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Old September 30th, 2009, 09:39 PM   #1801
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MAS sticks to its order for six A380s
Wednesday September 30, 2009



From left: Datuk Tengku Azmil Zahruddin, MAS senior GM, engineering and
maintenance, Mohd Roslan Ismail, GEC Asia Pacific vicepresident (sales)
Thomas Wygle and chairman/CEO Jeffrey Immelt at the signing- Pic Utusan


Airline expects A380s to be delivered in 2011

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is not replacing its order of six Airbus A380 super jumbo aircraft for smaller wide-body aircraft, said chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Tengku Azmil Zahruddin.

A recent report in a local daily (not The Star) said MAS was considering swapping the A380 orders for smaller wide-body aircraft such as the A330 or A350 due to the decline in air traffic amid a prolonged world economic recovery.

“Although the deliveries of the A380s are delayed, where MAS should have received all six planes by now, we believe there will not be any more slippage.

“We now expect the A380s to be delivered in 2011,” Tengku Azmil said after a signing ceremony with CFM International for CFM engines to be used in the airline’s Boeing 737-800 (B737) fleet.

On the industry outlook, Tengku Azmil said the general business environment would continue to be challenging for the rest of this year and next year.

“But we hope to see recovery in the second half of 2010. For now, recovery is not apparent on the passenger side but cargo is showing some improvement although conclusive data still need to be gathered,” he said.

Under the agreement with CFM International, CFM will provide full support for the engines, which includes technical training, engineering and repair services as well as the provision of spare parts.

CFM International is a joint-venture company between General Electric Co and Snecma from SAFRAN Group.

Tengku Azmil said MAS had placed 35 firm orders and 20 optional orders for the B737 aircraft last year and expected the deliveries to commence in the fourth quarter of next year.

“We may also exercise some of the 20 optional orders in accordance with our fleet growth plan. The B737 will be used primarily for the Asean region, Australia, China, India and domestic operations,” he said.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #1802
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MAS sees growth in Indochina with regional pick-up
Published: 2009/10/01

BANGKOK: With the regional economy slowly picking up and leisure travel on the rise, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) (3786) is seeing positive growth for the highly competitive Indochina market.

Vijayakumaran Avili, MAS area manager for Indochina, said there has been steady improvement in the number of passengers flying with the airline, which offers 75 weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, Phuket, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Yangon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

"The market rebounded fast after the economic crisis. It's a growing economy with big potential for us," he said after hosting a Hari Raya open house in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Malaysian ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob, and Malaysia-Thai Chamber of Commerce president, Yeap Swee Chuan, were among those present.

"Even Myanmar is doing well, with good load in our five weekly flights there. So, we are positioning ourselves to tap the growing demand, with ongoing promotional activities and new offers on the card," he said.

Among the popular ones is the Asean Pass, which consists of four pre-paid ticket vouchers from as low as 8,015 baht (100 baht = RM10.33), for economy, to US$729 (US$1 = RM3.47) (business), and has received good support among frequent travellers, especially businessmen, Vijayakumaran said.

"Travellers concerned with pricing and flexibility are snapping up the offer. They just need to pay extra for airport taxes, and can decide when to use the vouchers," he said.

Vijayakumaran said the popularity of the Asean Pass and the growing number of passengers travelling to Malaysia augured well for efforts to beef up the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as a hub.

"Soon we will launch the MAS Holidays where travellers can book hotels online, with immediate confirmation. Besides Malaysia as a popular destination, many of our passengers from Indochina uses KLIA to travel to Australia and various cities in Europe," he said.

He also said that the Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur route was almost back to normal, with MAS planning to increase its daily flights to four, similar to before the airport closure by anti-government protesters in November last year.

The route has at least 13 daily flights operated by more than three airlines. - Bernama
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 09:19 PM   #1803
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MAS upbeat on operating profit in 2010
By Presenna Nambiar Published: 2009/10/03

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) (3786) expects to make an operating profit next year, as it slashes more non-viable routes and benefits from a recovery in the economy.

