Saturday, November 1, 2008
AirAsia Bhd chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar has not denied this possibility but declined to elaborate on those destinations they were eyeing.
While not specifying the time period to achieve this, he said: "I am sure AirAsia X will look into it.
"But right now, the airline probably does not have sufficient aircrafts (to accomodate the flights)," he told reporters at the launch of the Kota Kinabalu-Singapore route at Terminal 2 of KKIA here Saturday.
Aziz was asked if the airline was interested in introducing long-haul services from KKIA, such as Australian destinations. AirAsia X's inaugural flight was on Nov 2, last year to Gold Coast, Australia.
The airline currently operates with just one A330-300, which undertakes four return flights a week between Kuala Lumpur and Gold Coast, as well as China's Guangzhou.
The long-haul budget airline is 48 per cent owned by Aero Ventures (a venture of AirAsia's chief executive Datuk Tony Fernandes and several of his business associates), followed by 16 per cent by Virgin Group and 16 per cent owned by AirAsia.
AirAsia X has also secured rights to land in China, Korea and West Asia and future destinations, include those in India, the Middle East and Europe.
AirAsia X is expected to launch its second Australian destination which is Perth Airport tomorrow, with six flights a week between the two cities, and services to Melbourne expected from Nov 12.
It is also expected to fly to Britain in the first quarter of 2009.
Its chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar said with 90 per cent of transportation to Sabah via air, it was a crucial destination for AirAsia, with Sabah viewed as a gateway for trade, investment and tourism.
"AirAsia has also assisted in generating various economic opportunities here since its service was launched in Sabah six years ago," he said at the launching of the inaugural AirAsia Kota Kinabalu-Singapore route at Terminal 2 of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, here.
Today also saw the maiden flight for the new route, one of the two new flights from East Malaysia to Singapore launched by AirAsia. The Kuching-Singapore route also commenced today.
The new service, which is expected to address the high demand for air travel between Singapore and East Malaysia, is already proving to be popular with over 10,000 seats quickly sold out since it opened for sale on Oct 21, according to Aziz.
AirAsia will have daily flights for this route with the flight departing from Kota Kinabalu at 6.40pm while the flight from Singapore departs at 9.35pm.
Asked whether AirAsia would consider adding more flights for the Kota Kinabalu-Singapore route, Aziz said this would be considered when there was a demand.
"The route is also expected to bring in more international tourists through Singapore," he added.
Meanwhile, the number of Singaporeans visiting Sabah is expected to increase to 22,000 from 18,000 last year, especially after the launching of the new route and with Jetstar Singapore expected to launch its flight to Kota Kinabalu this month.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, in a speech text read by the Assistant Minister Bolkiah Ismail, highlighted that from January to August this year, Sabah had received 10,624 tourists from Singapore, a slight decrease from 11,659 arrivals in the same period last year.
"The slight decrease may be due to the current economic crisis and rising cost of travelling, but we are optimistic of drawing 22,000 Singaporean tourists to Sabah by the year end," said Masidi.
AZRAN Osman Rani doesn't want his customers to compare AirAsia X aircraft with cars.
"What's right for our business is right for the environment," he stressed. He sees resource use as the key environmental issue. For AirAsia X, that means fuel.
"Cutting fuel is ingrained in our culture," said Azran, with staff contributing ideas. "We have looked at every kilogramme of the plane."
After noticing that most passengers don't use footrests, for example, the airline asked Airbus to leave them out of the custom-designed new wide-body long-range aircraft. A paperless cockpit also reduces weight, as do lighter trolleys.
The engines are washed every couple of months, reducing drag -- and cutting fuel consumption by 1.5 per cent.
And with passengers booking their meals online, in advance, AirAsia X avoids carrying too much food and drinks. Raising the level of efficiency allows the airline to operate with nine crew per flight, as compared with 14 on other airlines. Again, that reduces weight.
"We are not paying lip service like the carbon offset programme, which does not change what the airline does but asks customers if they want to pay for the 'cost' of carbon emission," Azran said.
"They are saying that if passengers are concerned, they can pay and the airline will use that for planting trees. However, the net carbon emission is the same."
The new European Union emissions trading scheme will include all flights into the region from 2012. Azran had noted recently that since AirAsia X does not have a baseline (an average from 2004 through 2006), it would be accorded a special reserve of free allowances of up to a limit of one million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
If it exceeds that carbon footprint, it will then have to purchase carbon credits to offset the increase. "We'll have the lowest carbon footprint," argued the CEO, "which is better for your conscience than flying a bigger plane and paying carbon offset."
