AirAsia Zest

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AirAsia Zest
AirAsia Zest Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedSeptember 1995; 26 years ago (1995-09)
(as Asian Spirit)
Commenced operationsApril 1996; 26 years ago (1996-04)
(as Asian Spirit)
August 2008; 13 years ago (2008-08)
(as Zest Air)
Ceased operationsJanuary 2016; 6 years ago (2016-01)
(merged into Philippines AirAsia)
AOC #2009003[1]
Operating bases
Fleet size15[2]
Parent companyAMY Holdings (Mazy's Capital Inc.)(2008–2016)
Philippines AirAsia
HeadquartersPasay, Philippines
Key peopleMarianne Hontiveros (Chairman)
Joy Cañeba (CEO)[3]

Zest Airways, Inc., operated as AirAsia Zest (formerly Asian Spirit and Zest Air), was a low-cost airline based at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Metro Manila in the Philippines. It operated 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 was Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila.

The airline was founded as Asian Spirit, the first airline in the Philippines to be run as a cooperative. On August 16, 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 because of safety issues.[4] Less than a year after AirAsia and Zest Air's strategic alliance, the airline was rebranded as AirAsia Zest. The airline was merged into AirAsia Philippines in January 2016.


Beginnings as Asian Spirit[edit]

Logo of Asian Spirit

AirAsia Zest was established as Asian Spirit in September 1995 by three friends: Antonio "Toti" Turalba, Emmanuel "Noel" Oñate and Archibald Po, who contributed $1 million each to start up the Airline Employees Cooperative (AEC). They arranged for 36 of their friends, mostly former Philippine Airlines employees, to run Asian Spirit through a salary-to-equity swap deal. The Po family held the majority of ownership.[5][6][7]

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 fledgling resort island of Boracay. To maximise its aircraft utilisation, 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[edit]

Logo of Zest Air

Asian Spirit was sold to AMY Holdings (presently Mazy's Capital Inc.), a holding company controlled by businessman Alfredo M. Yao, in March 2008.[8] 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.[9] Yao had been expected to purchase a sixty percent stake in SEAIR,[10] although the deal fell through because of a stolid response from SEAIR management.[citation needed] The merger talks failed and both airlines continued to operate independently.

On September 30, 2008, Asian Spirit 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 Yao's flagship business Zest-O Corporation. The firm's board approved the name change in August, while the Civil Aeronautics Board approved the switch earlier this month.[when?][11]

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.[12] It also intended to commence international expansion to Bangkok and Singapore from Manila in 2009[13][failed verification] considering establishing a hub at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.[14]

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.[15][16] As of May 2013, AirAsia Zest suspended its chartered flights between Boracay and Taipei because of the political tensions between the Philippines and Taiwan.[17]

Transition to AirAsia Zest[edit]

AirAsia Zest Airbus A320 in Manny Pacquiao livery

Less than a year after the strategic alliance with AirAsia Philippines, the airline was rebranded "AirAsia Zest". AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes announced 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. During its initial phases, ZestAir's 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."[18]

Suspension of air operator's certificate[edit]

On August 16, 2013, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines suspended Zest Air's air operator's certificate due to a series of safety breaches.

Among the violations were:[4]

  • 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.[19]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The head office was at the Asian Aeronautics Hangar in Pasay, Metro Manila.[20]



In December 2015 the AirAsia Zest fleet included the following aircraft:[21][22]

AirAsia Zest fleet
Aircraft In service Passengers
Airbus A320-200 14 180
Total 14

Fleet history[edit]

Asian Spirit British Aerospace 146 in 2008
A Zest Air Xian MA60, 2012
AirAsia Zest retired fleet
Aircraft Year Retired
British Aerospace ATP 2008
British Aerospace 146-100 2008
British Aerospace 146-200 2008
CASA/IPTN CN-235 2008
de Havilland Canada Dash 7 2009
Let-410 2008
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 2008
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 2008
NAMC YS-11 2008
Xian MA60 2013