"The third and fourth quarter of this year will be tough, but next year, we think we will be able to make an operating profit for the full year," MAS chief executive officer and managing director Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin told reporters in Selangor yesterday.

MAS incurred an operating loss of RM420 million in the second quarter ended June 30 2009.

"The first quarter of 2010 will probably be a challenging one, but we hope the remaining quarters will work out to meet our target of operating profit for 2010," Azmil said.

MAS has cut between 12 and 13 per cent of capacity (available seat kilometre) in the first half of the year, with more expected with the suspension of its Kuala Lumpur-Stockholm-New York route.

The national carrier suspended the route on October 1 2009.

Azmil was speaking at a media briefing held yesterday, following his appointment as the new head of MAS on August 28 2009.

At the briefing, he announced that he plans to accelerate the implementation of the Business Transformation Plan, rather than make any changes to it.

MAS will focus on three core areas of enhancing customer satisfaction, generating revenue and intensifying structural cost reduction.

"This has a two pronged approach - address current operational losses and position the airline for growth," Azmil said.

MAS has identified Asean, Australia, North Asia, China, South Asia and the Middle East as its core network plan for 2010.

On whether there is still a need for the six A380s on order, with a more regional core network, Azmil said the aircraft would be used for its high density routes.

The six A380s to be delivered beginning 2011 will be used for routes such as London, Sydney and Amsterdam.

MAS expects MASKargo, its cargo division, to return to profitability next year, while MAS Aerospace Engineering aims to achieve revenue targets of RM1 billion by 2010 and RM3 billion by 2013.

Azmil said MAS will continue to pursue structural cost reduction with a target of RM700 million this year. Over the last three years, MAS has saved more than RM2 billion.
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 09:33 PM   #1804
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MAS aims to return to operating profit by 2010
Written by Siti Sakinah Abdul Latif
Friday, 02 October 2009 15:17

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIAN AIRLINE SYSTEM BHD [] (MAS) hopes to return to operating profit by 2010 depending on the carriers turnaround plan and global economic conditions, says its CEO, Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin.

To achieve the target, MAS will continue its cost reduction programme, which has managed to save RM2 billion in the last three years and targets saving another RM700 million for 2009.

“There’s always costs to cut ”Azmil said at a briefing in Kelana Jaya as he updated the media on the progress of MAS' business transformation plan. He indicated that the national carrier would continue to pursue cost reductions.

Azmil explains that the 62-year-old carrier inherited a lot but the aggressive cost-cutting measures were to get rid of " 'bad' costs such as those that do not add value or give poor returns".

"A significant portion of our savings is returned to customers in the form of lower fares and better services," he says. "We will continue to invest in 'good' costs such as inflight food, safety and regulatory requirements and to generate third-party revenue", he adds.

Azmil says that MAS had no intention to cut employee salaries, as the cost cutting measures involve the disposal of assets that are not related the company’s core business.

The airline also aims for a 10% reduction in overtime next year, with recruitment taking place only in critical areas.

Meanwhile, Azmil says MASkargo aims to return to profitability next year while MAS Aerospace Engineering plans to achieve revenue targets of RM1 billion by 2010 and RM3 billion by 2013.

MAS has also set up the MH Customer Value Proposition committee headed by Azmil himself to identify extra costs that are a burden to customers and eliminate them.

“The source of the extra cost would keep changing. Customers may want a certain item or service today, but that may change tomorrow. We only want to give the things that customers wants and are willing to pay for,” he said.

Asked what the extra costs were, Azmil says the company is still in the process of identifying them.

On a separate matter, Azmil says MAS would continue to renew its fleet. It will take delivery of 35 Boeing B737-800 aircraft commencing in 4Q2010. It has options on another 20 planes.

"These planes will be deployed in Malaysia, Asean, South Asia and China," he said.

As for high-density routes such as London, Sydney and Amsterdam, MAS will be using the Airbus A380 that will be delivered beginning 2011.

Azmil says that MAS aims to grow its network mostly in the Middle East, China, Asia and Australia region in 2010. He adds that MAS may add new routes but declined to elaborate.
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 09:34 PM   #1805
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MAS records RM2b cost savings in 3 yrs, targets RM700m this yr
Written by Sit Sakinah
Friday, 02 October 2009 13:36

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIAN AIRLINE SYSTEM BHD [] (MAS) recorded RM2 billion in savings in the past three years and is targeting to reduce costs by another RM700 million this year.

MAS managing director and chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said on Oct 2 the national carrier would continue to pursue structure cost reduction.

"There is a lot more room for cost savings," he said at a briefing in Kelana Jaya as he update the media on the progress of MAS's business transformation plan.

Azmil explained that a 62-year-old legacy carrier inherited a lot but the aggressive cost savings measures was to get rid of "bad costs such as those that don't add value or give poor returns".

"A significant portion of our savings is returned to customers in the form of lower fares and better services," he explained. "We will continue to invest in good costs," he added, such as inflight food, safety and regulatory requirements and to generate third party revenue.

He said MASkargo aims to return to profitability next year while MAS Aerospace Engineering aimed to achieve revenue targets of RM1 billion by 2010 and RM3 billion by 2013.

On its fleet renewal, he said it would take delivery of 35 firm B737-800 planes with delivery starting in the fourth quarter of 2010. It has another 20 plans on option.

"These planes will be deployed in Malaysia, Asean, South Asia and China," he said.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 04:38 AM   #1806
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AirAsia delays delivery of 8 more planes
Monday October 5, 2009 By B.K. SIDHU

It is also unwinding leases with GE Commercial Aviation Services and others

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Bhd has received the nod from Airbus SAS to delay delivery of eight A320-200 aircraft originally scheduled for 2011.

This means the low-cost carrier will now defer a third or 16 of 48 aircraft deliveries scheduled for 2010 and 2011, after making a similar move in July when it deferred the delivery of eight aircraft for 2010.

The budget carrier is also unwinding all its leases with GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS) and other lessors for early return of 13 B737.

It will also sell two of its own B737 aircraft in a bid to realign capacity with the increased demand and move towards using one aircraft type for greater efficiency.



“We will defer eight of the 24 deliveries (scheduled) for 2011. We got the deferment from Airbus,’’ AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes told StarBiz.

The deferments will push back deliveries to 2014.

Globally, many airlines have delayed taking delivery of new aircraft due to the sluggish economic conditions and lack of passenger demand.

In AirAsia’s case, Fernandes also attributed the aircraft deferment in 2011 to doubts over the timely completion of the new low-cost carrier terminal.

This is despite assurance from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd the new terminal will be completed on time by the third quarter of 2011.

AirAsia became the largest customer for the Airbus A320-200 in December 2007 after it placed a firm order for a total 175 aircraft, with an option for 50 more. The budget carrier has so far taken delivery of 63 A320s, which are used for its services in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Additionally, it has a fleet of 17 B737s, of which four are its own while the other 13 are leased from GECAS and other lessors.

“We have also closed a deal with GECAS to return nine of the B737s leased from them in stages in 2010 and sell two of our own to Mexico’s VivaAerobus,’’ Fernandes said.

AirAsia is also in talks with several parties to sell the balance two of its B737s and unwind leases for the remaining B737.

He said proceeds from the sale would be used to pay off loans for the aircraft and that the sale would have no impact on AirAsia’s bottom line.

“This alignment will have a huge impact on our Indonesian and Thai operations as they will increasingly be using the A320 instead of B737 and that makes them hugely more efficient,” he said.

“We see the two operations turning the corner and there should be positive upswing in their profits,’’ he said, adding: “We are really bullish on Indonesia and the growth in passenger numbers in the last quarter was very encouraging.”

