Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tune Money's revamped portal goes live

29 December 2009

PETALING JAYA: As the company is in full swing towards a rebranding of its products and services scheduled for the first quarter of 2010, Tune Money Sdn Bhd has given a sneak preview of what's to come with the launch of its newly revamped and enhanced website portal, www.tunemoney.com.

The new portal was designed and developed to provide simple, user-friendly and reliable electronic access to users, customers and visitors.

Safety and security is an emphasis in terms of customers' data protection.

Tune Money CEO Joyce Lai said: "We have spent the past 12 months reassessing, remodelling and strategising our business and the enhanced portal is our first step in rebranding our products and services to the market. As an online-centric business, an interesting and user-friendly online interface is key in keeping our loyal existing customers and acquire new ones. With the economy heading towards full recovery, there is so much potential in the online financial services business that Tune Money is in, where we seek to capture the growing working class and middle-income group."

"We would like to encourage everyone to come and visit Tune Money's new portal at www.tunemoney.com to experience the enhanced new features. With easy navigation and browsing, visitors can also customize their preferred font size besides accessing the complete information on our products. Do check out or new loyalty and reward programmes too where you will find many interesting stuff," added Lai.

She said the portal will be Tune Money's main marketing, branding and communication tool to reach out to customers and everyone who is interested in its products and services, as well as partners and the public at large.

Tune Money is a one-stop financial services company which offers affordable prepaid cards under the Visa brand name and insurance products. Tune Money was set up in 2005 with the aim of eventually creating an online Tune consumer community together with its sister companies Tune Hotels.com and Tune Talk. In the long run, the plan is to integrate the Tune consumer community with that of AirAsia, the world's best low cost airline that shares the same co-owners and founders with the Tune Group in Dato' Sri Tony Fernandes and Dato' Kamarudin Meranun.

"We are continuously reviewing and improving the site so we welcome all comments and feedback.

We strive towards providing excellent service to our customers and ensuring that they have a pleasant and exciting experience online is our commitment," added Lai.

Daily Express

AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes rules out bid for West Ham

29 December 2009

LONDON— Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes has ruled out making a bid for his favourite football club West Ham, as he is busy running the Lotus Formula One team.

He had fuelled speculation that he could launch a bid to buy the east London-based English Premier League club, as he attended the match between the side and Portsmouth last week.

Fernandes, the founder of budget airline AirAsia, also met West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola after the match, reported The Telegraph.

The entrepreneur, however, ruled out making a bid for the club as he is busy running an F1 team — the 45-year-old is Lotus’ team principal for next season.

The paper also revealed that he held detailed discussions with West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt on a previous occasion, but apparently they did not bear fruit.

Fernandes’ decision to distance himself from any takeover talk has been a source of great regret at West Ham, as the innovative businessman is regarded by many as an exciting potential investor.

Still, he admitted that he might be tempted to make a move but did not indicate that it would be any time soon.

CB Holding, the company set up by the creditors of West Ham’s former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, has appointed Rothschild bank to deal with potential investors.

Talks have taken place with a number of parties, including former Birmingham City co-owner David Sullivan, although his bid of around £46 million (RM253 million) falls short of the bank’s valuation of the club.

CB Holding insists it is under no pressure to sell and has a three-year plan to retain ownership of West Ham if it does not find the right investor. However, it is also aware that new funding would help create greater stability.

The Straits Times

Friday, December 25, 2009

Qantas confirms Jetstar talking to AirAsia about possible merger

24 December 2009

Qantas has recently confirmed that wholly owned subsidiary Jetstar has been talking to Malaysia-based low cost carrier AirAsia about a possible joint venture.

This news comes after Qantas eyed Malaysian Airlines earlier in the year as a possible partner earlier in the year in order to set up a strong presence in Southeast Asia.

“Qantas confirms that its wholly-owned subsidiary Jetstar and AirAsia have entered discussions regarding a potential cost-saving joint venture,” said Qantas.

“However, these discussions are at a preliminary stage and no binding agreements have been reached.”

If successful, this cooperation should better position Qantas to battle it out with Singapore Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary Tiger Airways.

The announcement also comes days after an Australian federal government aviation White Paper indicated that foreign ownership laws on Qantas may be slackened.

Travel Blackboard

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

OSK: AirAsia, Jetstar Cost-Saving Collaboration May Bolster Bottomlines

21 December 2009

KUALA LUMPUR-- The potential cost-cutting collaboration between AirAsia and Jetstar Airways is definitely welcome, said OSK Research.

"Any positive cost reduction may eventually bolster their bottomlines," it said in a research note here Monday.

However, OSK Research also stated, it was not overly excited with the proposed cooperation as it was still preliminary.

"We do not see it materialising so soon," it said.

It was reported that AirAsia and Jetstar, Qantas Airway Ltd's low-fare unit, are discussing cooperation towards cutting costs amid rising competition for the budget-conscious Asian traveller.

AirAsia has not made any formal announcement pertaining to the cooperation. However, a news report said a partnership may cover procurement and ground handling, generating as much as 10 per cent in cost savings.

"Despite the potential collaboration, we remain mindful that high crude oil prices may squeeze AirAsia's margins.This is especially so, given that price undercutting activities, may persist in the short to medium term," OSK Research said.

Due to AirAsia's recent weaker than expected results, OSK Research has kept a "sell" rating for the budget airline.


AirAsia X extends ULD contract with Unitpool for 5 more years

18 December 2009

Kuala Lumpur- Low-cost long-haul airline AirAsia X today signed a five-year extension of agreement with Swiss asset management company Unitpool to support the airline's ambitious cargo growth plans.

With the extension of this agreement, Unitpool will provide for AirAsia X unit load devices (ULDs), which are needed, to support the airline's fast growing cargo operations, until 2014. ULD is a standardized cargo container for air, land and sea transportation. Unitpool guarantees the prompt delivery of ULDs as and when required by the airline in any new destination it flies to. The airline, an affiliate of low-cost short-haul carrier AirAsia, is fast expanding its route network.

