|Company slogan||The right way to fly|
|Parent company||AirAsia Philippines|
|Headquarters||Pasay City, Metro Manila,
|Key people||Marianne Hontiveros (Chairman)
Joy Cañeba (CEO)
Zest Airways, Inc. operating as AirAsia Zest (formerly Asian Spirit and Zest Air), is an airline based at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, Metro Manila in the Philippines. It operates scheduled domestic and international tourist services, mainly feeder services linking Manila and Cebu with 24 domestic destinations in support of the trunk route operations of other airlines. In 2013, the airline became an affiliate of Philippines AirAsia operating their brand separately. Its main base is Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila.
The airline was originally founded as Asian Spirit, the first airline in the Philippines to be run as a cooperative. On 16 August 2013, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the regulating body of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for civil aviation, suspended Zest Air flights until further notice due to safety issues. Less than a year after AirAsia and Zest Air's strategic alliance, the airline has been rebranded as AirAsia Zest.
Beginnings as Asian Spirit
AirAsia Zest was established as the Asian Spirit in September 1995 by three friends: Antonio "Toti" Turalba, Emmanuel "Noel" Oñate and Sir Archibald Po, who contributed $1 million each to start up the Airline Employees Cooperative (AEC). They invited 36 of their friends, mostly former Philippine Airlines employees, to run Asian Spirit through a salary-to-equity swap deal. Sir Archibald Po family held the majority of ownership.
It started operations in April 1996 with two second hand Dash 7 aircraft servicing only one scheduled commercial route with two flights per day from Manila to Malay, serving the fledging resort island of Boracay. To maximize its aircraft utilization, it introduced new routes to the present-day towns of San Jose, Virac, Daet and Alcantara, and the cities of Cauayan and Masbate, regarded as secondary and tertiary routes by Air Transportation Office, and not serviced by major airlines. In 1997, the cooperative changed to a corporate set-up with the establishment of Asian Spirit, Inc., whose registration was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005.
At the time, Asian Spirit has the distinction of being the first scheduled airline to serve Boracay. Other operators served the airport on a charter basis then. It became the Philippines' fourth flag carrier (after Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines) in 2003.
Transition to Zest Airways
Asian Spirit was sold to AMY Holdings (presently Mazy's Capital Inc.), a holding company controlled by businessman Alfredo M. Yao, in March 2008. After the success of the takeover, Yao expressed interest in merging Asian Spirit with South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR). The two airlines had been in merger talks. Yao had been expected to purchase a sixty percent stake in SEAIR, although the deal fell through because of a stolid response from SEAIR management. The merger talks failed and both airlines continued to operate independently.
On September 30, 2008, Asian Spirit officially announced that it would be re-branding itself as Zest Airways. Reports said the name switch reflected the Yao's stake in the company, as well as an allusion to the flagship business of AMY Holdings: juicemaker Zest-O. The firm's board approved the name change in August, while the Civil Aeronautics Board approved the switch earlier this month.
The airline wanted to fly to three international points to Sandakan, Malaysia from Zamboanga, to Seoul from Kalibo, Laoag, and Davao, and Macau from Angeles City. However these international routings never took off. It also intended to commence international expansion to Bangkok and Singapore from Manila in 2009.
On March 12, 2013, Zest Airways signed a share swap agreement with AirAsia Philippines, a domestic airline with foreign ownership interest. The share swap deal involved exchange of shares between the owner of Zest Airways, Filipino shareholders of AirAsia Philippines, Inc. and AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia. As of May 2013, AirAsia Zest suspended its chartered flights between Boracay and Taipei because of the political tensions between the Philippines and Taiwan.
Transition to AirAsia Zest
Less than a year after the strategic alliance between Philippines AirAsia, the airline was rebranded as "AirAsia Zest". AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes tweeted last September 13 that AirAsia Philippines was moving to Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 4 in Manila after winding down its domestic and international flights in Pampanga. Although the rebranded airline has yet to be formally announced, ZestAir in its website carried an image of an aircraft featuring AirAsia's signature red livery and the Zest title on the body and AirAsia's signature red livery on the tail. The rebranded airline has a new theme; "AirAsia Zest, the right way to fly."
Suspension of Air Operator Certificate
On Aug. 16, 2013, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines suspended Zest Air's Air Operator certificate due to a series of safety breaches.
Among the violations were:
- No qualified Accountable Manager since July 19, 2013
- Failure to check aircraft logs, flight manifest, weather, etc.
