year,” said Zest Air president Alfredo Yao when asked about the target for the closing of the deal.

About 3 foreign groups, including a Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines Company Limited, have expressed their interest already, Yao said.

“There are two, maybe 3. We are still choosing. There was supposed to be an agreement already with one but then there came along two more. So, there’s going to be a beauty contest,” he added.

He declined to name the two other interested airlines except that they are from within the region.

The former businessman, who transformed himself to leading a budget airline after his success in Zest-O drinks firm, said the foreign partner they will choose should have the financial muscle and the technical expertise.

“Whoever we will end up with should be able to contribute something to Zest Air whether financially or maybe for our IPO (initial public offering), or even help us in servicing our aircraft. It is better to have a partner,” Yao said, stressing that ZestAir can’t do it by itself amid the rising cost of jet fuel and spare parts.

Foreigners are limited to own oly up to 40% in a local airlines.

Zest Air, formerly Asian Spirit, is in its fourth year of operation. Yao said the IPO may take place possibly in the next two years.

That airline has a fleet of 12 Airbus A320 and Yao said they are looking at buying 3 aircraft per year.

In 2011, Zest Air flew 2.3 million passengers, of which 2.1 million are domestic passengers and 200,000 from its international operations. Its revenues reached P6 billion.

On June 11, the officials of the Yao-led airline said they have in the works efforts to “refresh” the airline before its re-launch in the 4th quarter this 2012.

Zest Air, the country’s 4th largest carrier, has been seen as the most vulnerable in an industry with 5 strong and growing industry players.

domestic passengers

However, the Philippines is poised to increase tourist arrivals with targets doubled to 6 million a year by 2016. Airlines have been beefing up their fleet and network to take advantage of the opportunities

Almost 100% of tourists that visit the Philippines arrive by air.

AirAsia ready to transfer ops to Don Mueang Airport from Oct 1

AirAsia has affirmed its readiness to transfer all of its operations to Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand by Oct 1.

In a statement today, the budget airline is confident Don Mueang Airport will be able to accommodate its growing fleet and serve its customers.

TAA Moving

AirAsia has scheduled Oct 1 to relocate as the date when all of its services will be based at Don Mueang Airport. Its flights will retain the FD airline code and original schedules.

“Passengers who are affected by the switch to Don Mueang Airport may alter their flights by either choosing another travel date on the same route either seven days before or after their original travel date, at no additional cost,” the airline said.

“Passengers also have an option to convert the paid flight into credit shell available to be used within the next 90 days. The change options are only available to affected passengers who purchased their tickets before June 26 2012 whose travel dates are from Oct 1 2012 onwards,” it added.

Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld said the airline’s decision to return to Don Mueang Airport was carefully assessed as he noted that the capabilities of the airport are in line with AirAsia’s own growth plan.

“Thorough consideration into transferring to Don Mueang Airport found that the airport’s capabilities, coupled with the Airports of Thailand PCL’s (AOT) assistance measures, meant AirAsia could better manage its cost more effectively and provide passengers with improved service,” he added.

AOT is offering deep discounts on airport fees to airlines that volunteer to relocate to Don Mueang Airport, as part of a plan to ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi International Airport where the utilisation had exceeded its designed capacity.

It was reported that discounts of 95% on take-off, landing and hangar fees at Don Mueang airport will be offered over a two-month period up to October this year when repairs are in progress at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s runway.

Subsequently, the discounts will be at 30%, 20% and 10% every year for the next three years. AOT is reportedly banking on getting AirAsia to shift its operations given the magnitude of its traffic, with a projected eight million passengers this year.

Miracle Thailand debit card for foreigners

The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Krung Thai Bank has launched the “Miracle Thailand” debit card for foreigners.

Miracle Thailand

The price is 100 baht, which includes a package of Krungthai Panich Insurance covering seven-day personal accident insurance for up to 10,000 baht for outpatient treatment, a maximum of 500,000 baht for inpatient treatment, and life insurance of one million baht. The period of the insurance coverage included in the card can also be extended at any Krungthai Bank Currency Exchange booth.

The card holder can top up the amount in the debit card to the maximum value of 30,000 baht at any branch of Krung Thai Bank and its nationwide currency exchange booths.

The card holder can purchase goods or withdraw cash from ATMs anywhere in Thailand without any charges.

When using a foreign ATM in a Thai ATM, the card holder will be subject to a 150 baht fee (In addition to the home bank’s charges). Purchasing a ‘Miracle Thailand’ means that travellers will not need to pay the 150 baht fee for each transaction at an ATM while in Thailand.

The Miracle Thailand card also offers 5%-90% discounts for card holders when shopping at The Mall, Emporium, Siam Paragon, Paradise Park, MBK Center, King Power Duty Free, Siam Park or for services at Siam Niramit and Safari World.

The new Miracle Thailand card is on offer at all branches of the Krung Thai Bank and foreign exchange booths at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.