The agreement is expected to help AirAsia X meet its projected target of MYR 50 million in cargo revenue in 2010, a more than 60% increase from the MYR 30 million revenue it expects to achieve in 2009.

"Extending our relationship with Unitpool assures us that our needs concerning the procurement, repair and positioning of ULDs are met. It allows us to push forward our growth strategy and to give more attention to the marketing of our passenger seats and cargo space. It also frees AirAsia X from taking the build-up risk of acquiring large numbers of ULDs - based merely on anticipation - before they are actually required," said Sathis Manoharen, Regional Head of Cargo of AirAsia X.

Meanwhile, Unitpool CEO David Harman said, "We are absolutely delighted to grow our relationship with AirAsia X, which is expanding operations and has huge plans for its cargo business. We are excited about our continued participation in its growth and success. The extended agreement allows us to follow through on plans to add Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the growing network of airports with a Unitpool-dedicated presence."

AirAsia X identifies cargo as a major revenue-generating channel. It is optimizing the potential of its otherwise empty belly space to bring in cash by offering cargo services at rates considerably lower than its competitors' and by tapping AirAsia's extensive network and flight frequencies to reach more destinations and achieve faster delivery time.

The airline is increasingly finding new ways of increasing revenue apart from growing passenger volume. AirAsia X is strengthening cargo operations in part to protect its bottom line against the negative impacts of the economic downturn and a possible surge in fuel prices.

AirAsia X began working with Unitpool in April 2007 and has increasingly used the latter's services as the airline grew from one route and one aircraft to its current nine routes and fleet of five Airbus A330s and two A340s.

The Journal of Commerce

Tune Hotels in franchise tie-up with Thai firm

18 December 2009

BANGKOK: AirAsia Bhd affiliate Tune Hotels.com has entered into a strategic partnership with Thailand-listed Evolution Capital pcl to franchise the roll-out of 44 hotels in Thailand, China, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Indonesia.

In a statement yesterday, Tune Hotels.com said the first 24 hotels were targeted to be in development by early next year and operational by 2012, with staggered roll-out of the subsequent 20 hotels to be completed by 2013.

“This expansion affirms our confidence in Thailand’s tourism and strong commitment to the Thai market.

“Thailand has become the leading tourism destination for those seeking to stretch their hard-earned income.

Mark Lankester (left) shaking hands with Simon Gerovich after signing the strategic partnership agreement

“It’s a natural fit for Tune Hotels.com to expand its limited service brand of hotels here,” group chief executive officer Mark Lankester said.

He said the partnership with Evolution Capital formed part of Tune Hotels.com’s aggressive regional expansion plan.

“In total, we will have about 100 hotels in key cities across Asia by 2013, including seven existing Tune Hotels.com hotels in Malaysia and Bali, as well as our own significant hotel development plans over that period,” he added.

Evolution Capital president and managing director Simon Gerovich said there remained a huge demand for safe and clean low-cost accommodation in Asia’s most popular destinations.

“The Tune Hotels.com limited service model has proven itself to cater very well to this demand.

“We are very excited to partner with TuneHotels.com in spreading this fresh concept throughout a growing number of destinations in Asia,” he said.

The Star

Jetstar-AirAsia discuss cost-sharing JV, Thai Airways cooperating with Nok Air

18 December 2009

Qantas has advised the stock exchange that its LCC unit Jetstar and AirAsia have entered discussions regarding a potential cost saving joint venture. Qantas noted the discussions are at a preliminary stage and no binding agreements have been reached.

Both airlines operate A320 equipment on short-haul routes, while the long-haul fleets include A330 equipment. Jetstar has 57 A320 orders outstanding, while AirAsia has 105 still to be delivered. Jetstar has seven A330s in service, while AirAsia X has four in service and 21 more on order. Jetstar is also leasing four more A330s (possibly five, with deliveries from Nov-2010), following the decision by Qantas to defer delivery of 15 B787-8s by four years.

Jetstar fleet in service and on order

Aircraft Manufacturer

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Total On Order

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AirAsia fleet in service and on order

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Aircraft Type

Total In Service

Total On Order

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737 (CFMI)








AirAsia X fleet in service and on order

Aircraft Manufacturer

Aircraft Type

Total In Service

Total On Order

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The Australian reports talks centre on aircraft procurement and ground handling, and a tie-up is estimated to cut costs by approximately 5-10%. The agreement would not involve equity.

The airlines did not discuss whether the JV could involve joint maintenance services. Qantas is currently in a dispute with its engineers, which are threatening industrial action during December and January. Qantas stated yesterday the action would not have any impact on airline operations.

Qantas’ shares rose 1.9% yesterday, while AirAsia advanced 0.8%.

Thai Airways and Nok Air Join Force to Boost Domestic and Regional Air Traffic

Thai Airways is meanwhile joining forces with its 39%-owned LCC unit Nok Air in a long-overdue move to cooperate and drive efficiencies for the group. From 01-Mar-2010, Nok Air will operate services to some of Thai’s domestic destinations, including Phitsanulok, Ubol Ratchathani and Mae Hong Son from Bangkok.

Thai Airways President, Piyasvasti Amranand, explained the move is based on the carrier’s “Two-Brand Strategy. The airline is promising a seamless travel experience, noting “passengers on these routes will continue to receive the same standard of services that they currently receive on Thai, such as the same flight frequencies, standards of aircraft maintenance and cockpit crew standards. Traffic between Nok Air’s domestic routes to Thai’s international flights will connect over Bangkok

Mr Piyasvasti added, “the cooperation will add more connecting points in the secondary domestic and regional destinations to Thai and Star Alliance’s global network. Thai will be able to better utilize its aircraft by offering more flight option to high-demand destinations, while still emphasizing its premium service standards to passengers based on its strategic plan”.

He noted the move was a result of a review of the carrier’s domestic performance over the past ten years. He stated domestic secondary routes have “been unprofitable for several years, but operations were sustained for the travelling public”.

Thai Airways’ shares fell 2% yesterday.

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 17-Dec-09

Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Reuters

Center for Asia Pacific Aviation

Budget carriers unite to cut costs

18 December 2009

JETSTAR and AirAsia are about to announce an operational joint venture that could save hundreds of millions of dollars by enabling them to jointly buy aircraft, parts and other goods.