Meanwhile, Bernama reports that AirAsia Berhad group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes sees a silver lining in the current global financial crisis for the low-cost airliner which has survived past turbulence.
"We have gone through SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), terrorism, the bird flu, Bali bombing. The worst was SARS but we found a way to get out of it," he said.
"During the health scare in 2003, there was no demand in passenger traffic. But we were able to create demand. With our business model, which has been successful to date, we managed to sell 5,000 seats during the SARS outbreak.
Despite the current financial crisis, Fernandes said AirAsia was not cutting down on expenditure nor was it slowing down on growth.
"We are in fact talking about accelerating our orders for the remaining 24. We are looking at a few more. Now is the right opportunity to grow while everyone else is cutting back and Airbus has the capacity."
"We have gone through SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), terrorism, the bird flu, Bali bombing. The worse was SARS but we found a way to get out of it," he said.
"During the health scare in 2003, there was no demand in passenger traffic. But we were able to create demand. With our business model, which has been successful to date, we managed to sell 5,000 seats during the SARS outbreak," said Fernandes at a press conference here Thursday.
He was here to witness the handing over of the first delivery of the first brand new A330 aircraft to AirAsia X, its low-cost long haul affiliate on Friday.
Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Kiat will be guest-of-honour at the ceremony.
The handover marks the first deliver of an order AirAsia X placed for 25 Airbus A330 aircraft earlier this year, and comes just weeks after AirAsia switched its entire Malaysian operations to an all Airbus A320 fleet.
Despite the current financial crisis, Fernandes said AirAsia was not cutting down on expenditure nor was it slowing down on growth.
"We are in fact talking about accelerating our orders for the remaining 24. We are looking at a few more," he said.
"Now is the right opportunity to grow while everyone else is cutting back and Airbus has the capacity. We can get sooner," he told the Malaysian media.
Also present were AirAsia X chairman Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan and chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani.
Earlier at a media briefing, Airbus regional communications Asia manager Sean Lee said the second A330 aircraft was scheduled to be delivered to AirAsia X by the end of this year with the entire fleet of 25 airplanes to be delivered by 2013.
Lee said since 2005, AirAsia has ordered 225 aircraft worth US$6.3 billion (list price) from Airbus, with each A320 and A330 costing US$77 million and US$200 million respectively.
AirAsia X CFO Andrew Littledale last night accepted the 2008 Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Best New Airline of the Year Award at the CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence held at Singapore’s Raffles City Convention Centre. The ceremony was held in conjunction with the Aviation Outlook Asia Summit.
Commencing operations last November, AirAsia X’s rise follows the success of its parent company AirAsia which won the Best Airline award in 2007.
The CAPA award recognises AirAsia X’s significant contribution to the aviation industry in the region by way of its competitive airfares, growing network and market leading product and services.
"The success of AirAsia X rides on the back of affiliate AirAsia’s leading regional network in Southeast Asia and China, where passengers have access to more than 105 routes and the highest daily flight frequencies to most Asian cities," AirAsia X said.
Its rapidly expanding international route network now includes five destinations including Kuala Lumpur, Hangzhou (Shanghai) China, the Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne. Flights between Kuala Lumpur and Perth commence November 2 and Melbourne on November 12.
AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said he was thrilled to see AirAsia X honoured with the award particularly since the airline had only been operating for 12 months.
“This is a significant and welcome achievement for AirAsia X,” he said. “To be named Best New Airline demonstrates AirAsia X is setting the benchmark for premier standards and service.
“The aviation sector is highly competitive and to be at the forefront of the industry in this increasingly challenging economic environment takes business acumen, foresight and innovative business strategies.”
Osman-Rani hailed AirAsia X’s inaugural year of operation an excellent start to the airline’s forward plans and said last night’s award would strengthen AirAsia X’s brand in the market.
“We are thrilled with the progress of AirAsia X in Australia and Malaysia,” he said. “We announced our 100,000th passenger onboard in March 2008 and since then the airline has experienced a surge in bookings, taking the number of people travelling with us to more than 200,000, which is a major accomplishment.”
The airline showed it is at the forefront of the aviation industry by being the first airline in the Asia-Pacific region to sign up with ecommerce company PayPal for purchases of airfares and gift vouchers.
In late 2007 AirAsia X ordered an additional 25 A330 aircraft from Airbus to meet further growth. The first of these has now been delivered.
AirAsia X offers four direct flights between its hub Kuala Lumpur and the Gold Coast and five flights per week to Hangzhou. The airline will initially be servicing Perth with six return flights per week and Melbourne with four direct flights.
