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Old September 12th, 2008, 08:44 AM   #1101
rizalhakim
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AirAsia targets half of govt air travel market
by Yong Min Wei
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KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd plans to capture half of the estimated RM500 million government air travel market in the next two to three years with the help of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta).

AirAsia executive vice-president (commercial) Kathleen Tan said the low-cost carrier would leverage on Matta’s 2,000 agents to promote air travel to government servants at an affordable price together with high flight frequencies for domestic and Asian routes.

She also said AirAsia expected government servants to take up some 100,000 seats to various destinations by year-end which would rake in about RM50 million revenue for the September to December period

“AirAsia and Matta will jointly promote the airline’s recently introduced ‘Government Fare Scheme’, which offers government servants between a 20% and 30% discount on our published fares,” she said at a press conference after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between AirAsia and Matta.

The MoU, which was signed by AirAsia chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar and Matta president Ngiam Foon, would see the two working together to promote the scheme. Besides lower fares, the scheme also enables government servants to have Xpress boarding, check-in baggage of 15kg, and hot meals at no extra charge.

Aziz said the agreement would extend AirAsia’s reach further as well as make travel accessible for all. “As the people’s national airline, we are committed to supporting the government’s dedication to keep costs at a minimum,’’ he added.

Tan also said AirAsia would maintain its fuel surcharge rates for the rest of the year, adding that the low-cost carrier only increased the rates this year when crude oil hit US$140 (RM485.80) per barrel.

“Increasing fuel surcharges many times is like a drug. As a low-fare airline, the challenge for us is to get people flying,” she said. Tan added that AirAsia passengers could also enjoy savings for their travel as online check-in baggages and online booking for in-flight hot food items were given discounts.

Meanwhile, AirAsia has for the third year running been voted ‘Best Budget Airline in Asia’ in the recent SmartTravelAsia.com ‘2008 Best in Travel Poll’, which tabulates reader’s perceptions and favourite travel brands. A statement by AirAsia said it garnered the highest percentage of votes at 30% out of 10 budget airlines that made the cut, adding that it outpaced its nearest rival Jetstar Asia with a margin of 12% of votes.

AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said that receiving the accolade reflected the low-cost carrier’s commitment to providing passengers with the best services.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 12:36 PM   #1102
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Wish they could start flights to Moscow ... cause now no direct flight from Malaysia to Moscow, and people really need it, we have to reach Malaysia via Singapore or BKK, hope soon any airliner will start these flights!
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Old September 16th, 2008, 08:01 AM   #1103
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is there any demand? i heard very few business activities between russia-eastern europe with malaysia...

but looking forward to visit those nations..
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Old September 16th, 2008, 09:56 AM   #1104
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Air Asia inaugural flight KL - Manado

Air Asia Inaugural flight KL - Manado

Taken from Manado Post (mdopost.com)
Wisatawan Mulai Ramai
Sep 13, 2008 at 08:27 AM
Penerbangan AirAsia Manado-Kuala Lumpur Mulai Beroperasi

