AP – The Philippine unit of AirAsia has expanded its foothold in the country’s airline market by acquiring 49 percent of local budget carrier Zest Airways Inc.

Philippines’ AirAsia Inc. CEO Marianne Hontiveros said Monday that the alliance will complement AirAsia’s growth strategies. Zest Air operates 11 aircraft on 10 domestic and 10 international routes. It has hubs in Manila, Kalibo and Cebu in the central Philippines, which are major tourist destinations.

Malaysia-based AirAsia started operations in the Philippines in 2012 from Clark airport, a 2-3 hour drive from the capital, while Zest Air operates from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. AirAsia’s routes from Clark include Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Kalibo and Davao in the Philippines.

Zest will get a 15 percent stake in Philippines’ Air Asia.