PHILIPPINE budget carrier Zest Air is capitalising on two of the country's top beach destinations, adding two new routes to China starting end of June to early July.
A Kalibo-Beijing service will be inaugurated on June 26, 2011, while a Cebu-Shanghai (Pudong) service will start operations on July 2.
Kalibo is one of two gateways to the resort island of Boracay. Flights on Zest Air's Kalibo-Shanghai route, which have run twice-weekly since January 24, will also be increased to four times a week starting June 25.
Tour operators would not gain as much from this development as resort and hotel properties in these locations, said Felise Cruz, assistant marketing manager at T.R.I.P.S., a travel agency in Manila. Other outbound travel agencies added that the new routes merely add nominal commissions. They prefer to offer other value-added services instead.
Zest Air chairman Alfredo Yao also revealed this week that the carrier was in negotiations for a Puerto Princesa-Shanghai route with Chinese authorities. The route would support President Benigno Aquino III's campaign to get Puerto Princesa international recognition as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Puerto Princesa is one of 28 global finalists vying for a slot in November.
ZestAir, formerly known as Asian Spirit, has undergone rapid expansion since it changed ownership in 2008. The airline's upcoming destinations include Taipei, Singapore and Palau. It is also in joint venture talks with a Saudi Arabian partner to launch routes to Bahrain and Dammam.
Zest Air has set aside 10 billion pesos (US$230 million) to acquire up to six new aircraft by yearend – four Airbus A320s, as well as two Boeing jets to handle its Middle Eastern flights once the entitlements are settled. The carrier projects that its passenger traffic will increase to three million this year from last year's 1.2 million.