AirAsia X is 48% controlled by Aero Ventures, which is a company owned by Tony Fernandes and his associates. The Virgin Group owns a 16% share of the airline alongside Japanese leasing firm Orix Corporation and Bahrain-based Manara Consortium, which have each bought a 10% stake in AirAsia X. Parent company AirAsia also has a 16% stake in the company.
Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat, who officiated at the handing-over ceremony Friday, was confident AirAsia X will be a global leader in pioneering an innovative and revolutionary low-cost long-haul business model.
He also hoped AirAsia X's point-to-point business model, offering a wider choice of destination and fares, will support the government's vision to make the KL International Airport (KLIA) the leading low-cost hub in the region.
"I am happy to note that some 50 percent of AirAsia's passenger traffic has been foreign nationals which is in line with the government's vision of driving tourism in Malaysia.
"Low-cost travel has also been proven to grow the overall market and hence the multiplier benefits on the economy as a whole," he said.
AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani, in his speech, noted that on the average, only about 20 percent of AirAsia X's in-bound guests to Malaysia stayed in Kuala Lumpur while the rest will go to other AirAsia's destinations, both in Kuala Lumpur and the region.
AirAsia operates over 100 routes, covering more than 60 destinations in Southeast Asia and China. It will start flying to Tiruchirapalli, south India, from Dec 1 this year.
"The brand new A330 will enable us to dramatically reduce operating costs, enabling savings made on fuel consumption to be passed on to our guests through low fares," he said.
The Airbus A330, powered by Rolls Royce trent 700 engines, boasts enhanced flexibility and comfort for passengers. The cabin has 383 seats, with optional premium Xl seats for extra leg room, as well as the latest in-flight entertainment systems.
The A330-300 can accommodate seat and class configurations to suit diverse customer requirements. It has a range of up to 5,650nm/10,500km with a full passenger load.
Also present were AirAsia Group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia X chairman Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan and Airbus president/CEO Tom Enders and President of Civil Aerospace of Rolls Royce, Mark King.
Long haul Low Cost Carrier, Air Asia X, is set to commence it’s new services to Perth and Melbourne from their main hub in Kuala Lumpur. Perth flights begin next week and will have a daily service and the Melbourne service commences some ten days later and will be served four days each week. Air Asia X already flies to the Gold Coast and the addition of Melbourne and Perth now gives the good citizens of Victoria and WA new opportunities fro low cost travel to Malaysia and beyond.
All Air Asia X flights are operated by modern Airbus A330’s and offers passengers the choice economy class or upgrading to the fully reclining XL seating, which offer the equivalent levels of comfort and leg room that is offered by other airlines Business class. However XL seating comes without all the extras.
As with all LCC’s extras are not included and can be purchased on board. Full in flight meals and seat assignment can also be ordered in advance.
AirAsia Bhd is looking at reducing fuel surcharge following the decline in global crude oil prices. In a note to its registered website users yesterday, AirAsia chief executive Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said: "I have been working very hard with the team at AirAsia to look at reducing our fuel surcharge, and you should look forward to the good news in the next couple of months." He did not elaborate. Meanwhile, Fernandes said in the same note that there had been a sudden unanticipated surge in call volume to its call centre. "I notice that lately we have received numerous complaints on our call centre response time," he said. Fernandes said this was due to the huge success of AirAsia X, especially with the Perth and Melbourne route announcements. "These new, exciting long-haul routes have resulted in longer talk-time between callers and our agents, and subsequently caused our lines to be congested." He assured guests that the call centre team was working with its IT department to upgrade the facility and that by Nov 6, the centre would have enough agents and sufficient IT infrastructure to deal with the influx. "By this, we aim to improve our call centre performance to 90%, ie a drop-call rate of 10% only. By January, we'll be moving to a high-tech call centre to cater to more calls," Fernandes.
AirAsia Bhd is looking at reducing fuel surcharge following the decline in global crude oil prices.
In a note to its registered website users yesterday, AirAsia chief executive Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said: "I have been working very hard with the team at AirAsia to look at reducing our fuel surcharge, and you should look forward to the good news in the next couple of months." He did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, Fernandes said in the same note that there had been a sudden unanticipated surge in call volume to its call centre. "I notice that lately we have received numerous complaints on our call centre response time," he said.
Fernandes said this was due to the huge success of AirAsia X, especially with the Perth and Melbourne route announcements. "These new, exciting long-haul routes have resulted in longer talk-time between callers and our agents, and subsequently caused our lines to be congested."
