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AirAsia opens Manila-Bacolod route

AirAsia Flight Z2 603 is welcomed by a traditional "water cannon" salute upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport for AirAsia's inaugural flight to Bacolod

AirAsia, ​the world’s best low-cost airline, added the city of Bacolod to its roster of domestic destinations in the Philippines.

The aircraft for the inaugural flight was welcomed with a water cannon salute upon landing at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, while guests, other VIPs, and members of the Manila media were welcomed by no less than Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and a throng of MassKara dancers and drumbeaters.

At the press conference after the welcome ceremonies. From left are AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Ricky Isla; Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia; Atty. Jomar Castillo, Philippines AirAsia Inc. Chairman; and AirAsia Chief Commercial Officer Gilbert Simpao.

AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricardo Isla said AirAsia is excited to celebrate this milestone. “We’re happy to be here in Bacolod, our second destination in the Western Visayas area and our 12th in the country. We believe that Bacolod will be one of our fastest-selling destinations and we hope to build more flights in the near future.”

He also thanked the airline’s partners in government that because of them, AirAsia is now flying to Bacolod, the so-called “City of Smiles,” especially during the festive occasion of MassKara 2019, which is now on its 40th year. Mr. Isla also noted that they have already booked more than 10,000 passengers who can now experience Bacolod delicacies and meet people with beautiful smiles. “We thank our partners from the national and local government for making this milestone possible, particularly Mayor Leonardia, who took a decisive role in discussions to establish the route.”

AirAsia CEO Ricky Isla

Martin Terre, Manager of Bacolod-Silay International Airport, welcomed AirAsia’s presence that will serve the Negros Occidental flying public. “Our goal is to provide excellent aviation service to Negrenses. With AirAsia now in Bacolod, it is hoped that it will supplement and enhance travel and trade between Negros Occidental and the rest of the Philippines.”

Mayor Leonardia, meanwhile, thanked Rep. Mikee Romero, majority shareholder of Philippines AirAsia, Inc. “We believe having more players will always be healthy for consumers and that is what we expect here. We hope AirAsia will equalize the playing field and we expect them to be a game changer.”

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia during the welcome ceremonies

The mayor expects AirAsia to create a big impact in terms of affordability and availability to make flying a necessity and not a luxury. At present, he said, there are 3,500 rooms in Bacolod and the local tourism industry hopes to add another 500 in a year or two. “We believe it will be enough for the meantime, but of course it will not stop there.”

Philippines AirAsia Chairman Atty. Jomar Castillo said Bacolod is one of the key cities in the Visayas so AirAsia wanted to be here for a long time. “It was both a personal choice and corporate decision to choose Bacolod, our only local destination for 2019. Thankfully, a slot was opened this year.”

Bacolod-Silay International Airport Manager Martin Terre

AirAsia Chief Commercial Officer Gilbert Simpao said AirAsia believes that flying is not just for rich people. “Bacolod was one of the biggest unserved markets so we needed to be here. We want more Filipinos to be able to travel by flying so we want to cover as many areas as we can.”

He said they hope to add 2-3 cities next year if they can get more slots. “If the city is there, the demand is there, then we will fly. AirAsia has the largest network among airlines in the Philippines with about 150 Asian destinations. We would like to replicate that here. Our competition has covered many cities compared to us, but that’s just for now.”

Atty. Jomar Castillo, Philippines AirAsia Inc. Chairman, with Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia

Aside from the inaugural flight, AirAsia also took part in activities at the MassKara Festival, one of the country’s largest festivals, including the Electric MassKara, the Street and Arena Dance Competition and the MassKara Queen pageant and coronation Night.

For the latest news, activities and promotions, follow AirAsia on Twitter (AirAsia), Facebook (AirAsia) and Instagram (@AirAsiaFilipino). For more details, visit

Flight schedule for Manila to Bacolod:

RouteFlight Number Depart Arrive Frequency

Manila-Bacolod Z2 603 8:20 9:40 Daily

Bacolod-Manila Z2 604 10:10 11:30 Daily

Manila-Bacolod Z2 605 16:05 17:25 Daily

Bacolod-Manila Z2 606 17:55 19:15 Daily

Manila-Bacolod Z2 607 19:40 21:00 Daily

Bacolod-Manila Z2 608 21:30 22:50 Daily

AirAsia’s destinations in the Philippines include Bacolod, Iloilo, Caticlan, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, with Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Manila and Puerto Princes as its hubs, and Clark International Airport as its Main Hub.

Photo opportunity after the airport welcome ceremonies. Flanked by AirAsia flight attendants are (from left) Department of Tourism-Western Visayas Regional Administrative Officer Artermio Ticar; AirAsia Chief Financial Officer Ray Berja; Atty. Jomar Castillo, Philippines AirAsia Inc. Chairman; Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia; Bacolod-Silay International Airport Manager Martin Terre; AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Ricky Isla; and AirAsia Chief Commercial Officer Gilbert Simpao.

AirAsia is a leading travel and financial platform company in Asia Pacific that provides air transport, travel and lifestyle service, including financial services. It started as a low-cost carrier with operations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Japan, with more than 600 million guests carried to over 150 destinations in Asia, Australia, the Middle East and the US. AirAsia has been voted the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for 11 consecutive years (2009-2019) by Skytrax, the prestigious international air transport rating organization, and also World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for seven consecutive years (2013-2019) by the World Travel Awards, which acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all sectors of the global tourism industry.

By Rory Visco

Photos By Philippines AirAsia Incorporated

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