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Air Asia to fly Team Pacquiao

Air Asia is flying Manny Pacquiao and his entourage to Macau for his Nov. 23 showdown with New York’s undefeated Chris Algieri, according to the fighter’s Canadian adviser Mike Koncz.

The fast-rising low-cost airline, which is headquartered in Malaysia, will dispatch two planes to General Santos City to pick up Pacquiao, his family, training team and local and foreign-based supporters on Nov. 17.

The two planes, which will have a combined passenger list of a little over 300, will also bring Team Pacquiao back to General Santos City on Nov. 24.

The formal signing of the partnership between Pacquiao and Air Asia, owned and controlled locally by the troika of port impresario Mikee Romero, Tonyboy Cojuangco and Maan Hontiveros, will be held today in General Santos City where the Filipino star has been neck-deep in training the last six weeks.

Flying via private plane or chartered is nothing new to Pacquiao, who often travels around the US and Mexico and China for several promotional tours on jets leased usually by Top Rank chief Bob Arum.

Some two weeks ago, The Venetian (Macau) sent a 12-seater jet to General Santos City to bring Pacquiao and select members of his team to Hong Kong for a gig with the Chinese media.

When he fought twice at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas in 2010, Pacquiao chartered a Boeing 757 to ferry him and his followers from Los Angeles to Love Field in Dallas and back.

Joe Ramos, an aide of Pacquiao, also played a part in the hookup between the renowned fighter and Air Asia, which operates flights in 22 countries.

Tony Fernandes, the big boss of Air Asia, is actually flying to General Santos City today to meet Pacquiao for the first time, according to Ramos.

The British-educated Fernandes, 50, ranks No. 28 on the Forbes list of Malaysia’s richest.

The hookup with Air Asia saved Pacquiao at least $200,000 (P8.99 million) in air fare, according to industry sources.