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AirAsia to Form Philippine Venture With Cojuangco

AirAsia Bhd., Southeast Asia’s biggest budget carrier, plans to form a Philippine unit by the first quarter of next year, Philippine Board of Investments head Cristino Panlilio said.

The Philippine venture will be formed with Antonio Cojuangco, a former chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., and start flying domestic and overseas routes in 2011, Panlilio said by phone today. Cojuangco is President Benigno Aquino’s cousin and a nephew of San Miguel Corp. Chairman Eduardo Cojuangco.

Sepang, Malaysia-based AirAsia may expand into the Philippines as airlines including Cebu Air Inc. increase their fleets and services to meet rising demand in the archipelago. The government has set a target to double tourism arrivals in six years to help spur economic growth.

Today is a national holiday in Malaysia. An e-mail to AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes didn’t immediately receive a reply.

Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd., the budget carrier backed by Singapore Airlines Ltd., on Nov. 23 said it will lease two planes to South East Asian Airlines or SEAir and form a marketing venture to expand into the Philippines.

SEAir flights from Clark, north of Manila, to Singapore will start Dec. 16 and be offered through Tiger Air’s website.

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