“Our Indonesian operations have the potential to be as strong as our Malaysian operations and we see stronger revenue growth from our Thai operations,” Fernandes said. “Having two strong affiliates on top of our Malaysian operations puts us in a position of strength.’’

For airlines, the third quarter is usually the weakest quarter but Fernandes said: “AirAsia is seeing better passenger growth.

“We are very pleased with the third-quarter numbers but they will not be as good as the second quarter.”

AirAsia reported a net profit of RM139.2mil for the second quarter ended June 30 on revenue of RM657mil due to improved passenger volumes, higher ancillary income as well as write-backs on certain provisions.

After the company’s private placement of shares last month, Fernandes said the company was targeting RM1bil in reserves by the year-end.

On route expansion, he said plans were in place for the carrier to fly to three routes in India – Coachin, Calcutta and Trivandrum – this year.

“Most of our growth is in new routes but these are not new destinations. It is how we link the dots once we go to a new destination,’’ he said.

Fernandes was recently named Team Principal of 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd, which will participate in the next season of Formula One via Lotus F1.

Asked if his involvement will see him paying more attention to F1, he said: “I am very much on top of things at AirAsia, that’s my baby.’’
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:13 AM   #1807
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MAS Business Transformation Plan To Continue
October 06, 2009 17:41 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 (Bernama) -- The implementation of the Business Transformation Plan initiated by former chief executive officer of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Datuk Seri Idris Jala, is expected to be continued, says ECMLibra Investment Research.

The plan will play a role in positioning the airline as a value five-star carrier in order to compete in a highly competitive environment, ECMLibra said in a note released here Tuesday.

It said MAS'new dual pricing strategy has also seen some degree of success.

Citing the performance of its Europe to Asean sector in the third quarter of this year, it said the company has managed to perform better than its peers with a lower year-on-year revenue contraction.

MAS also recorded a flat year-on-year passenger growth instead of contraction and higher quarter-on-quarter revenue yield.

"So far, forward bookings (for the fourth quarter) seem to be holding up well as compared to the same period last year but yield will continue to be lower due to aggressive fare cutting within the country," it said.

MAS, it said will also continue to adopt competitive fuel hedging despite the adverse effect its current hedges have on the company's financial position.

"On business development, MAS Aerospace Engineering is setting an ambitious target to generate RM3 billion revenue by 2013 as it seeks to create critical mass by growing third party revenue to 60 per cent of total revenue," ECMLibra added.

-- BERNAMA
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Old October 8th, 2009, 05:58 AM   #1808
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AirAsia granted landing rights in Paris
Published: Thursday October 8, 2009 MYT 10:19:00 AM
By CHOI TUCK WO

PARIS: AirAsia Bhd has been granted landing rights in Paris, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said here.

He said this was conveyed to him by French President Nicholas Sarkozy during their meeting at Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday.

“The details will be worked out by the officials later,” he told Malaysian journalists before flying home later Wednesday night.

The French leader had given his approval for the budget airline to land at Orly Airport, southern Paris, barely 24 hours after Najib had raised the matter with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

Najib had noted in that meeting that AirAsia was the Airbus A320’s biggest customer in the world.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 04:21 AM   #1809
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MAS to fly direct to Istanbul
Monday October 12, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines will start thrice-weekly direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul on Oct 25.

Departures from Kuala Lumpur are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. At the moment, the service to the Turkish city is via Dubai.

Malaysia Airlines senior gene-ral manager for network and revenue management Dr Amin Khan said yesterday the airline viewed Istanbul as a great potential destination, adding that MAS also planned to link its network from Australia to Istanbul via Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama
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Old October 12th, 2009, 03:34 PM   #1810
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AirAsia launches first-ever brand campaign
Written by The Edge Financial Daily
Monday, 12 October 2009 15:24

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia is launching what it calls an unprecedented move in a regional campaign this week that positions the world’s best low-cost airline as a high quality, sleek and cool brand.

In a statement, AirAsia said the campaign, themed Have You Flown AirAsia?, aimed at shifting consumers’ mindset of low-cost carriers by showcasing the airline’s innovation, high quality service and unique experience.

Spearheading the campaign will be the television commercial directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad. It will be rolled out across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand on Wednesday (Oct 14) supported by online, outdoor, print and social media presence.

It said a refreshing microsite had also been created (www.haveyouflownairasia.com) to keep the brand relevant and dynamic.

“To stay ahead of the competition, we need to keep our brand fresh. We want our guests to feel good about the AirAsia experience and keep them coming back for more,” AirAsia Group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:06 PM   #1811
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AirAsia settles airport fees
By Presenna Nambiar
Published: 2009/10/13

Airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has confirmed that budget carrier AirAsia Bhd (5099) has paid its outstanding airport fees.

MAHB officials confirmed this yesterday when contacted.

It is understood that the issue, which has dragged on since early this year, was settled at the end of last month.

The budget carrier had withheld about RM110 million in payments to MAHB, claiming that it was being overcharged by the airport operator.

Although it is understood that AirAsia received a discount on the amount owed, the quantum of the discount is not known.
On September 10 2009, AirAsia's chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar, after attending an extraordinary general meeting to approve a private placement of up to 20 per cent of new shares in the budget carrier, said that it had paid more than half of the monies owing to MAHB.

He added that the carrier was still in talks for the remaining sum.

AirAsia's officials could not be reached for comment.

The payment of airport fees was one of the many issues outstanding between the budget carrier and MAHB.

AirAsia has deferred the delivery of 16 of its planes so far, citing doubts over the airport operator's ability to finish the new low-cost carrier terminal on time.

This is despite MAHB insisting that it would be able to meet the budget carrier's deadline, the third quarter of 2011, for the terminal.

The budget carrier successfully raised RM505.4 million in cash last month by selling 16 per cent of its new shares to investors via a private placement.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:19 PM   #1812
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AirAsia X has no plans to sell equity stake
Published: 2009/10/13

AL-AIN (UAE): AirAsia's long-haul, low-cost unit has no plans to sell an equity stake in the carrier, its head said yesterday.

AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani had said in August that the unit was in talks with Middle Eastern investors to help boost its equity base in 2010.

"We don't have any plans to sell a stake and we're not actively looking for investors. We don't need cash at the moment,"Azran told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

Bahrain-based Manara Consortium took a 10 per cent stake in AirAsia X last year. The carrier was launched in 2007 and flies to destinations in China, Australia and the UK from its Kuala Lumpur base.

Last month, parent company AirAsia, Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier by fleet size, raised US$144.4 million (RM491 million) in a new share placement.

Azran also said the airline did not expect to see a loss in the fourth quarter.

"In the fourth quarter, we'll keep our heads above water," he added, saying the carrier's unit costs were lower than rival airlines. "We don't expect to be in a loss-making position.

Yields are still going to be pressured." Azran said the second quarter was the most difficult for the carrier, in terms of pressure on yields and passenger load factors, but volumes picked up in the third quarter.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) trade group said last month that the outlook for global airlines this year had worsened, projecting US$11 billion (US$1 = RM3.41) in losses amid weak passenger and cargo demand.

The industry lost US$8.5 billion in 2008, when record high oil prices weighed on results. IATA said it expects passenger traffic to fall 4 per cent in 2009.

Azran also said the carrier wanted to expand its destinations.- Reuters
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Old October 13th, 2009, 09:05 PM   #1813
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AirAsia X in talks over KL-Oakland service
By Presenna Nambiar
Published: 2009/10/14

LONG-HAUL low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X is in talks with the Americans to launch a Kuala Lumpur-Oakland service, possibly via Taipei or Incheon in Seoul, according to a Standard & Poor's report.

Aviation analyst Shukor Yusof wrote in his note to investors that the Oakland International Airport had confirmed that it was in talks with AirAsia X.

The report said that AirAsia's future forays into France and the US underscore its evolving business strategy of an LCC into a hybrid airline that blends traits of a budget carrier with those of a full- service airline.

Shukor said the Oakland airport was attracted to AirAsia as passengers would be able to connect easily to US LCCs.

"What that means, probably, is that US LCCs might get into the international act, too. JetBlue is one candidate. It has a deal with Lufthansa already. And, in recent weeks, Virgin America announced it had inked a deal with South African Airways," he said.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 07:49 PM   #1814
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AirAsia’s three new daily flights to India
Published: Wednesday October 14, 2009 MYT 2:07:00 PM

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia will start daily direct flights to Kolkata, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) in India from Kuala Lumpur beginning November, the low-cost carrier said in a statement Wednesday.

It will be offering all-inclusive fares from as low as RM129 one-way for the booking period of Oct 15 to 20 to travel between Nov 12 and July 31, 2010 for Kochi; Nov 16 to July 31, 2010 for Thiruvananthapuram; and Nov 19 to July 31 for Kolkata.

AirAsia launched its first Indian route to Trichy, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Dec 1, 2008.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 09:43 PM   #1815
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Thai AirAsia looks to profitable year
By Presenna Nambiar Published: 2009/10/15



AIRASIA Bhd affiliate Thai AirAsia will be making a profit for financial year 2009, its chief says.

"We are definitely making a profit for the year. How much of a profit ... will depend on the load factor in the fourth quarter of the year," Thai AirAsia chief executive officer Tassapon Bijleveld told Business Times on the sidelines of the Frost & Sullivan Growth, Innovation and Leadership Congress 2009 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Both AirAsia's affiliates, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia, saw their cash flow dragged down by exceptional costs totalling RM429 million in the fiscal year ended December 31 2008 due to the unwinding of fuel hedges and interest rate swap contracts.

Thai AirAsia registered losses in the second quarter ended June 30 2009 at RM8.2 million.

It achieved an average load factor of 78 per cent for the last three quarters of the year.

Tassapon attributed this to the four new destinations it started servicing this year.

Thai Airasia expects a load factor of between 82 per cent and 85 per cent for the fourth quarter.

Tassapon also said that the airline was on track to meeting this year's target of 5.2 million passengers.

Thai AirAsia currently runs 16 planes, out of which six are B737-300s. It will have 18 planes by the year-end.

On AirAsia's plans to redeploy new A320s to its Thai and Indonesian affiliates, Tassapon said he was more than happy to receive them.

"AirAsia, being the parent, receives priority on aircraft deliveries. Since they have already got 42, it's our turn now," he said.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #1816
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Malaysia Airlines Eyeing New Mideast Destinations
By Muin Abdul Majid

DUBAI, Oct 15 (Bernama) -- Malaysia Airlines is studying the possibility of adding at least three new Middle Eastern destinations to its network, said regional general manager for Middle East and Africa, Merina Abu Tahir.

She said the national carrier viewed the Middle East as a region showing big potential for growth.

"The Middle East is definitely an area that Malaysia Airlines would want to concentrate on. We're eyeing at least three new destinations," Merina told Bernama here but declined to name the prospective cities.

She said for a start, the award-winning airline would begin thrice-weekly direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul on Oct 25.

At the moment, the service to the Turkish city is via Dubai.

Merina said delinking Dubai from Istanbul would increase the airline's capacity for Dubai as well as Istanbul.

"That's the first step in our growth (plans) in the Middle East, and going forward we're looking for more areas to grow in this region," she added.

Malaysia Airlines operates non-stop flights between Dubai and Kuala Lumpur five times a week, and via Karachi twice a week.

It also offers three weekly flights between Dubai and Beirut, and four weekly flights between Jeddah and Kuala Lumpur.

The airline also has code-share flights from Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Bahrain, Doha and Muscat to Kuala Lumpur.

-- BERNAMA
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Old October 20th, 2009, 12:01 PM   #1817
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MAS' new CEO steers steady course
Published: 2009/10/19

Business Times speaks to Datuk Tengku Azmil Zahruddin about his plans to manoeuvre MAS out of the 'toughest year for the airline industry'

DATUK Tengku Azmil Zahruddin took over the helm at Malaysia Airlines (MAS) on August 28, as the national carrier entered the second year of a five-year Business Transformation Plan (BTP) facing huge challenges and recording operating losses.

KANG SIEW LI, JEEVA ARULAMPALAM and PRESENNA NAMBIAR sat down with the newly-appointed managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) to hear about his plans to manoeuvre MAS out of the "toughest year for the airline industry".

Below are excerpts from the interview:
Question: Are there any routes operated by MAS that are subsidised by the government?


Answer: No. The only routes subsidised by the government are the ones under MASwings. These are the old FAX (Fly Asian Xpress, previously operated by AirAsia) routes. These are not commercial routes and are done more as a social service. For many towns in Sabah and Sarawak, air travel is a very fundamental part of travel because the infrastructure is not there. Those are the only routes subsidised by the government.

Q: Is it possible to make MASwings' routes profitable?

A: Very tough. I don't believe that it is right, in many of the cases, to make them profitable because it is really a lifeline for many of the people there. What is a 45-minute flight becomes a two-week trek through the jungle if the flight is not there. To make money and hike up the fares is not what the government is looking for, and these routes are quite regulated (in terms of fares) by the government. We can try and make them profitable, but I don't think we can achieve the social objective that is intended.

Q: As a national carrier, you have received criticism for cutting certain routes and not operating as many routes as what some quarters want. Can you comment on this?

A: It really depends on what you want. Hypothetically, the government can tell us tomorrow that we don't need to make money but just fly everywhere. (If that happens, you have to) expect us to come every year to the taxpayers for more handouts and the government has to be prepared to subsidise MAS for a long time.

But you cannot instruct a listed company to lose money. As such, we have to anchor our operations based on profit and loss (P&L). If you are not anchored on P&L, you will not work so hard to take costs out and I can guarantee that you will then end up with an airline that is very bloated, slow, unresponsive and self-serving. I'm not sure if people want that airline.

Q: MAS plans to be number one in terms of market share. However, there has been a transfer of passenger volumes from MAS to AirAsia, especially since the economic downturn. How will you achieve your market share target?

A: We believe that people are willing to pay a premium, but there is a limit to how much more they will pay. So we need to make sure that we are taking out the bad costs to close the cost gap so that the fare premium we charge does not have to be much higher than AirAsia's fares. Our fares will be higher because we have different products, but we believe that people will pay more to fly with a full-service carrier like MAS. We don't have to match AirAsia's prices to get market share.

Q: What is MAS' current market share?

A: It's about 50:50 now. Some routes, we carry more passengers; and others, they (AirAsia) carry more.

Q: How do you plan to make an operating profit next year?

A: By doing all the things we are doing (under BTP 2). Aside from cutting costs, we are preparing ourselves for growth when the economy recovers and to be in a position to take advantage of it.

Also, we have kept up on our advertising activities so that our presence in the market is still there. The first thing some people do is to cut advertising. As a result, they lose their presence in the market.
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 09:48 PM   #1818
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MAS to widen reach in China via new partner
From Presenna Nambiar Published: 2009/10/23

SHANGHAI: Malaysia Airline System Bhd (MAS) (3786) has signed a deal to cooperate with China's fourth largest airline Hainan Airlines Group (HNA) to grow its cargo arm's network in China, have a wider presence worldwide and increase its market share.

"Through this partnership we are looking to provide our passengers and cargo with improved connectivity to domestic destinations in China and increase feeder traffic from the Chinese domestic points to our international services," MAS managing director Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said in his speech to attendees at the signing ceremony between HNA Group and MAS here yesterday.

HNA Group is a large corporation with the air transportation a core business and covering other industries of tourism and service, airport management, logistics, hotel management, retailing, finance and other related businesses.