The two airlines would still compete for passengers and the deal does not involve equity.

It aims to cut costs through economies of scale.

A Qantas Group spokesman confirmed yesterday that the two airlines were talking but declined to comment further.

It is understood the region's two biggest low-cost carriers have been talking for some time and are working out final details of the deal.

Areas expected to be included in the agreement are procurement and ground handling, with costs savings in the order of 5-10 per cent.

Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia is the Asia-Pacific region's biggest low-cost carrier.

It is headed by flamboyant entrepreneur and former musician Tony Fernandez.

At the end of last month it had a fleet of 64 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft and 18 Boeing 737s.

It operates more than 400 flights daily to domestic and international destinations and has offshoots in Thailand and Indonesia as well as a stake in long-haul carrier AirAsiaX, which serves Australia.

Airlines flying under the Jetstar brand operate 46 A320 and and A321 aircraft.

Combining procurement for the two fleets will give the carriers more clout to cut deals with suppliers.

The two airlines also plan to share ground handlers in ports where one partner faces higher costs because it does not have enough flights.

They are considering pooling parts, giving them wider coverage at lower cost.

The deal is understood to minimise the need for regulatory approval but that might be unavoidable in some areas.

Engineering work will still be done separately and the agreement will not include heavily regulated areas such as training and standards.

In the longer term, the airlines hope to join forces on aircraft purchases. They are hoping the size of their combined fleet will give them enough sway to influence the design of the next generation of narrow-body jets when they are offered.

The Australian low-cost carrier has been expanding in Southeast Asia as part of a pan-Asian strategy that includes stakes in Jetstar-branded airlines in Singapore and Vietnam.

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan reaffirmed the airline's Asia focus last week as Singapore-based Jetstar Asia began services to mainland China.

The move is expected to be a blow to Singapore-based Tiger Aviation.

The Australian.com

Thai Company Signs Franchise Deal To Set Up 44 Tune Hotels In Five Countries

17 December 2009

BANGKOK-- Evolution Capital, listed on the Stock Thai Exchange, is planning to invest over US$200 million in the next few years to build, refurbish and operate 44 Tune Hotels.com in five countries.

The company has signed a franchise agreement with Air Asia to set up the Tune Hotels.

Its President, Simon Gerovich said 24 hotels would be operated in the first phase within the next four years, with the first scheduled to be operational in Thailand's premier resort island of Phuket by 2010.

Besides newly set up hotels, half of them would be existing hotels to be refurbished as Tune hotels.

"We are leasing most of the land or space for 30 years to keep our initial cost low," he said at the announcement of the franchise agreement between Air Asia, the region's leading low cost carrier which had established Tune Hotels.com.

Tune Hotels.com was represented by its Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Lankester at the event on Thursday.

The Thai partner, a real estate investment advisory and management firm focuses on hospitality and branded residential sectors.

Gerovich said besides Thailand where about half of the 44 hotels would be built, Evolution also planned to set up the limited service hotel brand in China, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Depending on locations, Gerovich said each hotel would have between 79 and 150 rooms, adding that they were hoping for occupancy between 70 to 80 per cent, with average rate of US$20.

Lankester said Thailand was one of the leading tourist destination in the region, and the entry of Tune into the market would bring in significant revenue to the group in the future.

"We are on track to have 65 to 68 hotels operational by 2013 and 100 by 2015. Once this is achieved, we hope to get most of revenue from overseas operations as generally Malaysia's hotel room rates are already very low," he said, citing the RM500 he had to pay for a two-star hotel in India as a comparison.

He said their seven hotels currently operating in Malaysia and Indonesia were getting an average of 95 per cent occupancy, adding that over 500,000 guests have stayed in these hotels so far.

He said the company planned to enter other markets being served by Air Asia, such as India, Australia and United Kingdom.


AirAsia launches Kochi – Kuala Lumpur Flights

17 December 2009

AirAsia has launched flights between Kochi in India and Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaysia. Kochi is one of the airline’s latest Indian destinations which includes Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). AirAsia is the only airline from Kuala Lumpur which is servicing Kochi with direct daily flights.

Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial AirAsia said, “With Kochi now added to our extensive network, AirAsia is unlocking the potential of international air travel from Kuala Lumpur to Southern India and its surrounding areas. We are thrilled to be serving Kochi direct, a huge market that no other airline is serving directly. With the commencement of this direct service to Kuala Lumpur, the people of Kerala and India can now use Kochi as a gateway to our extensive route network to ASEAN and beyond ...... Moving forward, we are looking into expanding our route network in India and opening-up the market. Amongst the destinations which are on our network radar include Chennai, Hyderabad, Banglore and Mumbai.”

AirAsia is currently the largest low-cost carrier in Asia and services one of the most extensive route network in South East Asia with over 70 destinations across 20 countries and 9 major hubs in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu), Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket) and Indonesia (Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Bandung). It has grown from a modest two aircraft to its current fleet of 85, servicing over 130 routes in just 7 years.


AirAsia set to review regional media account

17 December 2009

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia is set to pitch its regional media business.

The airline’s media account is worth an estimated US$11.5 million.

In an exclusive interview with Media, Kathleen Tan, regional head of commercial at AirAsia, confirmed plans for the review, saying that the airline is looking to “put its media account up for pitch sometime next year”.

She added: “It’s a health check that we do every two to three years because sometimes if agencies win a business without a pitch I feel complacency comes in and they just cruise along. Sometimes change is good.”

In May last year, AirAsia split its regional media account between Carat and incumbent agency Omnicom Media Group.
Carat was given the media duties for the airline’s long-haul arm, AirAsia X, while OMD continued to work with AirAsia on existing projects. Since then, it is believed that OMD's remaining duties have been moved elsewhere.

In response to the news of the pitch, both Carat and OMD declined to comment.
In the interview, Tan also offered agencies some “frank feedback”. “I would advise media and creative agencies to change the team that services the client every two years. Having a new team will bring new ideas; then there is no reason for the client to change its agency,” she said.