MANADO- Buah atas rencana pelaksanaan even World Ocean Conference (WOC) 2009 di Kota Manado mulai dipetik. Terbukti, geliat pariwisata Sulut mulai ramai menyusul kemarin, ratusan turis mancanegara menginjakkan kaki di Manado.
Mereka turun dari perut maskapai penerbangan AirAsia yang resmi membuka jalur Manado - Kuala Lumpur yang dimulai 12 September.
Pesawat AirAsia dengan nomor registrasi 9M-AFQ landing di Bandara Sam Ratulangi sekitar pukul 11.05 Wita. Penerbangan perdana ini disambut Gubernur Sulut SH Sarundajang didampingi Muspida dan Country Director PT AirAsia Berhad Jafrie Arie.
Penyambutan diawali pengalungan selendang oleh Gubernur kepada semua awak pesawat yang dipimpin Kapten Adrian Jenkins. Saat berada di lobi, para penumpang dijemput dengan suguhan tarian Cakalele. Total penumpang pesawat yang berkapasitas 156 sheet pada kedatangan perdana ini kurang lebih 100 orang.
Air Asia jenis AK 1030 type Airbus 320 ini take off dari Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia pukul 06.40 pagi dan menempuh perjalanan sekitar 3 jam lebih. Kedatangan para turis karena tertarik informasi tentang objek wisata Sulut.
Koid Boon Sek, salah satu penumpang warga Malaysia mengaku telah beberapa kali datang ke Manado. Menurutnya, kehadiran penerbangan direct langsung Air Asia Kuala Lumpur-Manado sangat ditunggu. “Saya seorang instruktur diving yang telah beberapa kali membawa warga Malaysia ke Manado,” ujarnya dengan bahasa Indonesia tertatih.
Ia menambahkan, kedatangannya hari ini hanya selama lima hari. Katanya, ia membawa beberapa kawannya untuk diving di pulau Bunaken. “Dua minggu depan saya akan kembali lagi bersama sepuluh orang turis Malaysia,” tambahnya dibenarkan Zack salah satu turis yang datang bersamanya.
Kata Zack, ia merasakan kesan yang baik dengan kedatangannya yang baru pertama kali ini. “Suasana kota ini sangat menyejukkan, saya suka juga dengan warga di bandara yang murah senyum,” tambahnya.
Ia mengatakan, rencananya ia akan kembali lagi bersama keluarganya saat liburan. Sebab, suasana seperti di sini sangat cocok dengan kebutuhan liburan keluarganya. “Menarik, banyak yang bisa dipelajari oleh anak-anak saya. Terutama budaya dan keseniannya,” tegasnya.
Hal yang sama diungkapkan Theresa Wong. Baru pertama kali bertandang ke Bumi Nyiur Melambai, wanita cantik yang datang bersama suami dan seorang anak perempuannya tersebut terlihat kagum dengan penampilan penari Cakalele. “Seru tariannya, suami dan anak saya sagat menyukainya,” paparnya di samping suami dan anaknya yang terlihat serius menonton tarian.
Ia mengungkapkan, kedatangannya saat ini untuk berlibur. Lanjutnya, informasi yang diperoleh dari beberapa kawannya yang pernah ke sini, Manado sangat menyenangkan. “Yang paling saya tertarik adalah makanan Manado yang terkenal sampai ke Malaysia,” ujarnya dengan bahasa Inggris fasih.
Lanjutnya, keindahan wisata laut adalah yang paling sering didengarnya. “Selain informasi dari teman, saya juga pernah membuka internet dan melihat beberapa daerah wisata unggulan di Indonesia seperti Bali, Lombok termasuk Manado dan Bunaken,” tandasnya.
Menariknya, di antara penumpang, terdapat pasangan pengantin baru asal Kanada, Aran dan Krista. Keduanya baru pertama kali datang. Dan, Manado menjadi pilihan terkhir mereka berdua diantara beberapa pilihan seperti Singapura dan Bali. Keinginan untuk mengetahui wisata kuliner dan bahari membawa mereka ke sini.
Aran mengungkapkan, bulan madunya sangat berkesan karena mendatangi tempat yang belum pernah dikunjungi. “Beberapa kawan saya di Malaysia pernah ke sini, cerita mereka sangat menarik bagi saya,” ujarnya sambil menggandeng Krista, isterinya.
Ia menambahkan, pulau Lembeh adalah lokasi wisata yang sangat eksotis dan cocok untuk bulan madu. “Selain Bunaken, pulau Lembeh juga sering didengarnya saat ia berkunjung ke Lombok beberapa waktu lalu,” ungkapnya.
Tak hanya itu, wisata religi juga ikut menarik perhatiannya. Lanjutnya, kehidupan beragama daerah ini patut dicontohi. “Umat Kristen di daerah ini terkenal sangat taat dalam beribadah dan toleransinya tinggi,” katanya dibenarkan isterinya.
Ia memaparkan, kesan pertama saat di bandara terhadap kota ini membuatnya berkeinginan untuk bisa datang lagi. “Bukan hanya sekali tapi, kedua, ketiga dan seterusnya selalu ke sini,” ujar pria bule itu seraya berharap, bisa lebih banyak lagi penerbangan internasional yang direct langsung ke Manado. Sarannya, dengan promosi dan pelayanan yang baik mampu menjadikan kota ini melebihi Bali. “Potensi wisata yang ada harus dikembangkan, termasuk seni budaya,” katanya menunjuk para penari Cakalele.
Gubernur SH Sarundajang mengaku bangga mulai bergairahnya sektor pariwisata. Ini ditandai dengan masuknya Air Asia yang membuka jalur penerbangan langsung Kuala Lumpur – Manado. Katanya, dengan dibukanya penerbangan langsung dari Kuala Lumpur ini, telah menjadi babak baru untuk mengenalkan potensi pariwisata Sulut, dan terbukanya peluangan kerjasama ekonomi lainnya. Betapa tidak, jika sebelum Air Asia masuk, untuk mencapai Sulut, turis harus mengeluarkan duit yang banyak untuk ongkos transportasinya. “Air Asia sudah mempermudah turis masuk ke Sulut. Kami berterima kasih atas upaya Air Asia memilih Manado sebagai salah satu bandara tujuannya,” imbuh Gubernur, kemarin.
Dengan terbukanya jalur transportasi internasional dengan hadirnya Air Asia ke Manado, tentunya membuka peluang untuk daerah lain di sekitar Sulut, seperti Gorontalo, Maluku Utara, Maluku, dan Papua, yang memiliki destinasi wisata. “Bukan hanya Sulut, tapi daerah lain akan menikmati manfaatnya,” kata Sarundajang..(cw-01)
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:11 AM   #1105
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waaaa...ma kasih yea mas!!!
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:29 AM   #1106
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AirAsia offers 5,000 free seats for Hong Kong route
Published: 2008/09/16




AIRASIA is offering 5,000 free seats in conjunction with the launch of its direct daily flight between Hong Kong and Bangkok on its brand new Airbus 320.

