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AirAsia Philippines to mount Cebu-Shenzen flights

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AirAsia aircraft sit on the tarmac at Singapore's Changi Airport January 5, 2016. — REUTERS

PHILIPPINES AirAsia, Inc. is set to launch direct Cebu-Shenzhen flights on May 9, marking the budget carrier’s first route between Cebu City and China.

The local unit of the AirAsia Group said in a statement over the weekend that it will be launching daily flights from Cebu to Shenzhen, China.

Philippines AirAsia CEO Dexter M. Comendador said the route is part of strengthening operations outside Metro Manila and connections from the Philippines to China.

“The addition of our first China route from Cebu hub enables us to further strengthen our network outside Metro Manila and open up new and exciting places to visit this summer. Cebuano travelers would be delighted to experience Shenzhen’s modern metropolis and marvel at how the southern city that links Hong Kong to mainland China built the world’s largest electric bus fleet, massive malls, contemporary buildings and amusement parks,” Mr. Comendador said in a statement.

Shenzhen in Guangdong Province is located in the Pearl River Delta metropolitan area. It is known as “China’s Silicon Valley,” home to some of the top global start-up and tech businesses from China including Huawei, BYD and ZTE.

AirAsia is eyeing to introduce Manila-Osaka flights in the second semester of the year, which will be the first Philippines AirAsia route to Japan.

Philippines AirAsia launched daily flights to the Indonesian cities of Bali and Jakarta in January this year.

The airline has also re-assigned Clark International Airport as its hub.

The airline expects to have 70 planes in its fleet in 10 to 15 years.

Mr. Comendador had said last month that the plan of Philippines AirAsia to launch an initial public offering within the second half of this year may be pushed back given the government’s plan to close Boracay island for six months due to environmental concerns. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo