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Old December 8th, 2008, 06:15 PM   #1381
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MAS pursuing strategic partnerships, MD clarifies
Published: 2008/12/04

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, MAS and Qantas earlier this year started merger talks but were suspended

MALAYSIA AIRLINES PURSUES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER CARRIERS

MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) today clarified that it was pursuing strategic partnerships with a number of airlines, but stopped short of saying it was merging with any of them.

Australian newspapers have been playing up reports of Qantas in merger talks with British Airways, which included additional news that the Australian airline had merger talks with MAS earlier this year.

Responding to the reports, MAS managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said: “We are in talks with a number of airlines on collaborating and creating synergies for growth, ranging from joint ventures and code shares to interlining partnerships.”

For example, he said, the national carrier has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qantas on joint venture on maintenance repair and overhaul.

“In our Business Transformation Plan, we have said we will pursue strategic partnerships to create additional value for MAS.

“This is in line with our vision to transform into The World’s Five-Star Value Carrier,” he said.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, MAS and Qantas earlier this year started talks but were suspended because they could not agree on the merger ratio and governance issues.

Qantas is now in merger talks with British Airways and is said to have committed itself to forging a tie-up with a foreign carrier even if the planned merger falters.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 06:19 PM   #1382
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MAS Airfare Not Expensive, Says Tee Keat
December 04, 2008 19:32 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 (Bernama) -- Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has scoffed off at talk that MAS airfare is expensive.

Dismissing the claim as untrue, he said, the fares were competitively priced as were charged by MAS' competitor airlines.

The rates were adjusted in tandem with market prices, he told the Dewan Rakyat during question time.

"To make MAS fares more competitive, especially with the emergence of low-cost carriers, the national carrier has introduced low fares through the "Everyday Low Fare" promotion campaign," he said.

"The airline will soon launch the "Easy Fare" plan as part of MAS' initiative to offer a varied airfare range for passengers," he said in his written reply to Henry Sum Agong (BN-Lawas) who asked whether MAS would revise its high airfare as the airline had made a successful turnaround and was now making profits.

Ong said MAS launched the "Everyday Low Fare" promotion on May 5 for destinations such as Asean countries, China, South Asia and Australia.

MAS' subsidiary, Firefly, has also launched the plan.

Under the plan, MAS offers a 30 per cent discount on fares and one million seats for free to certain destinations not taken up.

-- BERNAMA
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Old December 8th, 2008, 06:31 PM   #1383
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Merger for MAS looks unlikely
By Presenna Nambiar
Published: 2008/12/05

Malaysia Airlines is seeking partners to grow further but stopped short of saying it is seeking a merger with British Airways and Australia’s Qantas.

“We are in talks with a number of airlines on collaborating and creating synergies for growth. This ranges from joint ventures and code shares to interlining partnerships.

“For example,we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Qantas on a joint venture on maintenance, repair and overhaul,” MAS managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said in a statement yesterday.

Foreign and local newspapers have reported a possible merger of three airlines recently with a local Chinese daily yesterday saying the three carriers have entered into the final stages of talks.

An Australian daily, however, said while there had been talks between Qantas and MAS, the latter is said to have rejected the offer.

Analysts said a merger is unlikely due to political sensitivities, as MAS is considered a national asset.

“The carrier has a strong cash flow and is quite healthy.

“We don’t see that the Malaysian government will see any urgency for the airline to merge with another or two other airlines,” OSK Research Sdn Bhd analyst Ng Sem Guan said.

However, he does not rule out a codeshare agreement between the three airlines.

“Code-share agreements have many variations. So, they could come up with an agreement that would see the three airlines offering each other seats and sharing profits,” Ng said.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 07:02 PM   #1384
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MAS pursues strategic partnerships with several airlines
5 Dec 2008

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines is pursuing strategic partnerships with a number of airlines but did not give a hint if a merger with Qantas is a possibility.

“We are in talks with a number of airlines on collaboration and creating synergies for growth. This ranges from joint ventures and code shares to interlining partnerships,’’ its managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said in a statement yesterday.

He added that “for example, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Qantas on joint venture on maintenance repair and overhaul.’’

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that MAS and Qantas had held merger discussions earlier this year but talks were suspended because the parties could not agree on merger ratio and governance issues.

The newspaper also said Qantas had confirmed it was currently in merger talks with British Airways and had committed itself to forging a tie-up with a foreign carrier even if its planned merger with British Airways failed.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 07:09 PM   #1385
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Tune Air confirms inability to get funding for AirAsia privatisation
05-12-2008:

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd has confirmed that its major shareholder Tune Air Sdn Bhd has been unable to secure financing to fund the privatisation of the low-cost carrier.