The group has assets valued at RMB150 billion, with a revenue forecast of between RMB35 billion and RMB50 billion by the end of the year.
Azmil said while this was not the group's first partnership in China, it would be able to cater to the many routes that the current partnership did not service.

In 2008, MAS signed a code-share agreement with China Southern Airline for two points in China, namely Beijing and Guangzhou.

"Basically we have come up with a framework for cooperation and now we must sit down and look at each other's network, see how we can integrate the network in terms of belly space and joint services on freighters," Malaysia Airlines Cargo Sdn Bhd managing director Shahari Sulaiman said.

For example, Azmil said, the two companies would look to integrate network services so as to not overlap each other, enabling the two organisations to maximise cargo feeder traffic for both airlines without adding resources.

Currently the HNA group has 15 airlines under its wing, with two freighter businesses, namely Hong Kong Express and Yangtze Express. It has an aircraft fleet of 200 overall, including its freighters.

"This is the type of crisis that makes everybody think about how they can maximise their resources and expand wisely," HNA Group director and HNA Industrial Co Ltd executive chairman Tan Xiangdong said.

Hong Kong Express owns three Boeing 737 freighters, while Yangtze Express owns four 747-400s. Its freighter operations alone carries about 1,300 tonnes of cargo a month.

There are also plans to take in four more 747-400Fs in the next few years.

"The point is, the cargo is not the only area we can collaborate in, there is potential for us to cooperate in other areas as well, considering the broad spectrum of sectors that the group is in," Azmil said.
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 08:02 PM   #1819
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Baby boy delivered on board AirAsia flight
Friday, October 23rd, 2009



FREE FLIGHTS FOR MAKING HISTORY: Proud mother Liew Siaw Hsia holds a
sign that says she and her new-born son are entitled to free flights for life
on AirAsia. They made history with the airline's first in-flight delivery last night.
- Picture by AFENDI MOHAMED


KUALA LUMPUR: A premature baby boy was delivered on board an AirAsia flight on Wednesday night, 30 minutes after the aircraft left Bayan Lepas Airport in Penang.The flight AK5606 was on its way to Kuching but had to reroute to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang when a pregnant passenger told crew members she was in labour pains.

Liew Siaw Hsia, 31, gave birth through the normal delivery to a premature but healthy boy, who became the first born in an AirAsia aircraft.

Edd Razhe, the personal assistant to the AirAsia chairman, said when the pilot was informed of the emergency, he contacted the control tower requesting a reroute to LCCT.

“The ambulance was already at the airport to take the woman and her baby to Putrajaya Hospital,” he said when contacted here, yesterday.

Edd said a doctor only known as Ronald helped deliver the baby. He added although it was an emergency, situation in the aircraft was normal and under control.

AirAsia Berhad chief operating officer Datuk Tony Fernandes, who is in Bangkok, Thailand, would be back in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate the arrival of the first born at Putrajaya Hospital.

AirAsia will provide a lifetime of free flights to both Liew and her son to all destinations. — Bernama
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Old October 25th, 2009, 05:11 AM   #1820
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MAS to upgrade reservations system Oct 31
Published: 2009/10/24

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will be upgrading its reservations system from 11pm Saturday, Oct 31 to noon Sunday, Nov 1.

During this system upgrade, the reservations and ticketing services at its call centres, ticket offices and the web booking facility will be inaccessible.

However, all other services, including check-in, will remain same, MAS said in a statement today.

"The upgrade will take 13 hours, and we are doing this over the weekend to minimise any inconvenience to our passengers," MAS general manager, transition management, Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani said.

To ensure a seamless travel experience, he advised customers to complete all their travel requirements before Oct 31.

"Please book and purchase your flight tickets, make changes to your flight itinerary or make special requests such as meals, seat selection and complete your Enrich online redemption early. Please avoid making any travel transactions
during the upgrade," he said.

Customers are also encouraged to contact the call centre at 1300-88-3000 and provide their mobile numbers to enable the airline to contact them promptly should there be any changes to their flight.-- Bernama
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