Incidents and accidents[edit]

As Asian Spirit[edit]

  • 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.[23][24]
  • 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 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.[25]
  • 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.[26]
  • 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.[27]

As Zest Airways[edit]

  • In January 2009, a MA60 operated by Philippine carrier Zest Airways crashed at Caticlan airport while trying to land on January 11, 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.[28]
  • In June 2009, a MA60 operated by Zest overshot the runway while trying to land at Caticlan airport. As a consequence of this accident, the runway was lengthened and a hill that obstructs one of its approaches was flattened.[29]

As AirAsia Zest[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of airlines subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union" (PDF). European Commission for Transport. European Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 17, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Camus, Miguel (October 21, 2013). "AirAsia Zest launches flights to Miri, Malaysia to service OFWs". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  3. ^ "AirAsia Zest names new CEO". ABS-CBN News. May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Santos, M. (August 16, 2013). Zest Air suspended due to safety breaches. - Online News Portal of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  5. ^ "Asian Spirit History". Asian Spirit Website. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  6. ^ "Asian Spirit". Tony Lopez, ABS-CBN Interactive. Retrieved December 20, 2007.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Asian Spirit: The Niche Player". Makati Business Club. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  8. ^ Asian Spirit sold for 'around P1B'[permanent dead link], ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, retrieved April 15, 2008
  9. ^ SEAIR, Asian Spirit merger looms, BusinessWorld, April 14, 2008
  10. ^ Yao Group to acquire Asian Spirit Archived February 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Manila Bulletin, January 21, 2008
  11. ^ Asian Spirit now called Zest Airways[permanent dead link], BusinessWorld, retrieved October 2, 2008
  12. ^ Amojelar, Darwin G. (September 13, 2007). "Asian Spirit to acquire more aircraft for regional expansion". The Manila Times. Manila Times Publishing Corporation. Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2007.
  13. ^ Amojelar, Darwin G. (November 6, 2007). "Asian Spirit joins refleeting bandwagon". The Manila Times. Manila Times Publishing Corporation. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2007.
  14. ^ "Zest Air eyes DMIA as hub for int'l flights". Manila Mulletin. August 2, 2009. Archived from the original on August 17, 2009.
  15. ^ "AirAsia to acquire 40% of Zest Air | Inquirer Business". March 11, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  16. ^ "AirAsia, Zest sign 'dream alliance' | Inquirer Business". March 11, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  17. ^ Amojelar, Darwin G. (May 17, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE | Zest Air suspends flights to Taiwan". Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  18. ^ AirAsia, ZestAir launch rebranded airline | ABS-CBN News
  19. ^ "News5 Everywhere - CAAP, BINAWI NA ANG SUSPENSYON SA ZEST AIR". August 20, 2013. Archived from the original on August 21, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  20. ^ "Company Overview of Zest Airways Inc." Bloomberg Business. Retrieved on September 18, 2015. "Domestic Road cor. Andrews Ave. Asian Aeronautics Hangar General Aviation Area Metro Manila Pasay, 1300 Philippines"
  21. ^ Zest Air eyes DMIA as hub for int'l flights Archived August 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Manila Bulletin, August 2, 2009. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 27, 2011. Retrieved May 25, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ AirAsia Zest -
  23. ^ "ASN Aviation Safety Database". December 7, 1999. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
  24. ^ "Philippines crash claims 17 lives". BBC News. December 8, 1999. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
  25. ^ "ASN Aviation Safety Database". September 4, 2002. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  26. ^ "ASN Aviation Safety Database". November 14, 2005. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  27. ^ "Plane overshoots runway in Masbate City". January 2, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2008.[dead link]
  28. ^ "PICTURE: Zest MA60 crashes on landing in Philippines". Flight International. January 12, 2009.
  29. ^ "Philippines' Zest MA60 overshoots runway at Caticlan". Flight International. June 25, 2009.
  30. ^ "AirAsia flight overshoots runway in Kalibo, Philippines". December 31, 2014.

External links[edit]