On AirAsia’s advertising Tan said that the airline still had some way to go. “I don’t think it’s as innovative as I would like it to be. We want agencies to push the limit. I want to tell the agencies that sometimes, for tactical campaigns, we cannot take risks because we have to look at the bottom line and bring in the dollars.”

Tan singled out Carat Taiwan as the type of agency AirAsia would be looking for. “They engage you at all levels and bring extra value. Sometimes they advise us not to spend our budget and recommend editorial coverage instead.”

Tan also revealed plans to reward AirAsia’s best agencies through a scheme called Agency Extraordinaire.

AirAsia was crowned Brand of the Year at Media’s Agency of the Year Awards in Singapore. In the same week it became the airline with the largest number of followers on social network Facebook.


F1 side bet: Fernandez vs Branson

17 December 2009

The next season of Formula 1 racing has just been made more interesting -- and will certainly come with hilarious results -- because of a side between two buddies in the airline industry.

AirAsia boss Datuk Tony Fernandes has taken up Sir Richard Branson's challenge -- that the loser in the Formula 1 stakes will dress up as an airline stewardess on the winner's airline.

Fernandez is the Lotus F1 Racing team principal while Branson’s Virgin Group owns Virgin Racing. Both are among the four new teams competing in the 2010 F1 circuit.

An AirAsia statement said Fernandes has even taken the liberty to pick out a lovely crew uniform for Branson. (See attached image)

"It's quite fitting, don't you think? Our guests will be delighted to be served by a Knight of the Realm. But knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests "coffee, tea or me?," said Fernandes.

He said Branson would be assigned to duty on board a flight operated by AirAsia X, the long-haul, low-cost affiliate of AirAsia. "We’d like to keep him with us for a longer flight rather than the short-haul flights operated by AirAsia. We’ll be applying soon to the Department of Civil Aviation to gain clearance for him."

Fernandes, who once worked for Branson as a financial controller at Virgin Records, had recently joked his only target in the new F1 season is to beat Branson otherwise he would retire and kill himself.

The statement said Branson however suggested something less macabre. "I like Tony a lot and I really hope he doesn't have to kill himself, but at the same time I'd obviously like to beat him. So maybe we should think of another challenge.

"He has an airline, we have an airline, and if we beat him he can come and work on one of our airlines as a Virgin stewardess. It will save him having to kill himself, but we'll make sure the stewardess outfit is perfect," joked Branson.

"I suspect if he beats us he might ask me to reciprocate. Maybe I'll have to check out how fetching his stewardess outfits are," he added.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

AirAsia plans more routes in India

15 December 2009

KUALA LUMPUR — Asia’s leading low-cost airline AirAsia is planning to expand its route network in India, particularly in a market that no other airline is serving directly.

Its regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan, said destinations on the budget carrier’s network radar included Chennai, Hyderabad, Banglore and Mumbai.

“Moving forward, we are looking into expanding our route network in India and opening up the market,” Tan said in a statement here.

“AirAsia is very committed to expand this market and provide an excellent opportunity to travellers from India to enjoy our revolutionary low fares at 5-star service,” she said.

Commenting on the successful launch of the Kochi-Kuala Lumpur route today, Tan said Kochi is one of AirAsia’s latest Indian destinations alongside Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram.

She said since opening of the Kochi route two month ago, the airline recorded a strong pick-up with over 82 per cent load factor.

“We have sold approximately 35,000 seats for the route, an evident that the direct daily flights to this route has been long awaited by the general public,” she added.

Tan also said that AirAsia was utilising a new modern fleet of comfortable and spacious Airbus A320 aircraft for all flights to India.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Media's Brand of the Year Goes to AirAsia

11 December 2009
AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial Kathleen Tan (right) accepting the Brand of the Year award presented by Mr. Louis Boswell of AETN All Asia Networks at Media's Agency of the Year (AOY) Awards, held at the St. Regis in Singapore
AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial Kathleen Tan (right) accepting the Brand of the Year award presented by Mr. Louis Boswell of AETN All Asia Networks at Media's Agency of the Year (AOY) Awards, held at the St. Regis in Singapore

Awarded for constant innovations and bold ideas in branding campaigns

AirAsia, the world's best low-cost carrier, continues its award winning streak when the airline was bestowed the prestigious Brand of the Year award at Media's Agency of the Year (AOY) Awards, held at the St. Regis in Singapore.

In its 16th year, the Agency of the Year Awards recognizes inspired brand leadership, management excellence, outstanding business performance and overall achievements in the Asia-Pacific advertising and communications industry.

For the Brand of the Year category, AirAsia was awarded the accolade for its constant innovations and bold ideas in branding campaigns and advertisements to achieve marketing success. Despite the global economic downturn, AirAsia continued to embark on numerous branding campaigns which in turn became not only the industry's benchmark, but lead the way to demonstrate aggressive branding efforts which are essential to keep the brand relevant, alive and fresh especially during challenging times.

The airline’s perseverance is often praised by aviation and economic experts, and its success formula is regularly emulated by others.

AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial, Kathleen Tan said, “As a young airline, we are very elated with this win, as it is a very important recognition to our tireless efforts in bringing the AirAsia brand to the forefront. To all our 7,500 staff who are also our brand ambassadors, this win is a testament of each individual’s hard work and dedication in making AirAsia a reputable brand. Indeed, we strive very hard to make the airline a household name where low-fares are concerned, and we are happy that all of our endeavours bear fruit.

“It has been a challenging year on the economic front, but our diligent efforts have proved otherwise as we continue to garner sales through our low fares campaigns on our number one airasia.com website and hot package deals via our GoHoliday travel portal. This is purely because the public are aware that we are a reputable and trustworthy brand, where they could derive great value and excellent services.”

The airline is totally committed in building its brand and bringing it to greater heights. Utmost commitment is essential to instill confidence and create emotional attachments of the masses with the brand. For instance, the airline’s alliance with popular sports teams such as Williams F1 and Oakland Raiders ignites further interest to the brand and generates a sense of belonging among its fans and sports enthusiasts. Especially in new markets, association with a local household brand will definitely raise the brand’s profile and instill confidence in the market especially among the youth to grow with us; enhancing our guests flying experience further .