In a statement today, the largest low cost carrier in Asia said the offer was available only online at AirAsia’s website within the booking period from tomorrow until Sept 21 for the travel period from Oct 26 until March 28, 2009.

“The launch of our direct daily flight between Hong Kong and Bangkok will work hand-in-hand with our existing connections, especially our Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur route, and will further strengthen our position in Asean, China and Australia,” the regional head of commercial AirAsia, Kathleen Tan, said.

AirAsia has continued to buck up industry trends with its rapid expansion plans and has grown its regional network considerably in the past months offering leading low cost-service to meet the increased demand from business and leisure travellers alike.



“The Hong Kong - Bangkok route will provide increased access to Thailand for the huge tourism market in China,” she said. For more information log on to www.airasia.com. — Bernama
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #1107
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FYI KL - KK - Manado route previously operated by MH. Due to lack of promotion, the load factor was quite low, operation ceased in 2004. Today AK flies non stop KL - Manado thrice weekly.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:58 AM   #1108
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AirAsia tawar diskaun 90%



AIRASIA menawarkan diskaun tambang murah sehingga 90 peratus atau serendah 90 sen bagi kesemua penerbangan ke destinasi Asia menerusi hab utamanya di Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Johor, Thailand (Bangkok) dan Indonesia (Jakarta dan Bali).

Tawaran itu dibuka untuk tempahan bermula 15 hingga 28 September depan bagi perjalanan antara 6 Januari hingga 31 Julai tahun depan.

Dengan tawaran serendah 90 sen itu, penumpang berpeluang terbang dari Kuala Lumpur ke Singapura atau ke mana-mana destinasi dalam Semenanjung Malaysia, termasuk Langkawi, Pulau Pinang dan Kuala Terengganu.

AirAsia turut menyediakan promosi tambang serendah RM9 bagi perjalanan ke Kuching, Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Labuan atau Sibu.

Dalam kenyataan yang dikeluarkan di Kuala Lumpur semalam, AirAsia berkata, bagi mereka yang ingin melancong dan membeli-belah di Jakarta atau Bangkok serta menikmati keindahan pantai di Krabi dan Phuket, boleh menggunakan perkhidmatan penerbangan AirAsia pada tambang serendah RM9.

“Manakala, mereka yang ingin menjelajah ke Makassar, Manado, Yogyakarta, Surabaya dan Bandung berpeluang mendapat tambang serendah RM49.

“Destinasi lain seperti ke Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Siem Reap, Haikou, Guangzhou dan Guilin juga ditawarkan pada harga RM49,” katanya.

Sementara itu, laluan popular seperti Bali, Hong Kong dan Shenzhen pula di tawarkan pada harga RM90.

Selain itu, kempen promosi tambang murah itu turut membabitkan pengendali penerbangan tambang murah, AirAsia X di mana syarikat itu turut menawarkan tambang serendah RM199 bagi laluan ke Gold Coast, Perth dan Melbourne manakala Hangzhou pula serendah RM90.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 10:28 AM   #1109
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AirAsia takes delivery of its 50th A320
Published: 2008/09/18

The the aircraft will initially be operated on the Jakarta to Batam, Padang, Balikpapan and Denpasar routes

AIRASIA has received its 50th new A320 aircraft from Airbus and it will be operated out of Jakarta by AirAsia Indonesia as part of the growing route network.

In a statement, Airbus said the A320s are steadily replacing AirAsia’s Boeing 737 fleet accross its network, now covering Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

It said for AirAsia’s Indonesian operation, the aircraft would initially be operated on the Jakarta to Batam, Padang, Balikpapan and Denpasar routes.

Altogether, AirAsia has placed orders for 175 aircraft for use by airlines within the group, making it one of the largest customers in the world for Airbus’ best selling single aisle product line.

“We are also delighted to see this partnership between our two companies expand with the addition of a new A320 base in Jakarta,” said Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy. - Bernama
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Old September 19th, 2008, 10:14 AM   #1110
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AirAsia aims to fly to Japan next year
Published: 2008/09/19




The carrier appears to be planning to set airfares for its Japan-bound flights at 50 to 60 per cent lower than those offered by major airlines


TOKYO: Visiting AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said yesterday the Kuala Lumpur-based discount airline intends to launch flight services to Japan in 2009, Jiji Press reported.

Fernandes told a press conference here that the Japanese market has enormous potential, adding that AirAsia hopes to help increase the number of Malaysian tourists to Japan.