AirAsia said on Dec 5 that it had been informed by Tune Air that the latter was “unable to secure financing on acceptable terms and conditions from financial institutions to fund the potential privatisation.”

“Hence, Tune Air is unable to form a firm intention to proceed with the potential privatisation exercise of AirAsia,” it said in a statement released via Bursa Malaysia’s website.

This confirms The Edge Financial Daily report that AirAsia’s proposed privatisation was not taking off as Tune Air had been hampered by limited financing options due to the global credit crunch.

Sources had told the publication that the global economic slowdown, which have seen most of the developed world slipping into recession, had made it difficult for Tune Air to raise money for the purpose.

It was also reported that certain investors who were initially keen to take part in the privatisation of the budget carrier had also turned bearish, deciding now not to proceed with it. The stock fell another five sen to 91.5 sen on Dec 5.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 07:14 PM   #1386
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MAS's cabin crew coveted by many other airlines, says Munir
05-12-2008:

BEIJING: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has had to "fight hard to retain" its cabin crew, who are wanted by many other airlines, said the national carrier's chairman Tan Sri Munir Majid (pic).

"Our cabin crew have been recognised internationally as the best in the world for many years until recently when we were pushed into second place. We are working with great passion to regain the top spot."

"Many airlines want to pinch our cabin crew and we have to fight hard to retain them," he said at the plenary session of the Business Week Annual CEO Forum in Beijing on Dec 5 on Making Talent a Passion.

Munir added that its cabin crew were the company's pride and joy. "This does not mean that we do not value all our other staff, who all support one another, including of course the cabin crew, but as an outward expression and advertisement of our product in the air, they are special and without peer."

He said Malaysia Airlines offered the brand promise of Malaysian Hospitality MH, the airline code, not just for every flight, but at every touch point of dealing with the airline.

"We believe passionately in our work force and want them to realise their full potential, to improve where there are shortcomings, and not to duck when there is repair work to be done. We have to handle complaints, genuine and even from those with ulterior motive," he said.

Munir said "unleashing talents and capabilities" was one of the five prongs of what the airline called the MAS Way to achieve our vision (to be a Five-Star Value Carrier) and mission and to drive its strategy.

He said Malaysia Airlines was one of only six identified five-star carriers in the world. Munir said the company "digs hard and deep into the organisation to provide opportunities for growth".

Munir said the culture of service and performance, measured and recognised, was one of the pillars of the Malaysia Airlines' turnaround success story, which has seen the company achieve nine quarters of uninterrupted growth in the most challenging business environment ever in the history of the airline industry.

In the wider context of human capital development, he was of the view that the work force demanded that their leaders worked hard and gave them more time, and they wanted to see them up close, not hidden away in some plush office.

He said leadership development came not from formalised leadership training, but out of "situations" and during process of work.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 07:43 PM   #1387
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AirAsia: No financing
Published: 2008/12/06

Budget carrier AirAsia Bhd said no firm intention has been formed to proceed with its proposed privatisation exercise.

It told Bursa Malaysia in a filing yesterday that major shareholder Tune Air Sdn Bhd could not secure financing on acceptable terms and conditions from financial institutions to fund the exercise.

It has been reported earlier that it would have cost Tune Air between RM2.14 billion and RM2.22 billion to buy the remaining stake in the airline that it does not own.

Tune Air now holds a 30.72 per cent stake in AirAsia.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 07:18 AM   #1388
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AirAsia X: Airlines with strong models will survive
By Jeeva Arulampalam
Published: 2008/12/08



AIRLINES with the strongest business modesl, be it in the low-cost or premium markets, will be the ones that will survive the current financial market turmoil, says the head of long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X Sdn Bhd.

The turmoil has forced 25 airline carriers to close down so far this year, and many others to cut routes and ground aircraft to mitigate its impact.

"What you are going to see is that the airline industry will polarise (during this crisis), like what we are witnessing in many other industries. The strong premium ones and the strong mass market ones will survive," chief executive officer Azran-Osman Rani told Business Times in an interview recently.

Azran-Osman said airlines caught in between these two categories will suffer as they neither have the strength and scale of a premium airline nor do they have the pricing cost-structure of a low-cost carrier.

Standard & Poor's Equity Research analyst Shukor Yusof agrees that given the on-going financial climate, only the carriers with the right business model will survive while the weak ones will file for bankruptcy next year.