Kathleen added, “In order stay ahead of the competition, we need to keep our brand exciting, bright and most importantly credible. We want our guests to feel good about the AirAsia experience and this will definitely keep them coming back for more.”

AirAsia is also a passionate user of technology in its branding and marketing efforts.

Social media is one of AirAsia’s important branding campaign mechanisms, which allows the airline to address the conventional limitations of direct push marketing. With its own Facebook page, it is akin to a forum that invites participation from the public, creating an extension for them to be passionate and connected to the AirAsia brand. The AirAsia Facebook page is currently the number ONE ranking Facebook corporate account in the transportation field, quickly closing in on a six figure fan base.

Twitter is another interesting tool that is utilized for transmission of short marketing blurbs, updating guests with new developments and promotions. Keeping guests in the loop through Twitter’s short messaging is absolutely alluring – due to its current chic status – and free to the masses.

Media's Editor in Chief and AOY jury chair, Atifa Hargrave-Silk said, “AirAsia is to be given the award for its achievement in building its brand and expanding its international profile in a year when the economic downturn crippled demand for air travel.

“AirAsia's first ever brand campaign launched in Asia in October, shifting consumers’ mindset of low-cost carriers by showcasing the airline's innovation, high quality service and unique experience. The airline this year also proved it had a solid grasp of the online space, in particular its ‘one million free seats’ campaign, which set a new international sales record, with almost 900,000 seats being booked 48 hours after the launch.”

In deciding the ultimate recipient of the award, Media Magazine considers the advertiser's vision – direction and focus on goals, boldness – innovative solutions that provides a return on marketing investment, brand custodian, understanding of competitive or industry challenges and a plan to overcome them and of course achievements and successes that the client has faced and overcome to achieve proven business and marketing results.

AirAsia launched a regional campaign in October, to position the world’s best low-cost airline as a high quality, sleek and cool brand.

Aptly themed ‘Have You Flown AirAsia?’, the campaign aimed to shift consumers’ mindset of low-cost carriers by showcasing the airline’s innovation, high quality service and unique experience.

The campaign was spearheaded be the television commercial directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad which rolled out across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand on 14th October 2009. It was supported by online, outdoor, print and social media presence. A refreshing microsite has also been created to keep the brand relevant and dynamic. Exciting contests and promotions were held, treating winners to premium events and concerts.

The integrated format of this campaign is a great example of how television, print and social media can work together to engage today’s well-travelled consumers.

Travel Blackboard

Lat on board AirAsia’s A320

10 December 2009
Lat tells his story as Fernandes looks on

for the second time pays tribute to Malaysia’s greatest cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, better known as Lat, by featuring his masterpiece on its brand new A320 aircraft.

"We are proud to be associated with someone as talented and well-loved across the Asean region," said AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.

"With the aircraft flying all over Asean, we believe his creativity will inspire other young artists to greater heights," he said.

"Lat’s colourful characters and universal stories have always captured the very ideals that make up Malaysia’s unique multi-racial society, celebrating not only its differences but also its similarities.

"These are also the very ideals that have helped AirAsia grow into the Truly Asean airline we’re proud to call ourselves today," Fernandes said.

The airline first featured Lat’s illustrations on one of its Boeing 737 aircraft in 2004.

"I have wanted the characters and storyboard to reflect the culture and way of life of the people of Asean as AirAsia has grown to become," Lat said in describing his work then. "My vision was for the people of Asean to identify with the characters on the plane."

Fernandes said it was only fitting to invite Lat back to illustrate his timeless art as the airline has an Asean crew and an "unparalleled route network that brings the rest of the world closer to the region".

"Now that we’re an Asean airline, our dream has been realised and Lat helped us realise that dream."

To celebrate its collaboration with Lat, AirAsia will produce a limited edition line of Lat merchandise, including a replica of the aircraft bearing his illustrations.


Knives are out for Lotus Boss

10 December 2009

THE head of the new Lotus team has quickly discovered what it is like to be in the snake-pit of Formula One politics.

Tony Fernandes, the Air Asia tycoon who was once a record company executive, said: "I thought I'd seen it all in the airline and music business but it's another level here.

"Everyone shakes your hand and smiles - and a knife goes in your back as you walk out."

But the Malaysian pioneer remains undaunted and believes Lotus will be a key part of a "more exciting" Formula One in 2010.

The team hope to announce their drivers in the next week, with ex-Toyota ace Jarno Trulli high on their shopping list, as predicted by SunSport.

Fernandes admitted the veteran Italian was among four contenders who also include Malaysia's top driver Fairuz Fauzy.

But former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who has been talking about a possible comeback, is not in the frame.

Lotus, who insist they are essentially a Malaysian outfit even though they have taken the name of the legendary F1 team from Norfolk, are aiming to be the best of the four new teams who will join the grid next season.

And Fernandes is particularly desperate to beat the Virgin squad backed by his former boss Sir Richard Branson, now also a rival in the airline business.

Fernandes said: "I said that No1, we have to be ahead of Branson. Otherwise I will retire and kill myself."

Italy's Jarno Trulli heads Lotus F1 shortlist

09 December 2009

Lotus Formula 1 team principal Tony Fernandes plans to name his drivers for the 2010 season next week with Jarno Trulli top of his four-man shortlist.

Trulli's only F1 victory came at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix

Fernandes confirmed that Italian Trulli and Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy were on the list but that Canada's former world champion Jacques Villeneuve was not.

Fernandes said Lotus were prepared to pay for the best available talent.

"I hope within the next week or so we will announce the line-up," said the Malaysian aviation entrepreneur.

Lotus will have a budget of £55m for the 2010 season and Fernandes is not expecting instant success.

"We know we aren't going to be competing (at the front) in year one, but it takes time and we'll have a good basis for moving forward," he said.

Trulli, 35, is currently without a team after Toyota announced they were pulling out of the sport in November.

But the Italian has worked with Lotus's technical director Mike Gascoyne before, most recently when they were both at Toyota.

Canada's Villeneuve, 38, who won the F1 world championship in 1997, has been talking about a comeback and spoke to Lotus but will not return to action with the team.

Fernandes also announced on Wednesday that he had reversed the decision he made in September to stand down as team principal once the season had started.

"There was a reason for doing it at that time, because I think AirAsia shareholders were kind of spooked," the AirAsia boss said.

"Now they are beginning to see that this is no different from any other business that I own.

"I will stay on as team principal. Good leadership is to know when to go, I don't see myself doing this forever but this is not the right time to go.

"I am the glue that puts it all together and drives it forwards."

Fernandes went on to state that his target for next season was to beat fellow F1 newcomer Virgin Racing, which is backed by British aviation tycoon Richard Branson.

"I said that number one we have to be ahead of Branson, otherwise I will retire and kill myself," he added.

BBC Sports

AirAsia Most Popular Airline Online

09 December 2009

Success in innovation, promo fares mark 8th anniversary bash

AirAsia is now the most popular airline in the world on giant social networking site Facebook, surpassing all other airlines – even all other transport companies – in terms of fan numbers.

The achievement caps AirAsia’s 8th year anniversary celebration today and highlights the airline’s innovative spirit that has led to its successful foray in new media and social networking. AirAsia’s achievement on Facebook at http://facebook.airasia.com comes only nine months after the airline launched its account. AirAsia leads over all other airlines with a fan base of approximately 100,000.

Meanwhile, the airline’s website airasia.com attracts 20 million unique visitors per month, http://blog.airasia.com is ranked as the world’s second most popular blog site by an airline, and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes’s blog http://tonyfernandesblog.com is the most popular in Malaysia by a corporate leader. The airline’s blog site, launched in September 2008, registers an average of 55,000 unique visitors per month. Tony’s blog was launched a month afterwards.

The airline’s high rankings reflect its massive appeal across the globe. Facebook is the world’s leading social networking site, and it ranks second only to Google in website popularity across all categories.

AirAsia has attracted large followings on its other new media and social networking sites that include http://youtube.com/amazingairasia, which showcases AirAsia videos; http://twitter.com/airasiadotcom, which has 15,500 followers and provides updates on news as it happens; and http://flickr.com/airasia, which posts AirAsia photos. Tony’s own http://twitter.com/tonyfernandes has approximately 6,500 followers. YouTube, Twitter and Flickr are the world’s 4th, 14th and 32nd most popular websites, respectively, according to independent internet site ranking provider alexa.com.

AirAsia’s spirit of innovation has been a large component in its success and greatly differentiates it from other companies. It has put in place a strong Innovation, Commercial and Technology team to spearhead its initiatives in new media and keep up with technological trends. This focus on innovation has earlier seen AirAsia become the first airline in the world to allow mobile booking via SMS and to succeed, through its affiliate AirAsia X, in running low-cost long-haul flights.

Tony said, “AirAsia’s culture of innovation called on us to explore and fully utilize new media and social networking as communication and marketing tools. By adopting these, we ride on technology to very quickly and conveniently give tens of thousands of people constant up-to-the-minute updates about AirAsia. In turn, these people – social networkers – help us tremendously by spreading word about our services and providing feedback for our improvement. We’ve been directly interacting with people from all around the world, including those from places we don’t fly to yet, such as the United States.”

In a pleasant surprise for the airline, followers from the U.S. came up as the fifth biggest fan group on facebook.airasia.com. The biggest fan group is from Malaysia, followed by Indonesia, Thailand and Australia.

AirAsia’s new media and social networking ventures – launched to support the airline’s branding, marketing and communications strategies – have been warmly received by the public. AirAsia’s online projects, such as the So You Wanna be a Pilot campaign, generate mass appeal. The campaign, recognized by major media around the globe for its innovation, ran from March to mid-April this year and called for those interested in becoming pilot trainees to post their applications by blogging on AirAsia’s blog site. Three applicants who posted blogs were chosen as pilot trainees.

“New media and social networking have become integral parts of AirAsia’s growth. They help in our initiatives to socialize with key stakeholders and correspond with them in real time. These are definitely areas we’ll be getting much more aggressive in. We’re aware of the huge influence social networking wields on today’s consumers, whose use of the internet for information gathering, transactions and interactions is expanding,” said Tony.

To celebrate its achievements and 8th year anniversary, AirAsia is offering promotional all-in fares that start from RM 8 for domestic flights and from RM 25 for international flights. Guests must book seats online from 8 to 13 December 2009 and fly between 5 July and 30 October 2010 to enjoy the promotion. The special fares are for flights to destinations including Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Bali, Phuket, Taipei, Hanoi, Trichy, Abu Dhabi, Macau, Hong Kong and so many more. Guests may also book tour packages and hotel bookings on goholiday.airasia.com, AirAsia’s one-stop travel portal for over 180 Asia Pacific hotels.

Travel Blackboard

AirAsia to Link Phuket Daily Direct to Isarn's Heart

08 December 2009

AIRASIA is to create a breakthrough daily service between Phuket and Udonthani, in Isarn, from December 21.

The ''now everyone can fly'' budget line is the first to offer a direct flight to the heart of the provinces that are home to many hospitality workers on Phuket.

It was a no-brainer, really. AirAsia's research confirmed that the route is likely to be in demand and become a quick money-spinner.

Most of the bar girls who work in Patong are reputed to be from Isarn, so the new service is bound to attract a ready-and-waiting list of passengers wishing to visit families.

And at the low cost of 1498 baht one-way, (that's today's dynamic price online) the buses are going to have serious competition.

Many expats who have settled with Thai wives live in Isarn, and so there should be a ready market for people keen to holiday by the beach but reluctant to take the bus on the long journet via Bangkok.

From December 21, Flight FD3984 will leave Phuket at 3.15pm every day and arrive in Udon at 4.55pm. Return Flight FD3985 leave at 5.25pm and arrive on Phuket at 7.05pm.

AirAsia is keeping good its promise to make Phuket a regional hub, constantly opening up new routes that will please everyone except the higher-priced rival airlines.

By Chutima Sidasathian
Phuket Wan

Air Asia Eyes The US Market

08 December 2009

NEW YORK- Malaysia and Asia's best-known low-cost carrier, Air Asia, has set its sights on the United States market.

Aviation experts here say that Air Asia could easily fill the vacuum left by the national carrier, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which recently discontinued flights to the east coast and closed its office in the Big Apple.

MAS however, still maintains its operations on the west coast, with flights to Los Angeles.

Datuk Tony Fernandes, Air Asia's chief executive, told Bernama in an interview in New York recently - he was a member of the entourage accompanying the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to the city - that he was "working" towards establishing a regular service to the east coast.

"We are very keen to enter the US market which has good business potential," he disclosed.

He hoped to start flights to an east coast airport, either New York or New Jersey, in 2010.

Ever since MAS stopped its service to the east coast, Malaysia lost an important connectivity with that part of the world.

"There are many foreign national carriers, which despite losses, maintain operations to this part of the world which is an important international service point.

"It is that proverbial pennywise-pound-foolish decision, that is likely to haunt MAS, because by withdrawing it will find it extremely difficult to come back and re-establish its position," said a New York based aviation expert who wished to remain anonymous.

Although Air Asia is a low-cost, "no frills" carrier, its arrival here would provide relief to travellers particularly Malaysians, who endure a great deal of inconvenience flying to back home via a third country.

Tony also discussed plans for the acquisition of new aircraft.

"Over the next 24 months, we will be having 32 aircraft of the A-320 type, most of which is to be used for India and China.We have 120 routes which will be increased.

"Air Asia Express will have six aircraft of the A-330 type, mainly for Sydney, Jeddah, Seoul and cities in India," he explained.

According to Tony, the airline also plans to start services to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hawaii.

However, things need to be sorted out first, at the government-to-government level.

The New York service will be an extension of Air Asia's service from London's Stansead airport.

Tony described the US market as "very good". "There are many students here.

"I am confident, many Americans will also use Air Asia to visit Asia and Europe. They can also get connectivity to Australia," he said.

Asked whether the smaller seat configuration on Air Asia's aircraft, which is fine for passengers on shorter routes, would be suitable for long-haul flights, he said: "The airline plans to change and improve the seating configuration for the long-haul sectors."

On Air Asia's cargo business, though negligible and not fully tapped yet - it accounts for less than one percent of the airline's business - he said that it would further grow in future.

"We are also preparing for that," he said.

Air Asia's total fleet of aircraft, including Thai AirAsia, AirAsia X and Indonesia AirAsia, comprises 85 aircraft, the majority of which are of the A320-200 type.

The fleet also includes some B737-300, A330-300, A340-300 and A350-900 aircraft.

By Manik Mehta


Friday, December 11, 2009

RM8 flights as AirAsia celebrates eighth anniversary

08 December 2009

SEPANG: AirAsia is offering all-in fares starting from as low as RM8 for domestic flights and from RM25 for international flights in conjunction with its eighth year anniversary celebrations and achievements.

The special fares are for flights to destinations including Kuala Lum­pur, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Bali, Phuket, Taipei, Hanoi, Trichy, Abu Dhabi, Macau, Hong Kong and others.

To enjoy the promotions, customers must book seats online from Dec 8 to Dec 18 and fly between July 5 and Oct 30 next year.

Guests may also book tour packages and make hotel bookings on goholiday.airasia.com.

Happy Birthday: Fernandes cutting a cake with AirAsia chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar and deputy group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun at the company’s anniversary celebration at the LCCT concourse, Sepang, Monday. Celebrating with them is Datuk Nicol David (left) .

Airline CEO Datuk Tony Fernandes also announced that AirAsia would be introducing Sydney and Seoul as its new routes in mid-2010 through the AirAsia X package, followed by 12 new routes in India.

On another matter, Fernandes said the airline’s website airasia.com had attracted 20 million unique visitors per month with its blogsite blog.airasia.com, ranking it as the world’s second most popular blog site by an airline.

“Tapping into the new media and social networking sites has given an advantage to AirAsia to keep its customers informed of the latest promotions and other updates.”

Announcing the recent success at its eighth year anniversary celebration here yesterday, he said: “AirAsia has attracted a large following using the Internet including those from places we don’t fly to yet, like the United States.”

The airline information dissemination system included updates in Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

AirAsia’s facebook at facebook.airasia.com has a fan base of some 100,000 since it was launched nine months ago.

The Star

AirAsia Plans To Fly To Seoul And Sydney By Middle Of Next Year

07 December 2009

SEPANG-- AirAsia is in the midst of securing rights to land in Seoul and Sidney by the middle of next year.

The budget airline is also spreading its wings in India to 12 new routes in 2010, said its group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.

He said AirAsia received tremendous response from the South Korean's Government, and it is in the process of obtaining approval for flight to Seoul.

"South Korea is the new country and they are very excited about it. As for India, it has been a very successful destination so far and we are looking into 12 new routes including Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai," he told reporters after celebrating AirAsia's eighth anniversary here Monday.

Todate, the budget airline flies to four destinations in India, Trichy, Trivandrum, Kolkata and Kochin, while its current destinations in Australia are Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne.

Tony said Thailand and Indonesia will also be two strong countries for AirAsia next year.

Commenting on the airline's outlook next year, he said AirAsia was confident it will be an "amazing year".

"For the past three quarters, we have recorded profit amid the sluggish economic environment, and the fourth quarter looks very strong," he said.


Flight night in Dewan over AirAsia

06 December 2009

Debate goes on and on about budget carrier and airport tax arrears

MALAYSIAN MPs have a love-hate relationship with AirAsia. Those who love the low-budget carrier are full of praise but those who are against it go all out to criticise the carrier, from its business model to airport tax arrears.

This mixed feelings towards AirAsia kept the debate in the House going till late at night last Tuesday.

So intense was the debate that Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia was forced to intervene, telling Wangsa Maju’s PKR MP Wee Choo Keong to go easy on the low-budget carrier.

“Yang Berhormat, please don’t go after AirAsia to the extent that it will have to close shop. It will be a problem for me as I always fly with AirAsia,” he said half in jest.