The firm appears to be planning to set airfares for its Japan-bound flights at 50 to 60 per cent lower than those offered by major airlines.

To celebrate the launch of Japan flights, AirAsia plans to offer US25 one-way tickets for flights between Japan and Malaysia.



AirAsia is considering launching flights to Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and an airport now under construction in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

The company also hopes to start services to such major Japanese cities as Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka in the future.

AirAsia is the leading low-cost airline in Southeast Asia. — Bernama

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Old September 19th, 2008, 12:58 PM   #1111
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Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchirapalli flight from November 1






— FILE PHOTO: R.M. Rajarathinam

ALL SET: A view of the Tiruchi airport.

TIRUCHI: Air Asia, an international low cost carrier, will enter the Indian market with its first service to the country on the Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur sector, scheduled for launch from November 1.

The airline had obtained the security clearance from Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and is awaiting clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for commencing operations.

A two-member team from the airline, led by Ahmad Ismail, Manager, Standards and New Stations, Air Asia, visited the airport on Thursday for finalisation of the operational and logistical details. They held separate discussions with S. Sreekumar, Airport Director, and T. H. Radhakrishnan, Station Manager, Air India, which will be the ground handling agency.

Speaking to The Hindu after inspecting the facilities at the new terminal building under construction at the airport, Mr. Ismail said the flights on the Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur sector would be a daily service. The airline would deploy an all-economy class Airbus 320, with a passenger capacity of 180, on the route. The flight from Kuala Lumpur would arrive here at 8.55 a.m. and depart at 9.25 a.m. (Airports Authority of India officials at the Tiruchi Airport have already cleared the schedule, sources said). Mr. Ismail said the airline would look to connecting more Indian destinations after the launch of the Tiruchi service. Tiruchi, he said, offered a good potential and the airline would seek to tap the central and south Tamil Nadu market. Meanwhile, airport sources said the state-of-the-art new terminal building, being built at an investment of Rs.70 crore, would become operational by the end of this financial year. Airport sources said Silk Air has also evinced interest in launching services in the Tiruchi-Singapore sector.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 04:59 AM   #1112
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AirAsia to launch flights to Japan
Published: 2008/09/20




TOKYO: AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said on Thursday the Kuala Lumpur-based discount airline intends to launch flight services to Japan in 2009, Jiji Press reported.


The firm appears to be planning to set airfares for its Japan-bound flights at levels 50 to 60 per cent lower than those offered by major airlines.


To celebrate the launch of Japan flights, AirAsia plans to offer US$25 one-way tickets for flights between Japan and Malaysia.


AirAsia is considering launching flights to Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and an airport now under construction in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. - Bernama
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Old September 20th, 2008, 05:36 AM   #1113
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AirAsia to head for Japan next year


TOKYO: Visiting AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes said on Thursday that the Kuala Lumpur-based discount airline intends to launch flight services to Japan next year, Jiji Press reported.

Fernandes told a press conference here that the Japanese market had enormous potential, adding that AirAsia hoped to help increase the number of Malaysian tourists to Japan.

The firm appears to be planning to set airfares for its Japan-bound flights at half the price of those offered by major airlines.

To celebrate the launch of Japan flights, AirAsia plans to offer US$25 (RM87.50) one-way tickets for flights between Japan and Malaysia.

AirAsia is considering launching flights to the Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and an airport now under construction in the Ibaraki prefecture, north-east of Tokyo.

The company also hoped to start services to major Japanese cities such as Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka later. - Bernama
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Old September 22nd, 2008, 04:39 AM   #1114
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AirAsia X: Japan plans on track despite hurdles
Published: 2008/09/22



LONG-HAUL budget carrier AirAsia X said yesterday its plans to fly to Japan were on track despite hurdles, including high airport charges and strict visa rules.

The carrier hopes to launch flights to Tokyo and major cities, including Osaka and Kukuoka, chief executive Azran Osman Rani said.

"We are still optimistic and on track with our plans to fly to Japan next year, but it is subject to so many things being fulfilled," he said.

"We see a lot of potential and it is a market worth pursuing, but it depends on factors like a good airport deal or some progress on the visa rule," he said.



Azran said it was difficult for Malaysians to get a Japanese visa.

"They require air tickets as part of the documents needed to process the visa and our tickets are non-refundable, so it is a setback for us," he said.

AirAsia X was launched in January 2007 and is an affiliate of regional low-cost carrier AirAsia and Virgin Group. AirAsia and AirAsia X share common shareholders, including AirAsia founder and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.

British billionaire Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group has taken a 20 per cent stake in the airline.

Azran said the airline was gearing up to fly to Britain early next year.