He assured guests that the call centre team was working with its IT department to upgrade the facility and that by Nov 6, the centre would have enough agents and sufficient IT infrastructure to deal with the influx.
"By this, we aim to improve our call centre performance to 90%, ie a drop-call rate of 10% only. By January, we'll be moving to a high-tech call centre to cater to more calls," Fernandes.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"We are thrilled to be adding frequencies and introducing new services to Singapore.Giving out free seats to our customers is the perfect way to share the excitement with them," Regional Head of Commercial AirAsia, Kathleen Tan said in a statement Tuesday.
To celebrate, the airline is giving away free seats to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Pekanbaru, Phuket and Bangkok.
Customers only have to bear the fuel surcharges, airport tax and admin cost.
The free seat promotion will commence on Oct 29-Nov 2 for the travel period of Dec 1, 2008-July 31, 2009.
"While other airlines are cutting back on routes, we are expanding and have the ability to service the underserved markets," she added.
This offer is available exclusively via online at AirAsia's website at www.airasia.com.
Alistair Reid, VP Oceania for Menzies Aviation, said: “AirAsia X have plans for expansion in the region and we look forward to working with all of the AAX team during this three year agreement to ensure that our great service is aligned with their growth aspirations.”
Moses Devanayagam, Director of Operations for Air Asia X said:“AirAsia X is looking forward to be working closely with Menzies in the interest of our valued guests.”
AirAsia's group chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, said the airline expected a huge growth from Indian tourism to contribute to its new route.
"I anticipate very high load factor for this flight (probably) about 90 percent from the first week, which should probably be the strongest route we have ever done," he told a media briefing here Monday.
He said there was a huge potential for the airline as Thiruchi was the fourth largest city in Tamil Nadu with a population of 1.6 million.
Thiruchi, famous for its fusion architecture and monuments, will be the first destination for AirAsia, before it embarks on nine other locations in India within the next one-and-a-half years.
Other routes include Madras, Cochin, Madurai and Kovaibutore while for AirAsia X, they are looking at New Delhi, Mumbai and Hydrabad.
Tony said to cater to the new routes, the carrier would be spending about RM5 to RM7 million for new infrastructure including the opening of an office in Thiruchi.
Booking for the flight, which will be on a daily basis, will start on Wednesday midnight with offer price starting from RM49 while an average fare price of RM200 for one-way flight.
For India, AirAsia would be using 10 A320 planes.
Monday, October 27, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia has finally conquered its “last frontier” with the Indian Government giving the low-cost carrier approval to fly to India.
AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes said the airline would start selling tickets to Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu at midnight on Wednesday with the first flight to take off on Dec 1 at 7.40am.
“It will be a daily flight and we are looking at even adding a second flight now as the initial response has been tremendous,” he told reporters Monday during a press conference here.
Special promotional prices for the flight will cost RM49 one-way while the normal ticket price will cost about RM200 one-way.
Fernandes said plans are now in the works for the next one and a half years to fly to many more destinations in India including Madras, Madurai and Kochi with AirAsia.
“AirAsia-X meanwhile will fly to places like New Dehli, Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Calcutta,” he added.
He said AirAsia would initially invest between RM5mil to RM7mil to set up infrastructure in India and he is confident that it will do well.
“This is an exciting period for us and I’m looking at a high load factor of at least 90% for our first flight,” he said.
Fernandes said it had taken the airline seven years to reach this stage and with India now in its pocket, his mission as CEO is complete.
“I had said then that India would be the last place we need to get to. It is now over to AirAsia-X to grow the business to Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States.”
Fernandes said he expects a huge growth in Indian tourism in Malaysia and that he is not worried about the global economic slowdown.
“I believe that you have to be innovative. While other airlines are cutting back we are expanding and can take up their slack.
“Maybe some of the population in India cannot afford to fly with us, but there are many more who can and this is the market we are after,” he said.
Fernandes also said, in response to recent Malaysia Airlines (MAS) advertisements, that his battle with MAS is over and that it is time to move on.
1. AirAsia Berhad: Based in Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia flies domestic and international flights and was the first carrier to introduce low-cost travelling in Asia when it launched in November 1996. It was founded by government-owned DRB-Hicom. When the airline ran into hard times, it was taken over and revived by former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes. AirAsia is now a public listed company on the Malaysia Stock Exchange and flies to more than 60 destinations. It has 69 aircraft.
2. Jetstar Asia: Based in Singapore, the airline launched in December 2004 with a Hong Kong service. Qantas and Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited jointly own more than 80% of Jetstar Asia. The carrier merged with Valuair in July 2005 and both fly out of Singapore to major cities in South-east Asia. It has 10 aircraft. In the Skytrax Airline of the Year survey for 2006, Jetstar Asia was awarded the best low-cost airline for both the Asia and South-east Asia categories, and last year was ranked as the world's best low-cost airline by SkyTrax.
