So, after a few months since the new airbus landed in Clark last year 2011, AirAsia Philippines finally took to the sky and painted it red last March 28, 2012. Another milestone for AirAsia as the Philippines-branded airbus A320s with an all-Filipino Crew inaugurated its Kalibo and Davao flights. At Clark International Airport, ceremonies were held to mark the occasion with the presence of key persons like Ms Maan Hontiveros and the AirAsia guy himself, Mr Tony Fernandes. Ironwulf.net was there to witness the occasion and join in on their inaugural flight to Davao.
I won’t delve much on the personalities or the people during the ceremonies as I’m sure they are already in the news. But I like the point of Maan saying “AirAsia will be revolutionizing air travel in the Philippines”. Personally, I like the idea of All-in Fares than those so called “Piso or so-so fares” but are ended up with ballooning fee after the hidden charges have been added. Tony Fernandes said that “The Philippines is the last piece in their jigsaw puzzle”, on my side, I think a new airline would be better to shake up the local airline competition where we consumers would benefit.
Birth Pains of a New Born Airline
I was mostly interested with the flight experience. I’m no stranger to AirAsia (they were the first airline I boarded going outside of the country to Kota Kinabalu in 2004) and it was a welcome change to finally see an All-Filipino crew on board. The localized Travel 360 Inflight Magazine (which has improved a lot after a few years) and a chicken adobo meal in the menu sure felt I was flying under the wings of Filipino Hospitality.
But as with any birth, the mother experiences pain, that is to say, not everything is perfect yet. I almost lost my tripod when we arrived at the Davao airport. But thankfully, the AirAsia ground staff found the tripod and was delivered immediately to our hotel just a few hours after we landed. The cabin crew may have first time jitters as they still have room to improve on their service. At this time, I know they are still getting used to the operations and would hopefully be refined in at least a couple of months.
Overnight in Davao
It was rather a short and relaxed stay in Davao. It’s only been my second time here. The afternoon was spent chilling and then a dinner at Ronaldo’s where we had an interesting Durian Sansrival for dessert. Art, of the local DOT Davao, was able to organize a breakfast at Paradise Island. Albeit short, I was glad to step on Samal Island and see for myself the crystal clear waters of their beach even being so close to the mainland. Davao has always been great in terms of fresh fruits and we made sure we took home some Nenita Suha and I bought a couple of kilos of Mangosteen.
Clark Airport and Manila Connection
Probably not an AirAsia side of the business but part of their operation is the Manila connectivity with Clark. I really have no trouble in going to Clark Airport since I live near megamall ortigas where there is a Philtranco Station for Clark. I actually find it easy to avoid the NAIA traffic with at least an hour ride to Clark Airport but my problem is affordability. While there is a way to go to Clark cheaply by hopping on a bus to Dau then a Jeep shuttle, if you have a lot of baggage it would be very inconvenient. A direct bus would be good but I find it expensive for P400 one way (that is P800 roundtrip). I hope they can lower it down. In Malaysia LCCT, with AeroBus or SkyBus I can get in and out of Kuala Lumpur for only RM 14 roundtrip (that’s Php 200!) with lots of frequency per day. I heard AirAsia is tying up with Victory Liner Bus to improve this connectivity. If they would be able to address this, I think a lot would opt to fly in Clark instead.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.