"We are looking forward to the Britain route which everyone is talking about," he said. - AFP
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Old September 26th, 2008, 07:50 AM   #1115
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AirAsia X Awarded Worlds Best New Airline 2008


KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- AirAsia X, the low-cost, long-haul affiliate of AirAsia, has made Malaysia proud after being named the winner of the "Best Newcomer" Award at the prestigious 2008 Budgie World Low Cost Airline Awards held last night at the London Queen Elizabeth II Centre.

AirAsia X, whose shareholders include the Virgin Group, was commended for its ground-breaking new business model and excellence in launching its services across Asia Pacific.

AirAsia X beat British Airways subsidiary airline, Open Skies, as well as Jin Air and K-Rabi, to the "Best Newcomer" accolade.

It also received the highest number of nominations among all entries. In total, AirAsia Group was shortlisted in four categories, including "Best Low Cost Airline", "Best Low Cost Airline: Asia Pacific" and "CEO of the Year".


Since its inaugural flight to Australia's Gold Coast in November 2007, AirAsia X has announced daily flights to Hangzhou, China, Melbourne and Perth, with plans to launch services to London as early as next year.

At the ceremony to receive the award, Azran Osman-Rani, CEO AirAsia X, said: "It is a great honour for us to receive this award and be in the same peer group with other winners such as Southwest Airlines, EasyJet and Virgin Blue.

"The recognition of our pioneering model proves that Malaysian companies can succeed in the global marketplace. Were proud to keep the Jalur Gemilang flying high," he said in a statement from London to Bernama Friday.

Azran said despite tough market conditions in 2008, AirAsia X has provided its guests with lowest fares to long-haul destinations many have never had the opportunity to travel before, alongside an enhanced travel experience, including comfortable leather seats and a newly launched "5 star" menu.

"The result has been tremendous and we have already recorded load factors of over 300,000 passengers since inception," he said.

Present was Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO and founder of AirAsia X. The Budgie World Low Cost Airline Awards recognises leaders, innovators and pioneers in the global low-cost aviation industry.

This years awards were judged by renowned industry consultants including John Hanlon, secretary-general of European Low Fare Airline Association, John Strickland, CEO of JLS Consulting, Jay Sorensen, CEO of IdeaWorks and Peter Harbison, Executive Director of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

-- BERNAMA
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Old September 26th, 2008, 09:07 AM   #1116
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AirAsia adds daily direct flights on KL-Singapore route
BERNAMA


KUALA LUMPUR, Fri:

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is adding four more daily direct flights to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route beginning tomorrow.

With these new frequencies, AirAsia will have six daily direct flights connecting the two major cities and hubs in the region now, the airline said in a statement today.

In conjunction with the new flights and celebration of the country’s 51 years of nationhood, AirAsia is giving away 51,000 free seats to its guests.

AirAsia is also waiving the fuel surcharge, so guests will only bear the airport tax and administration cost for the new flights which will start in December. The booking period is from Sept 26-Oct 3 and the travel period from Dec 1-July 31, 2009.

AirAsia Group chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, said these additional flights demonstrate the airline’s commitment to making air-travel convenient and affordable for everyone.

“In addition to that, we strongly believe that this will pave the way for more tourism, investments and that both countries will enjoy the mutual benefits of feeding the traffic between the hubs,” he added.
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Old September 27th, 2008, 08:48 AM   #1117
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More AirAsia direct flights to Singapore from Dec 1
Published: 2008/09/27




AIRASIA Bhd will start flying six daily direct flights to Singapore from December 1.

The four extra daily flights were granted to AirAsia yesterday, after months of lobbying for more flights on the highly profitable route.

In May, AirAsia submitted an application to the Ministry of Transport to increase the number of frequencies to Singapore from two to six flights daily.

Thanking the government for its support, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes in a statement yesterday, said it hopes Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd will assist them in building the world's biggest hub by providing the budget carrier with facilities which are viable for its business model.



He said the airline has been seeing demand of over 90 per cent load factor for the route since its inception last February.

"These additional flights, further demonstrate our commitment to making air travel convenient and affordable for everyone.

"In addition to that, we strongly believe that this will pave the way for more tourism, investments and that both countries will enjoy mutual benefits of feeding the traffic between the hubs," Fernandes said.

To celebrate, AirAsia is giving away 51,000 free seats and waiving the fuel surcharge for those seats. Passengers will have to pay only for airport tax and administration cost.

The offer is valid for the booking period from September 26 to October 3 2008 and for the travel period from December 1 2008 to July 31 2009, and is available only through online booking.
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Old September 27th, 2008, 09:17 AM   #1118
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AirAsia unleashes its X-factor
By CECILIA KOK


Barely a year since the launch of Malaysia’s no frills long haul carrier, AirAsia X has firmly carved a seat for itself in the ever competitive and increasingly challenging market.

IN the city of Gold Coast in Australia, Kuala Lumpur has suddenly become the talk of the town. That is because a new budget airline has emerged in the Aussie city and painted it red with advertisements for “cheap” flights to KL.

