MANILA: The Philippine unit of Asia's biggest low-cost airline, AirAsia Bhd, has agreed to acquire 49 per cent of small-scale regional carrier Zest Airways, as it moves to turn its Philippine business into a money-making operation.
AirAsia, which has moved aggressively into new markets and placed huge jet orders to build a modern fleet, said last month it wants to focus on its core Malaysian, Thai and Indonesia routes, then grow its Philippine and Japanese routes profitably.
Philippines AirAsia Inc, which is 40 per cent owned by AirAsia, will acquire the stake in Manila-based Zest Airways via a share swap.
Both firms declined to give the value of the deal.
Zest has a fleet of only 11 aircraft while AirAsia has more than 100 in service and hundreds more on order.
Zest flies from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila to other towns in the Philippines, plus Shanghai and Taipei.
Philippines AirAsia, which is 60 per cent owned by a Filipino group that includes chief executive Marianne Hontiveros and Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco, competes with budget carrier Cebu Air Inc in the Philippines.
"This strategic partnership is all about growing the market," said AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes. Reuters