AirAsia PH to call back laid-off workers by Q2 2022

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — AirAsia Philippines is looking to rehire former employees by the second quarter as it expects operations to fly high to pre-pandemic levels by early 2022, its top official said Friday.

In a media briefing, AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Ricky Isla said 2022 will be a year of recovery for the aviation industry, both for domestic and international air travel.

To support the expected demand recovery in the sector, the executive said rehiring is the group's "top priority."

"As a matter of fact, hopefully by second quarter [2022] tignan natin papunta tayo diyan [we see that we will be moving in that direction]," he said.

"There will be more aircraft, more destinations, additional destinations or flights so that’s the first thing we will [do] to rehire pilots, cabin crews, engineers, and maintenance people," Isla said.

As the coronavirus crippled air travel operations last year, local airlines were forced to let go hundreds of employees. The low-cost carrier had to lay off over 600 workers.

Ray Berja, AirAsia Philippines chief financial officer, said in the same briefing the group has been recording improvement in passenger load factor across its destinations.

He added this will further be boosted as the government allowed seniors aged 65 and older, and minors from Metro Manila to travel to areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ.

"This December, coming from that recent OCTA research, hopefully we will be able to implement Alert Level 2," Isla said.

"We are looking to a very strong, bright Christmas," the chief added.

By the first quarter of 2022, AirAsia Philippines hopes its domestic passenger volume will rebound to 90% of pre-COVID levels. Before the pandemic, its passenger volume stood at 7-8 million.

AirAsia Philippines' international performance, meanwhile, is expected to recover by the second half of 2022, Isla noted.

The company is eyeing to reopen its regional routes from Manila to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore by December 1.