AirAsia X Sdn Bhd’s aggressive marketing campaign has resulted in the smashing success of its Gold Coast-KL route that was launched last November. The fact that most of the airline’s Gold Coast passengers are first-timers to the Southeast Asian region is testament to the success of the route.


AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani.

At the same time, an increasing number of Malaysians are choosing Gold Coast as their favourite holiday destination, as evidenced by AirAsia X’s recent survey that shows 67% of its Malaysian passengers are first-timers to Gold Coast.

The Australian city is one of the two destinations to which AirAsia X flies currently from its hub at the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Sepang.

Hangzhou, China, was added to the airline’s stable early this year, and business for the route is fast picking up, according to AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani.

“We attribute this to our pricing strategy that has enabled more people the affordability to travel long haul,” he explains.

Low-cost long-haul, as the business model for AirAsia X, is an extension of AirAsia Bhd’s success with its low-cost short-haul model.

While both airlines share the same brand, uniform and logo, they are maintained as separate entities, with AirAsia X focusing on destinations beyond a four-hour radius from LCCT and AirAsia focusing on the Asian region within a four-hour radius from its KL hub.

Separate entities that belong

AirAsia group founder Datuk Tony Fernandes says the move to keep the two airlines as separate entities is part of a strategy to ensure the best use of capital for the group and the continuous profitability of its Main Board-listed short-haul business.


Fernandes: We fly to where others dare not fly or have given up.
“Being an unproven model, the low-cost, long-haul business is rather risky. But it is a feasible business with tremendous growth opportunities, hence it qualifies for us to put our money on it,” Fernandes explains.

Fernandes and a group of individual investors, including Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun and Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan, collectively hold a 48% stake in AirAsia X.

The other prominent shareholders in AirAsia X include British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, with a 16% stake; Japanese conglomerate ORIX Corp with 10%; and Bahrain-based Manara Infrastructure Fund with 10%. AirAsia holds the remaining 16% stake.

Spreading its wings

At the recent World Low Cost Airline Congress in London, AirAsia X was named the World’s Best New Airline for 2008.

Azran, the man anointed to take AirAsia X to greater heights, shares: “There is clear synergy between AirAsia and AirAsia X. The latter is positioned to bring in passengers from the world over to KL either for a stay or stopover to get connected to the rest of Asia via our sister carrier.”

With this vision in mind, both AirAsia X and AirAsia are continuously expanding their network.


Azran: Clear synergy between AirAsia and AirAsia X.
Come November, AirAsia X would have roped in two new Australian destinations, namely Perth and Melbourne.

On top of that, it plans to increase its frequency on the Gold Coast-KL route from the current four times a week to daily flights by the end of the year, while next year will see the launch of the highly anticipated direct flights to London and some major cities in Japan.

AirAsia X has also set its eyes on the South Korean, Northern Indian and the Middle Eastern markets.

According to Azran, the long-haul budget carrier has also received enquiries from some European and New Zealand airports for the possibility of launching connections with KL.

AirAsia, on the other hand, has on its list 106 new routes to be added to its current list of 60 over the next few years.

Acknowledging that the current market condition presents a challenging environment for many businesses, Fernandes, who is also the CEO of AirAsia, says: “Our group thrives on innovation in disruptive market by taking the opportunities to fly to where others dare not fly or have given up.”

Virgin Management Asia-Pacific CEO and Head of Aviation David Baxby is confident that AirAsia’s strategy in expanding its network could provide the group good prospects for the long term.

He says: “Over the years, AirAsia has shown success in being a visionary company that sees a new market and believes in its potential when others could not see it.”

Take its routes to Bandung in Indonesia, and Hainan in China. Many were sceptical when AirAsia started flying there. Today, Bandung and Hainan are among the company’s fastest-growing markets.

Going against the tide

Another contrarian approach by AirAsia group that has raised eyebrows is the group’s order of 200 new planes from Airbus in spite of the slowing global economy.

“Acquiring new planes is necessary to support the growth of our business on top of us innovating on new routes,” Azran explains.

“If we have not placed our orders earlier, we would not be able to get the planes in time to ply the new routes,” he adds.

The group’s new plane orders include 25 Airbus 330 for its long-haul routes, two of which will be delivered in the next two months in time for the launch of AirAsia X’s new destinations to Perth and Melbourne. Three of the units will be delivered next year and 15 over the subsequent three years.

The remaining new orders of 175 planes are for the Airbus A320 model, 60 of which will be delivered over the next five years, for the short-haul business.

Analysts are concerned with AirAsia’s expansionary mode in the midst of what they view as a shrinking market condition.


“Expanding where demand is falling is a major concern because there is a risk of its ticket sales not matching its capacity growth. Fact is, share prices move according to market expectations, and the current market expectation is rather negative,” says an analyst.