"Airlines due to be hit are those that have been struggling even when conditions were favourable. There are several in emerging markets like Indonesia and Thailand," he said.

While the price of jet fuel has eased tremendously to US$72.2 per barrel as at November 28 2008, it is still considered high for airlines to manage. They also have to deal with decreasing passenger travel and financing difficulties.

Shukor added that budget carriers such as AirAsia and Singapore's Tiger Airways will make it through the rough patch as passenger movements for them remain healthy.

As for Malaysia Airlines (MAS), OSK Research SdnBhd acting head Chris Eng believes that the national carrier can weather the downturn as it provides for both the premium and low-fare market segments.

"Also, MAS is in better stead when compared with Thai Airways because MAS is driven by outbound traffic in terms of Malaysians going overseas, while Thai Airways is dependent on in-bound flights," he said.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 03:37 PM   #1389
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MAS needs to focus on recovery programme
Tuesday December 9, 2008
By LOONG TSE MIN

PETALING JAYA: Weaker economic conditions and a growing number of distressed airlines globally have prompted many to ask if Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plans to buy up airline assets that are now going cheap or consider entering into a merger.

But, while the scenarios are interesting, the airline and the Government may not be ready for such a move.

Recently, there was talk of MAS joining in the high profile British Airways (BA) and Qantas merger talks, but earlier there had even been suggestions that MAS could acquire AirAsia Bhd that is seeking to go private itself.

An analyst covering the airline sector said it might be better for MAS to focus on continuing its recovery before contemplating a merger so soon.

“Having just only completed its restructuring, MAS is still digesting the changes in its operations and has yet to see all the benefits materialise,” he said.

Furthermore, MAS was still quite far away from the profitability of benchmark regional operators like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines (SIA).

“MAS should get closer to those levels (of profitability) before going out and spending money and restructuring operations again,” he said.

At at Sept 30, MAS had about RM5bil in cash in its balance sheet.

It has been said that MAS, with this RM5bil cash, could buy over AirAsia whose market capitalisation was RM2.17bil at Friday’s close.

However, any purchaser of AirAsia or any regional airline would need to be able to finance the purchase of aircraft and daily operations which go many times beyond the carrier’s market capitalisation.

“It’s not just buying the shares, and a single aircraft costs hundreds of millions,” the analyst said.

Another analyst said the RM5bil on MAS books could be “sales in advance of carriage” and so was part of the airline’s working capital and not for use in acquisitions.

Sales in advance of carriage is cash collected from the time the passenger buys the ticket but before he or she takes the flight.

A three-way merger of MAS with BA and Qantas would also be fraught with political hurdles.

The second analyst said: “If it is possible to merge the balance sheets of the three airlines while retaining separate brand and national identities, there might be some benefits.”

However, with MAS having turned profitable last year and still profitable for the nine months ended Sept 30 (with a net profit of RM198.1mil), the national carrier was now a viable business and a merger would mean some loss of ownership and control to foreign parties.

“I don’t think the Government would want to concede control especially of what is now a profitable business to foreign owners,” the analyst said.

“While one such merger, that of Holland’s KLM and Air France has been successful, for many other national airlines in Europe and elsewhere, there have been no takers (for similar proposals),” he pointed out.

Also having streamlined its balance sheet by selling its planes to Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd, MAS has the best balance sheet of the three airlines.

“This means MAS could be at the losing end of a balance sheet merger,” he said.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 03:43 PM   #1390
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TuneAir unable to secure acceptable financing
Saturday December 6, 2008

AIRASIA Bhd’s major shareholder Tune Air Sdn Bhd is not proceeding with the potential privatisation of the low-cost carrier as it is unable to secure acceptable financing.

AirAsia said yesterday it was informed by Tune Air that due to the tight credit market conditions, it was unable to secure financing on acceptable terms and conditions from financial institutions to fund the potential privatisation exercise of AirAsia.

“Hence, Tune Air is unable to form a firm intention to proceed with the potential privatisation exercise of AirAsia,” it said.

The share price closed five sen lower to 91.5 sen yesterday.

Earlier, Bloomberg reported that a takeover by Tune Air was among several alternatives being considered after a local newspaper reported a buyout had been scrapped.

“It’s still an option that’s there, as are other options,’’ chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, who owns about 20% of AirAsia, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday.

He said any bid had always been “subject to market conditions’’.