3. Nok Air: Based in Bangkok, Nok Air was established in February 2004 by Sky Asia Co.
4. Tiger Airways: Offering one of the lowest possible airfares in the market, Tiger Airways first flew from Singapore in September 2004 with two aircraft and three routes in its network. It now flies to more than 25 destinations across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific. it has just ordered 50 new Airbus A320s to grow its fleet to 70 Airbus aircraft.
5. Cebu Pacific: Launched in March 1996, Cebu Pacific pioneered low-coast flying in The Philippines. It started flying internationally in November 2001 and now has services to Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kaohsiung, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Osaka, Pusan, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore and Taipei. It has 21 aircraft.
6.Virgin Blue: Founded by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Virgin Blue started in August 2000 with just two aircraft as the first low-fare airline in Australia. It is one of the world's most profitable airline groups incorporating Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue (Australia), Pacific Blue (New Zealand), Polynesian Blue and V Australia. Virgin Blue was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in December 2003. With its
international carriers Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue, it has a fleet of 60 aircraft.
7. Air Deccan: India's first low-cost airline, Air Deccan was launched by Capt GR Gopinath in August 2003, flying from Bangalore to Hubli. It revolutionised air travel in India by offering tickets affordable for most Indians.
8. SpiceJet: Based in New Delhi, SpiceJet started flying in May 2005. Now India's second-largest low-cost airline in terms of market share, it was earlier known as Royal Airways, a reincarnation of ModiLuft.
9. Viva Macau: China's Viva Macau was founded in 2004. With its fleet of 15 Boeing 767 wide-body jetliners, it offers non-stop services to Sydney, Ho Chi Minh and Jakarta.
10. Hong Kong Express: Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express Airways were established in 2001 and 2004 respectively. The sister airlines provide services between Hong Kong and more than 30 cities in Asia with its fleet of 13 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Low-cost carrier AirAsia has reduced its on-time guarantee from three to two hours.
From Nov 1, AirAsia passengers would receive a RM200 e-voucher if their flight is delayed for more than two hours, said its group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes. “I dare say we are the only airline that is offering this service. It is a clear case of a low-cost carrier doing what premium airlines have not done,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
On how the current recession would affect the carrier, Fernandes said the objective was to improve demand from travellers by giving them incentives to switch from premium airlines to AirAsia. When asked by reporters whether AirAsia would raise fuel surcharges, Fernandes said the airline would not, unless global fuel prices went past US$100 (RM357) per barrel.
“We are looking at getting rid of the fuel surcharge actually. We need to see consistency and stability in the world (oil) prices first,” he said.
AirAsia has been chosen one of the top five most recognised and admired airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, based on a survey in which 3,600 people in 10 countries participated.
It is also the sole low-cost carrier to be listed in the “Top 10 Asia-Pacific Airlines” category in the survey conducted by market research company TNS.
Fernandes expressed his pride in the ranking, calling it “a great achievement” for the airline.
“Over the last seven years, AirAsia has quickly become a household name with flights operating from every Asean country,” he said in a statement yesterday.
The results indicate the success of a brand in understanding and meeting the needs of its clients, said TNS Hong Kong & Singapore client services and insight director Guy Hearn.
AirAsia is to add one additional frequency to Singapore from its Kuala Lumpur hub. With this new addition, the low cost airline will have a total of seven daily direct flights from Kuala Lumpur – Singapore from 1 December 2008.
To celebrate this new frequency, AirAsia is offering free seats and even waiving the fuel surcharges, so passengers only have to pay for the taxes and admin fee. The promotion is available for booking until 28th October 2008 for travel between 1 December 2008 and 31 July 2009.
Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial AirAsia, said, "We have been steadily building up our presence in the ‘Lion City’, having only recently announced four additional frequencies from Kuala Lumpur and new daily flights from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Singapore in October alone. There are robust demands between the two major cities and tourist gateway in the region. Since its inception last February, we have recorded over 90% load. We are confident that this new additional frequency will do just as well."
Jointly, the AirAsia group will have a total of 101 flights weekly to Singapore from various points in the region which include 49 flights weekly from Kuala Lumpur, 7 flights weekly from Kota Kinabalu, 7 flights weekly from Kuching, 7 flights weekly from Phuket, 28 flights weekly from Bangkokand 3 flights weekly from Pekanbaru, Indonesia.