However, some analysts do acknowledge that AirAsia’s strategy has well positioned the group to emerge as one the strongest aviation players once the market condition improves.

“We defy logic. Our view is that people still want to travel in a down market, and they are most likely going to trade down in order to save more money,” Fernandes says.

“Even if our regular customers may cut down on their travel with us, we will gain some new customers who previously use premium flights,” he adds.

The migration of passengers who are price-sensitive has enabled AirAsia group to gain new ground. While the group’s focus has always been on the non-business, leisure sector, it has, of late, seen the increase of business travellers on its flights.

Azran opines that the current environment may hurt airlines in high-cost positions, but AirAsia group is set to benefit from the slowing economy because of its ability to offer comparatively lower fares.

AirAsia believes that most passengers do not have loyalty to any particular brand because their choices depend on ticket prices.

“Therefore, we believe demand for budget travel is here to stay,” Azran says, adding that AirAsia X is currently operating on a positive cash flow because it has already sold tickets for travelling period of up to the middle of next year.

Survival of the fittest

The first half of this year, during which crude oil prices were rising to record levels, was a turbulent period for the aviation industry as a whole. Several low-cost carriers (LCCs) have since ceased operations because of their inability to cope with the high fuel prices. This list includes Hong Kong’s Oasis, Indonesia’s Adam Air and Thailand’s One-Two-Go.

The closure of these airlines is boost to AirAsia’s market share and enhances its position as the ultimate leader in the region’s low-cost sector, says a local analyst.

Bahrain-based Perigon Advisory, which manages the Manara Infrastructure Fund, is confident that AirAsia group has the marketing know-how and X-factor to capitalise on such opportunities that arise from its competitors falling out of the game.

“The group has been able to take its business to successful level because it has a deep understanding and discipline in following its low-cost model,” says Perigon Advisory partner Michael Rodriguez.

AirAsia has managed to ride through the stormy period, with a net profit of RM9.42mil for the second-quarter (2Q) ended June 30, 2008.

The figure represents a 95% year-on-year (y-o-y) decline, mainly due to its high translation loss of RM77mil resulting from the weakened ringgit.

The 65% y-o-y increase in its unit fuel costs from US$86.20 per barrel to US$142.5 per barrel during the period had also eaten into AirAsia’s profit.

On a positive note, AirAsia actually recorded a rise in its passenger numbers by 20% y-o-y from 2.3 million to 2.8 million for 2Q08, despite its average fares rising 16% y-o-y from RM170 to RM198.

Its revenue for the period under review rose an impressive 41% y-o-y from RM432mil to RM608mil.

Nevertheless, the high fuel prices remain a major concern for most investors because fuel represents around 40% to 50% of AirAsia’s cost, and that element alone can determine whether the company makes or loses money, an analyst points out.

To this, Fernandes says: “We always find ways to adapt to the high-cost environment. We are continuously working on improving our efficiency, although we believe we are already operating at very efficient levels”.

He explains that the group’s employment of new planes which are more fuel-efficient for all its routes helps mitigate the effects of rising fuel costs, and its simple business model helps keep its non-fuel costs at minimum levels.

These are factors that have provided AirAsia group the edge over its major rivals, some of which are still using inefficient planes that are as old as 10 to 15 years and operate on a complicated system that requires high maintenance.

In addition, the sharing of resources, such as the online booking platform and cabin crew, between AirAsia and AirAsia X has enabled the group to operate on high economies of scale. This is more to the benefit of AirAsia X, which according to Azran, is on track to achieve profitability by next year.

Azran also reveals that the group has hedged 100% of its fuel at US$115 per barrel for up to the end of the year.

The stumbling block

Hence, come down market and high fuel cost, AirAsia group will go on with its expansionary plan. The only complaint that the group has is its overcrowded main hub at LCCT, which Fernandes claims as posing a real resistance to the group’s growth.

“We have built a world-class business that is growing rapidly, but the infrastructure at LCCT is not catching up,” Fernandes explains.

“Airport is an urgent issue to us because it is a crucial element for us to expand our connectivity. We cannot be successful if we do not have better airport infrastructure,” he adds.

The LCCT in Sepang is currently undergoing an extension to increase its annual passenger capacity from the present 10 million to 15 million.

Scheduled for completion in March next year, the extension is to cater to the growing numbers of budget carrier passengers.

But based on AirAsia group’s expected growth rate plus that of other low-cost carriers that stop at LCCT, the newly installed capacity will again be fully utilised within the next two years.

A new LCCT terminal, with an annual capacity of 30 million, has been proposed by Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd.

Not knowing when exactly the new terminal will be ready, Azran says AirAsia group cannot afford to wait for the new LCCT terminal to be ready.

