AirAsia Zest

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AirAsia Zest
IATA ICAO Callsign






FoundedSeptember 1995 (1995-09)
(as Asian Spirit)
Commenced operations
  • April 1996 (1996-04)
    (as Asian Spirit)
  • 30 September 2008 (2008-09-30)
    (as Zest Air)
  • 21 September 2013 (2013-09-21)
    (as AirAsia Zest)
Ceased operations6 December 2015 (2015-12-06)[1]
(merged into Philippines AirAsia)
AOC #2009003[2]
Operating bases
Fleet size15[3]
Parent company
HeadquartersPasay, Metro Manila, Philippines
Key people

Zest Airways, Inc., operated as AirAsia Zest (formerly Asian Spirit and Zest Air), was a Filipino low-cost airline based at 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.

The airline was founded as Asian Spirit, the first airline in the Philippines to be run as a cooperative. After its acquisition by AMY Holdings of businessman Alfredo Yao in 2008, the airline was rebranded as Zest Airways. In 2013, the airline was rebranded as AirAsia Zest and became an affiliate of Philippines AirAsia operating their brand separately.

The airline was merged together with AirAsia Philippines to form Philippines AirAsia in 2015.[5]


Beginnings as Asian Spirit[edit]

Asian Spirit NAMC YS-11 airliner at Sandakan Airport, Malaysia (August 2007)
Logo of Asian Spirit

Asian Spirit was established in September 1995 by Antonio "Toti" Turalba, Emmanuel "Noel" Oñate and Archibald Po, who contributed US$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.[6][7][8]

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 Caticlan Airport, the nearest airport serving 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.

The airline planned to fly to three international destinations to Sandakan, Malaysia from Zamboanga, to Seoul from Kalibo, Laoag, and Davao, and Macau from Angeles City. However these international routings never took off.[9] It also intended to commence international expansion to Bangkok in 2007.[10]

Rebranding as Zest Airways[edit]

Logo of Zest Air
A Zest Air Airbus A320 in 2012

In January 2008, Asian Spirit was sold to AMY Holdings, a holding company controlled by businessman Alfredo Yao.[11] The acquisition was completed on March 29 of that year.[12] After the success of the takeover, Yao expressed interest in merging Asian Spirit with South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR).[13] Yao had been expected to purchase a sixty percent stake in SEAIR,[11] but the merger talks failed and both airlines continued to operate independently.[12]

On September 30, 2008, Asian Spirit announced that it would be re-branding itself as Zest Airways to reflect the stake of the owner, Zest-O Corporation, in the airline.[14] In 2009, Zest Airways intended to establish a hub at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.[15]

Partnership with AirAsia and merger[edit]

AirAsia Zest livery

On March 11, 2013, Zest Airways signed a share swap agreement with AirAsia Philippines. 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.[16] On the same day, the airlines announced a strategic alliance that would integrate the operations of both airlines while still operating as separate entities.[17] The deal closed on May 10, 2013.[18]

On August 16, 2013, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) suspended the airline's air operating certificate due to safety issues.[19] The suspension was lifted on August 20.[20]

Less than a year after the strategic alliance with AirAsia Philippines, on September 21, the airline was rebranded as "AirAsia Zest". 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."[21]

AirAsia Zest eventually merged with AirAsia Philippines in 2015 to form Philippines AirAsia. This merger effectively phased out the AirAsia Zest brand. Both airlines completed the transition to a single operating certificate in September of that year.[22] AirAsia Zest then ceased operations on December 6, 2015.[1]


Zest Airways served the following destinations prior to August 2013, when its operating license was revoked:

Country City Airport Notes Refs
China Chengdu Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport Terminated
Quanzhou Quanzhou Jinjiang Airport
Shanghai Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Hong Kong Hong Kong International Airport Terminated [23]
Macau Macau International Airport Terminated [23]
Malaysia Sandakan Sandakan Airport Terminated
Palau Koror Roman Tmetuchl International Airport Terminated
Philippines (Luzon) Baguio Loakan Airport Terminated
Basco Basco Airport Terminated
Busuanga Francisco B. Reyes Airport Terminated [24]
Cauayan Cauayan Airport Terminated
Clark Diosdado Macapagal International Airport Terminated
Daet Bagasbas Airport Terminated
Laoag Laoag International Airport Terminated
Legazpi Legazpi Airport Terminated [24]
Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport Base
Marinduque Marinduque Airport Terminated [24]
Masbate Moises R. Espinosa Airport Terminated [24]
Naga Naga Airport Terminated
Puerto Princesa Puerto Princesa International Airport
San Jose (Mindoro) San Jose Airport Terminated
Tablas Tugdan Airport Terminated [24]
Taytay Cesar Lim Rodriguez Airport Terminated
Tuguegarao Tuguegarao Airport Terminated
Virac Virac Airport Terminated
Philippines (Mindanao) Cagayan de Oro Laguindingan Airport
Davao Francisco Bangoy International Airport
Dipolog Dipolog Airport Terminated
Jolo Jolo Airport Terminated
Pagadian Pagadian Airport Terminated
Surigao Surigao Airport Terminated
Tandag Tandag Airport Terminated
Tawi-Tawi Sanga-Sanga Airport Terminated
Zamboanga Zamboanga International Airport Terminated
Philippines (Visayas) Bacolod Bacolod–Silay Airport
Calbayog Calbayog Airport Terminated
Catarman Catarman National Airport Terminated
Caticlan/Boracay Godofredo P. Ramos Airport Terminated
Cebu Mactan–Cebu International Airport Base
Iloilo Iloilo International Airport
Kalibo Kalibo International Airport
San Jose (Antique) Evelio B. Javier Airport Terminated
Tacloban Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport
Tagbilaran Tagbilaran Airport
Singapore Changi Airport Terminated
South Korea Busan Gimhae International Airport Terminated
Cheongju Cheongju International Airport Terminated
Daegu Daegu International Airport Terminated
Muan Muan International Airport Terminated
Seoul Incheon International Airport
Taiwan Taipei Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Terminated [25]