Fernandes and AirAsia’s other major shareholders in October said they might buy the airline as its stock dropped towards its original listing price of 2004.

While Malaysian Airline System Bhd and Singapore Airlines Ltd are cutting routes, AirAsia is expanding and buying more aircraft, raising concerns it is adding too much capacity amid a global recession.

“Airlines are a risky business,’’ said Damien Horth, an analyst with UBS AG in Hong Kong. “It seems strange to be attempting a leveraged buyout, which adds further risk.’’ He has a “sell’’ rating on AirAsia stock.

AirAsia on Oct 7 said Tune Air might buy all AirAsia shares and de-list the carrier. Tune Air, whose shareholders include Fernandes, owns about 31% of AirAsia, according to Bloomberg data.

The “indicative’’ price for a buyout was RM1.35 a share, AirAsia said at the time.

Fernandes said there was no sign demand was waning in the economic slowdown.

The carrier, as at Oct 31, had taken delivery of 52 of the 175 single-aisle aircraft it has ordered from Airbus SAS.

Fernandes started the airline in 2001 with two airplanes.

“We will have a record fourth quarter,’’ he said, without saying by which measure. We’re not seeing any downturn in passenger numbers. People still want to travel.’’

January bookings are “very strong’’ and those for February “look good,’’ he said.

AirAsia last week reported its first loss since becoming publicly traded due to charges related to foreign-exchange fluctuations and fuel hedging.

The company incurred RM465.5mil loss in the three months to Sept 30 compared with a profit of RM180mil a year earlier. Sales in the period rose 43% to RM658.5mil. — Bloomberg
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Old December 9th, 2008, 03:47 PM   #1391
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Air Asia A330 new cabin

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Old December 9th, 2008, 03:48 PM   #1392
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nazrey View Post
AirAsia X's London Launch
by Amazing AirAsia of flickr

Connecting London - Kuala Lumpur for *Pound Sterling 99: AirAsia Group CEO Dato' Sri Tony Fernandes and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani reveals the London - Kuala Lumpur fare in a ceremony held at London's County Hall

image hosted on flickr


AirAsia X cabin crew posing against the London Eye. The low-cost long-haul carrier affiliate of AirAsia announces its latest route connecting London and Kuala Lumpur in London on 25 Nov 2008.

image hosted on flickr


AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani with the airline's cabin crew on top of a London double-decker bus that is wrapped with AirAsia and AirAsia X branding. AirAsia X, the low-cost long-haul carrier affiliate of AirAsia announces its latest route connecting London and Kuala Lumpur in London on 25 Nov 2008.

image hosted on flickr


AirAsia X cabin crew on top of a London double-decker bus that is wrapped with AirAsia and AirAsia X branding. AirAsia X, the low-cost long-haul carrier affiliate of AirAsia announces its latest route connecting London and Kuala Lumpur in London on 25 Nov 2008.

image hosted on flickr


AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes (7th from left) and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani with the airline's cabin crew posing next to a London double-decker bus that is wrapped with AirAsia and AirAsia X branding. AirAsia X, the low-cost long-haul carrier affiliate of AirAsia announces its latest route connecting London and Kuala Lumpur in London on 25 Nov 2008.

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr
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Old December 9th, 2008, 03:49 PM   #1393
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MAS’ ticket office opens new centre at KL Sentral from Saturday
Monday December 8, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines will integrate ticketing operations for the Klang Valley at KL Sentral in Brickfields from Saturday. Operations at its former head office in Jalan Sultan Ismail will cease.

Senior general manager (network and revenue management) Dr Amin Khan said the move was part of ongoing efforts to consolidate direct distribution channel operations for ticketing and related services at one centralised location.

“This flagship facility is in its final stages of expansion and once completed will be better equipped to cater to the needs of our customers,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“Our premier ticket office at KL Sentral operates daily from 4.30am to midnight and offers a wide range of air travel related services for walk-in passengers.”

These include reservations and ticketing, reissuance of tickets for travel on Malaysia Airlines and MASwings, Internet booking kiosks, Golden Holidays facilities and refunds processing.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 03:34 PM   #1394
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Air Asia's First flight to India

orginally Posted by kg4129 @ Indian Airport Thread

Air Asia's First flight to India Landed @ Thiruchirappali (Trichy)

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Old December 15th, 2008, 07:28 PM   #1395
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Malaysia Airlines Gives New Fare Options For Economy Class Domestic Travel
December 15, 2008 19:33 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 (Bernama) -- Malaysia Airlines is offering four new fare options for economy class travel that will provide customers value and choice while giving them full control of their travel experience.