- Failure to present to the CAAP the airman license (Aircraft Mechanic License) during ramp inspection
- Series of occurrences that affected several flight operations
- Refueling with passenger on board involving RP-C8989 on August 14, 2013
- Excessive flight duty time case under the enforcement and legal service
On August 20, 2013, it was reported that Zest Air was allowed to fly into the skies again.
|Airbus A320-200||13||5||0||180||Domestic, International||1 leased to Philippines AirAsia. 2 ex Jetblue are stored in SIN.|
|Aircraft||Year Retired||Replaced by|
|BAe ATP||2008||Xian MA60|
|BAe 146-100||2008||Airbus A319-100|
|BAe 146-200||2008||Airbus A319-100|
|de Havilland Dash 7||2009||Xian MA60|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9||2008||Airbus A320-200|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||2008||Airbus A320-200|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||2008||Airbus A320-200|
|NAMC YS-11||2008||Xian MA60|
|Xian MA60||2013||Airbus A320|
The Airbus A320 aircraft were originally delivered to JetBlue Airways in 2003. They were purchased in September 2008 and delivered in December 2008 and January 2009. The aircraft were than repainted in Pinal Airpark in Arizona into Zest Airways livery and the seat configuration has been changed from Y 150 to Y 162.
On June 3, 2009, the airliner ordered 6 more Xian MA60's to be delivered starting October. but the delivery has been delayed for unknown reasons.
On July 11, 2009 RP-C 8989 arrived at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. The A320 MSN 3621 made its first flight on September 12, 2008 under a French registration F-WWIK as was originally ordered by Kingfisher Airlines but was not accepted. The aircraft was subsequently sold to Asiawide Airways Inc. the holding company for all aircraft of Zest Airways owned by AMY Holdings.
On August 2, 2009, the airline revealed that it would be able to mount international flights with the starting delivery of two brand new Airbus 320 in October this year. This is in addition to the first A320 it purchased earlier. The company was eyeing to buy 2 Boeing 767-300 aircraft to bring its total fleet to 11 aircraft by year end, flying to major tourist destinations in the country. This is part of the $150 million second wave of capital expansion. In 2008, the company invested $170 million. This additional fleet expansion never happened.
Following the March 12, 2013 share swap agreement with Philippines AirAsia, a subsidiary of AirAsia Berhad, The airline will retire its fleet of Xian MA60, returning the aircraft to its lessor in China, effectively stopping its Busuanga, Masbate, Marinduque and Tablas routes effective on May 11, 2013. Landing slots for these aircraft will be replaced by Airbus A320's for services to Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Zamboanga. The airline will introduce more Airbus A320's to the fleet ordered by AirAsia Philippines to be painted in AirAsia livery with one already delivered.
Incidents and Accidents
As Asian Spirit
- On December 7, 1999, Asian Spirit Flight 100, a Let L-410, crashed between Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya and Cabarroguis in Quirino, killing all 15 passengers on board and 2 crew. The plane was headed for Cauayan Airport in Cauayan City. The accident forced the closure of the Manila-Cauayan route, which remained closed until Philippine Airlines restarted the route on August 15, 2008.
- On September 4, 2002, Asian Spirit Flight 897 was the last flight of the day to Malay, departing Manila at 3:36 pm for a one-hour flight. During the approach to Malay, the right main gear failed to deploy. The approach was abandoned and the crew decided to return to Manila for an emergency landing. The plane circled for about 35 minutes over Las Piñas City to burn off fuel. The crew then carried out an emergency landing with the right gear retracted on Manila's international airport runway 24. After touchdown the aircraft swerved off the runway onto a grassy area.
- On November 14, 2005, Asian Spirit Flight 587, a BAe-146-200, reportedly hydroplaned and overran runway 04/22, a 4,429-foot (1350 m) long concrete runway at Catarman National Airport. The aircraft came to rest in a muddy rice field.
- On January 2, 2008, Asian Spirit Flight 321, an NAMC YS-11 departing from Manila, overshot the runway at Masbate Airport at 7:30 a.m., due to heavy tailwinds with gusts reaching 14 knots while landing on runway 21. Although none of the 47 passengers were seriously injured, the aircraft was badly-damaged.
- In January 2009, a MA60 operated by Philippine carrier Zest Airways crashed at Caticlan airport while trying to land on 11 January 2009. The aircraft landed too short on the runway, skidded out of control and crashed into a concrete barrier. The aircraft caught fire and suffered extensive damage to its wing, landing gear, undercarriage and one engine. Several passengers were injured in that accident.
- In June 2009, a MA60 operated by Zest overshot the runway while trying to land at Caticlan airport. As a consequence of this accident lengthening of the runway and the flattening of a hill that obstructs one of its approaches was carried out.
- On 30 December 2014,AirAsia Zest Flight 2272, an Airbus A320-216 registered RP-C8972, overshot the runway during landing at Kalibo International Airport. All 159 passengers and crew survived uninjured.  
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