AirAsia Zest and its predecessors operated the following aircraft during its existence:[26][27]

Asian Spirit British Aerospace 146 in 2008
AirAsia Zest retired fleet
Aircraft Year retired
Airbus A320-200 2015
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

Accidents and incidents[edit]

As Asian Spirit[edit]

  • 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. The accident forced the closure of the Manila-Cauayan route, which remained closed until Philippine Airlines restarted the route on August 15, 2008.[28][29]
  • September 4, 2002: Asian Spirit Flight 897 was the last flight of the day to Malay, departing Manila at 3:36pm 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.[30]
  • 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.[31]
  • January 2, 2008, Asian Spirit Flight 321, an NAMC YS-11 departing from Manila, overshot the runway at Masbate Airport at 7:30am, 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.[32]

As Zest Airways[edit]

  • January 11, 2009: a Xian MA60 operated crashed at Caticlan Airport while trying to land. 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.[33]
  • June 25, 2009: a Xian 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.[34]

As AirAsia Zest[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "AirAsia Zest Airline Profile". CAPA - Centre for Aviation. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ a b Camus, Miguel (21 October 2013). "AirAsia Zest launches flights to Miri, Malaysia to service OFWs". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  4. ^ "AirAsia Zest names new CEO". ABS-CBN News. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Formerly Called Asian Spirit: What Happened To AirAsia Zest?". Simple Flying. 10 December 2022. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  6. ^ "Asian Spirit History". Asian Spirit Website. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  7. ^ "Asian Spirit". Tony Lopez, ABS-CBN Interactive. Retrieved 20 December 2007.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Asian Spirit: The Niche Player". Makati Business Club. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  9. ^ Amojelar, Darwin G. (13 September 2007). "Asian Spirit to acquire more aircraft for regional expansion". The Manila Times. Manila Times Publishing Corporation. Archived from the original on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Yao Group to acquire Asian Spirit Archived February 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Manila Bulletin, January 21, 2008
  12. ^ a b Arnaldo, Ma. Stella F. (29 March 2008). "Asian Spirit sold for 'around P1B'". BusinessMirror. Retrieved 1 November 2022 – via ABS-CBN News.
  13. ^ "SEAIR, Asian Spirit merger looms; streamlining eyed". BusinessWorld. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2022 – via GMA News.
  14. ^ Carreon, Don Gil K. (30 September 2008). "Asian Spirit now called Zest Airways". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 1 November 2022 – via GMA News.
  15. ^ "Zest Air eyes DMIA as hub for int'l flights". Manila Bulletin. 2 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 August 2009.
  16. ^ "AirAsia to acquire 40% of Zest Air". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  17. ^ "AirAsia, Zest sign 'dream alliance". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  18. ^ "AirAsia now controls Zest Air". ABS-CBN News. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  19. ^ "Zest Air suspended due to safety breaches". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  20. ^ "CAAP clears all 11 Zest Air planes". ABS-CBN News. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  21. ^ Agcaoili, Lawrence (21 September 2013). "AirAsia, ZestAir launch rebranded airline". The Philippine Star – via ABS-CBN News.
  22. ^ Simeon, Louise Maureen (27 September 2015). "Air Asia Zest brand to be phased out". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  23. ^ a b "Asian Spirit flies three international destinations like Incheon, Korea; Sandakan, Malaysia; and Macau" GMA News
  24. ^ a b c d e Turboprop routes axed, Zest Air to cancel 4 routes in May due to MA-60 retirement
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ Zest Air eyes DMIA as hub for int'l flights Archived August 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Manila Bulletin, August 2, 2009. "Zest Air expands route, fleet; plans to fly regional, international | the Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  27. ^ AirAsia Zest -
  28. ^ "ASN Aviation Safety Database". 7 December 1999. Retrieved 7 April 2007.
  29. ^ "Philippines crash claims 17 lives". BBC News. 8 December 1999. Retrieved 7 April 2007.
  30. ^ "ASN Aviation Safety Database". 4 September 2002. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
  31. ^ "ASN Aviation Safety Database". 14 November 2005. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
  32. ^ "Plane overshoots runway in Masbate City". 2 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.[dead link]
  33. ^ "PICTURE: Zest MA60 crashes on landing in Philippines". Flight International. 12 January 2009.
  34. ^ "Philippines' Zest MA60 overshoots runway at Caticlan". Flight International. 25 June 2009.
  35. ^ "AirAsia flight overshoots runway in Kalibo, Philippines". 31 December 2014.

External links[edit]