Its managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the four fare choices, MHlow Fares, MHbasic, MHsmart and MHflex, are currently available for domestic travel.

He said for international travel, the national carrier planned to introduce it in February next year.

Explaining further the new fare options, Idris said MHlow fares offers up to a 70 percent ticket discount and required 30 days advance purchase, MHbasic offers a 50 percent ticket discount and only requires 14 days advance purchase, MHsmart allows a baggage allowance of up to 25 kg and 75 percent Enrich miles accrual while MHflex offers businessmen the most flexible ticket, in providing 125 percent Enrich miles accrual.

"We are all multiple type travelers depending on the occasion and our new fare options have been customised to cater to the different travel needs," he said during a media briefing on the new fare options here today.

In developing the fare options, Idris said Malaysia Airlines had conducted extensive research while benchmarking against the best practices adopted by 21 airlines across the globe.

"We thoroughly researched all the fares options offered by these airlines, looking into what they offered and how it was packaged.

"The four fare options have been packaged carefully to ensure a transparent pricing and benefits to give customers' value for money," he said.

Asked whether Malaysia Airlines had plans to abolish the fuel surcharge, Idris said the national carrier had none for the moment.

He said that Malaysia Airlines had already reduced its fuel surcharge on a case by case basis.

-- BERNAMA
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Old December 16th, 2008, 05:24 AM   #1396
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MAS announces four new economy options
Tuesday December 16, 2008
By LISA GOH

KUALA LUMPUR: Whether you’re a student on a shoestring budget or travelling with your family, Malaysia Airlines has widened the choice with four new economy fare options.

Budget travellers planning their trips well in advance and travelling light, will be happy with the MHlow fares seats discounted from 70% off the full fare. On the other hand, families going on shopping holidays may prefer the MHsmart seats, with discounts from 20%. This fare allows for a higher baggage allowance at 25kg per person.

MAS managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the four MH Value Fares – MHlow fares (20kg baggage allowance), MHbasic (20kg), MHsmart (25kg) and MHflex (25kg) – were specifically designed for specific passengers.

“We made it with different travellers in mind,” he told a press conference after making the announcement for the domestic sector here yesterday.

The MH Value Fares for the international sector will be launched in February next year.

MHflex are full fare seats, while MHsmart seats will have discounts from 20%, MHbasic (discounts from 50%), and MHlow fares (discounts from 70%).

A check on www.malaysiaairlines.com showed that a one-way air ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching costs RM114 on MHbasic, RM304 (MHsmart) and RM379 (MHflex) before taxes.

Travellers, however, have to book their MHlow fares tickets at least a month in advance, while MHbasic and MHsmart tickets will have to be booked more than 14 days and more than seven days before travel respectively.

The different fares also have different purchase requirements and benefits.

“This is not a promotion. It is what we’re embarking on from now on,” Idris said.

When asked how seats would be allocated for the different fares, he said it would be based on past passenger preference.

“There are no specific seats allocated for each fare. It will change according to the market demand, such as when it is peak period or non-peak period.

“Non-peak period will obviously see more low fare seats,” he said, adding that MAS would review the prices daily on a flight by flight basis.

On a separate issue, Idris said MAS had no plans to abolish the fuel surcharge.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 05:26 AM   #1397
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MAS sees new fare options boosting ticket sales
Tuesday December 16, 2008



Datuk Seri Idris Jala (second from left) and MAS senior general manager
network and revenue management Dr Amin Khan during the launch of the
MH Value Fares programme.


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) expects its four new fare options under the MH Value Fares programme to boost ticket sales and revenue going forward.

Managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the new fare choices would either sustain or improve load factor of various routes and increase overall sales.

“There’ll be winners and losers in the current economic environment but I’m convinced that this (programme) will put us in good stead,” he told reporters at the launch of the MH Value Fares yesterday. These fare options are available for economy, business and first class travel.

Although statistics from the International Air Transport Association showed a declining trend for forward ticket sales, MAS’ sales were still “holding up,” Idris said.

“We have to be innovative in times like this and MH Value Fares is a good response to give customers options to choose from,” he added.

The value fares were available for all seats depending on seasonal load factor including peak and non-peak periods, he said, adding that this model would be introduced on international routes by February.

Despite the falling fuel prices, MAS does not intend to remove its fuel surcharge.

“Our fares and fuel surcharge are competitive on route-on-route basis,” Idris said, adding that the airline had saved some RM900mil in costs this year.