“We project that our passenger number would to reach 28 million by 2015. If our KL hub cannot cope with our passenger numbers, we may have to end up stopping at other regional airports, which will then be a loss to our country,” Azran explains.

Fernandes says, “the growth of the low-cost airline sector in Malaysia hinges on the support of MAHB, not only in terms of the infrastructure it provides, but also the way it imposes the airport charges.”

According to Fernandes, AirAsia group currently pays higher airport charges in Malaysia compared with the fees that it pays to its other hubs in foreign land, on top of having to endure the under-capacity of the LCCT in Sepang.

Fernandes sees the future of Malaysia’s aviation industry as underpinned by carriers that offer low fares. He points to national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS)’s “Everyday Low Fare” campaign to support his argument.

“It is an acknowledgment that low-cost model works and can bring in the numbers,” he says.

On whether the various promotional campaign and branding strategies launched by other airlines are a major threat to AirAsia group, Fernandes says: “We do not focus on what others do because we believe in our own strategy. And as far as we are concerned, our business has been growing at a healthy pace.”

But what both Fernandes and Azran seek is a level-playing field for AirAsia group. For instance, to be allowed to fly to where the national carrier flies.

Despite having its flight destinations and frequencies severely limited by the Malaysian government under a protectionism policy for MAS in the early days of its operations, AirAsia has over the years built an amazingly strong brand presence in many international markets.

Many observers have attributed AirAsia’s success to the leadership of Fernandes.

‘Culture eats strategy for lunch’

A great strategy will not be effective if there is no team work, says H. Dale Ichida, the managing director for aviation and alternative investments for ORIX Corp.

“AirAsia has the right corporate culture to grow. There is no bureaucracy and Fernandes is easily accessible to his staff members, hence enabling important discussions to take place on the spot. In a competitive environment, corporate bureaucracy can impede growth,” Ichida says.

Virgin group’s Baxby and Perigon Advisory’s Rodriguez also believe that the management philosophy practised by AirAsia group is the key element to its success.

“Fernandes has used his entrepreneurial skills, something which is intangible, to steer the company out of difficult times before, and we believe his management philosophy will continue to promote the growth of the group,” Rodriguez shares.
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Old September 30th, 2008, 03:58 AM   #1119
rizalhakim
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AirAsia to mount more flights to Viet city
Published: 2008/09/30




BUDGET carrier AirAsia Bhd will add weekly flights from its hubs in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City in response to strong demand.

From October 26 2008, it will increase its frequency between Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City from seven to 11 flights weekly.

Bangkok flights will go daily from four to seven flights a week.

To celebrate the additional flights, AirAsia has introduced promotional fares from RM49 one way from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City, with bookings beginning on September 25 to October 10 2008 for travel period between October 26 to July 31 2009.



The fares exclude airport taxes, fuel surcharges and fees.

Fares from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, meanwhile, will start from 699 baht one-way, with bookings from September 29 to October 10 2008, for travel from October 26 to March 28 2009.

"The demand for the existing routes made it clear of the need to introduce additional flights. Kuala Lumpur-Ho Chi Minh City was operating with an average load factor of 86 per cent since the launch of the route in April 2008.

"On the other hand, the Bangkok-Ho Chi Minh City route recorded average 90 per cent load factor," AirAsia commercial regional head Kathleen Tan said in a statement yesterday.

Since April, AirAsia has carried more than 30,000 passengers between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, and more than 50,000 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to the Vietnamese city.

Apart from Ho Chi Minh City, AirAsia has also increased flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bintulu to 11 times weekly, Penang to six daily flights and Bali to five daily flights.

Passengers may book online for promotional fares from as low as RM6 to Penang, RM20 to Bintulu and RM99 to Denpasar from Kuala Lumpur for the additional flights beginning September 26 to October 5 2008 for travel period from October 5 2008 to July 31 2009.

The carrier has also introduced a route between Johor Baru and Denpasar, Bali, operating with three flights per week.

Fares for this new route start from RM49 beginning September 26 to October 5 2008 for travel period from October 5 2008 to March 28 2009.
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Old September 30th, 2008, 06:32 AM   #1120
rizalhakim
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More AirAsia flights to Ho Chi Minh City



KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia has announced additional flights to Ho Chi Minh City from here and Bangkok.

The decision was in response to strong demand for air travel between Ho Chi Minh City and the Malaysian and Thai markets, AirAsia said.

Effective Oct 26, the frequency of flights from Kuala Lumpur will increase from seven to 11 weekly.

There will also be seven weekly flights from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City from the present four.

To celebrate the extra flights, AirAsia has introduced special fares.



It also announced extra flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bintulu (11 times weekly), Penang (six daily flights) and Bali (five daily flights).

It introduced a new destination, from Johor Baru to Bali, with three weekly flights.

For details, visit www.airasia.com or mobile.airasia. com. -- Bernama
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