The four value fares for economy class – MHlow Fares, MHbasic, MHsmart and MHflex – offer discounts between 20% and 70% depending on the booking period as well as passenger preference.

For example, MHlow offers discount of 70% if customers book more than 30 days ahead of travel while MHsmart fares are up to 20% cheaper for bookings made a week before with a 25kg baggage allowance.

MAS developed the fare options after conducting research and benchmarked them against best practices of 21 airlines worldwide.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 05:30 AM   #1398
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by shendeerzi77

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by caribb

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by Ruby-Tuesday

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Old December 16th, 2008, 09:53 PM   #1399
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AirAsia Offers 100,000 Free Seats In Massive Regional Campaign
December 16, 2008 20:32 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- AirAsia is offering 100,000 free seats from its hubs primarily in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Johor), Thailand (Bangkok) and Indonesia (Jakarta) in its massive regional marketing campaign as part of its initiative to support Thailand's travel, trade and tourism.

The campaign, aptly themed "Get Your Baht To Thailand", "Mai Pen Rai Thailand" and "Same Same Thailand".

The Thailand tourism sector has been severely affected by the declining number of visitors due to the recent political upheaval.

This proactive campaign, initiated by the "People's Airline", is a joint collaboration between AirAsia and Tourism Authority of Thailand to bring back tourists and businessmen by reinstating the core message that it is now safe to travel back to the country.

In a statement Tuesday, AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the airline hoped this campaign will instil confidence among travellers and help boost tourism.

"With close to 800 domestic and international flights weekly to and from various points in Thailand, we are more than confident the country's tourism will bounce back," he said.

The 100,000 free seats allocation include all international flights on AirAsia's route network in Thailand.

Free seats are also available for domestic destinations. The seats also include routes from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket, Chiang Mai and Krabi.

This regional campaign will be launched exclusively online at www.airasia.com for the booking period between Dec 17-19 for travel between Jan 6 and March 31, 2009.

-- BERNAMA
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Old December 16th, 2008, 09:54 PM   #1400
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AirAsia Sees 25 Percent Growth In 2009
December 16, 2008 23:22 PM

BANGKOK, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- AirAsia, Asia's leading budget carrier, is set to achieve 25 per cent growth in passenger traffic this year and is confident of a similar growth in 2009, its Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said.

He said the seven-year-old airline carried 15 million passengers in 2007 and the passenger volume is expected to rise to 19 million by end of this year.

"There is no reason it will be less next year. We hope the passenger traffic can grow between four to five million in 2009," he said after launching the "Mai Pen Rai Thailand" (No Problem) and "Same Same Thailand" campaign Tuesday aimed at restoring confidence in the country's tourism and travel sector after the recent political crisis.

Thailand's tourism industry was badly affected when anti-government protesters closed the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang Airports for eight days recently.

AirAsia is offering 100,000 free tickets from its hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Bangkok and Jakarta.

Present were Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand Phornsiri Manoharn and Thai AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tassapon Bijleveld.

Fernandes said despite the anticipated economic recession next year, he was confident of good business for the airline as more travellers would be looking at short-and medium-haul travels compared to long-haul journeys which are more expensive.

"In fact, we can go more in terms of growth but it is being limited by the number of aircraft. All our 37 planes are well financed up to 2011 and we don't hedge on oil," he said.

Fernandes said the increase in passenger volume was based on its planes to more destinations in 2007, including the planned five routes to India from Kuala Lumpur, and three from Bangkok as well as Bangkok-Bali and Bangkok-Guangzhou which were expected to start in January.

Despite the economic gloom and political upheavals in Thailand, he was confident of overcoming the obstacles as the airline had managed to survive many hindrances like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), bird flu, tsunami and Bali bombings.

"The important thing is aggressive marketing, especially in the Asean region, which has close to 600 million population, but we need more support from the governments in the region," he said.

Citing Thailand as an example, Fernandes said the Airport Authority of Thailand (AOT) should build a low cost carrier terminal (LCCT), similar to Malaysia and Singapore and reduce the 700 baht airport tax which was among the most expensive in the region.

He said Thailand should consider building a LCCT with the capacity of between 10 million and 15 million passengers, adding that AirAsia was willing to invest in it.

On Thai AirAsia badly affected by the airport stand-off, Fernandes said bookings increased to 80 percent in the past week and was confident the Thai subsidiary would break even next year with a full fleet of Airbus, maturity in routes and larger market share.

-- BERNAMA
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