This remark took place when Wee was going after Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri while the latter was replying on a series of issues related to AirAsia raised during the debate on his ministry, ranging from advance purchase of air tickets to the airport tax that the budget carrier still owed to Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

Abdul Rahim earlier had told Wee during question time that AirAsia had paid MAHB RM111.6mil in airport tax after an incentive of RM25mil was given.

Wee raised the same issue during the debate on the Transport Ministry at the committee stage of the Budget.

“Why must AirAsia be given the incentive as the airport tax is actually paid by passengers? What is the rationale when a person can be dragged to court for owing the Government RM3,000 or even face bankruptcy, but AirAsia gets to enjoy an incentive to settle arrears since 2002?

“Is there any interest charged for the amount owed since 2002? Why is there no penalty?” he asked.

Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang) joined the fray by questioning the convenience fee charged by AirAsia on those who buy tickets using credit cards while Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Kurau) asked the Transport Ministry about floating price for AirAsia tickets.

Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) and N. Gobalakrishnan (PKR-Padang Serai), however, did not share the sentiments of Wee, Fong and Ismail.

Both had only nice things to say about AirAsia.

“We should not regard AirAsia as an enemy. It should be seen as a competitor company.

“We can learn from its achievement. It started from zero and look at where it is now.

“We should not link flying AirAsia with being less patriotic. Does flying AirAsia means one is not patriotic but flying MAS is? That is not the mentality of the 21st century... the Government is still subsidising MAS for its domestic flights.

“How long will this go on?” asked Salahuddin.

Gobalakrishnan hailed AirAsia for making it possible for people to travel cheaply.

“AirAsia has shown the way. Perhaps the ministry should consider giving two to three more licences to other new budget airlines,” he said.

The issue of independent power producers (IPP) saw Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin getting into a war of words with Machang MP Saifuddin Nasution Ismail of PKR.

“The way Machang puts it, it seems that the Government is stupid and merely make payments to the IPPs for nothing,” said Chin.

He also dismissed the MP’s claim that IPPs were getting excessive profits from their deals with the Government.

Saifuddin, however, claimed that it was so and cited an agreement between one IPP and the power authority in United Kingdom in which the company was only making a reasonable profit compared to the one signed with the Government.

“Apart from actual electricity consumption and capacity charge, there is payment for standby charge and the subsidy on gas which are not included in the agreement signed in UK. The agreements signed here are lopsided,” he told Chin.

“Prove your allegations. We can also discuss outside the House,” Chin replied.

The exchange of words between Chin and Saifuddin was so fiery that the Speaker had to stop Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh (BN-Putatan) from interjecting.

Despite that, Dr Marcus managed to do so and asked Saifuddin who was the Finance Minister who had approved the IPP agreements back in 1993 and was now in the opposition (referring to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim).

Dewan resumes its sitting tomorrow.

By Lee Yuk Peng

The Star

Budget airport deal shuts out Air Asia hopes

04 December 2009

But infrastructure firm WCT's shares get a boost on RM363m award

THE award of a RM363 million (S$148.5 million) contract for the first phase of a new low cost carrier terminal (LCCT) to a Malaysian infrastructure firm by airports owner Malaysia Airports Holdings (MAHB) appears to have shut out budget carrier Air Asia which had wanted to build the LCCT.

But it's boosted the fortunes of infrastructure firm WCT whose shares moved up 1.5 per cent to RM2.63 apiece.

On Wednesday, WCT told the stock exchange that it had been awarded a RM363 million earthworks and drainage job for the new RM2 billion LCCT by MAHB.

The contract is the first awarded by MAHB which has promised to deliver the LCCT - designed for 30-45 million passengers a year - by the third quarter of 2011. But its enforcement seems to have shut the door on budget carrier Air Asia which has been lobbying Prime Minister Najib Razak - most recently in New York last week - to take over the project.

The budget carrier, which will be the main user of the new terminal, feels that MAHB will not make the deadline and is likely to overshoot the RM2 billion budget, according to industry executives familiar with the matter.

According to the executives, Air Asia is also peeved that MAHB will not furnish an indemnity to the budget carrier in case of late completion.

The standoff, which has been going on for almost 10 months, illustrates the dynamic tensions between an entrepreneur-driven firm and a government-linked company that doubles as the operator and owner of almost all the nation's airports.

But the award has also boosted the fortunes of WCT which most analysts have now rated a 'buy'.

The new contract will add to WCT's growing reputation as a can-do specialist whose resume for main infrastructure works include the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the Guthrie Corridor, a highway, and the Medini precinct in the Iskandar Region.

It is also represented overseas but, to widespread analyst approval, has no exposure to Dubai which has been roiled recently by the debt problems of Dubai World. Instead, the firm has RM914 million worth of contracts in the oil producing Gulf kingdoms of Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain which are cash-rich because of petrodollars.

According to analysts, the new award will push WCT's outstanding order book to RM3.6 billion.

According to AmResearch, the firm is trading at 13 to 15 times 2010/2011 earnings which is at a 5-27 per cent discount to its peers like IJM Corporation and Gamuda. The research house pegged WCT's fair value at RM3.74 a share.


The Business Times

AirAsia to add more flights to HK

03 December 2009

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia will increase direct flights to Hong Kong to three times daily from the current two.

The no-frills airline will be introducing all-in-one fares — from as low as RM129 — in conjunction with the increase, it said in a statement.

The third flight will commence on Jan 21 and are open for booking from today to Monday for travel period of Jan 21 to Oct 30.

The promotional seats are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis.

The seats can be booked online via www.airasia.com.

The Star

Saturday, December 5, 2009

AirAsia Never Given Preferential Rights To Owe RM65 Mil Airport Tax, Dewan Rakyat Told

01 December 2009

KUALA LUMPUR-- Budget airline, AirAsia, was never given preferential rights to owe RM65 million airport tax but instead the low-cost carrier and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) have contrasting figures in the amount to be paid, the Dewan Rakyat was told on Tuesday.

However, as of September 2009, the airline had settled all its debts to MAHB totalling RM112.06 million, said Feputy Minister of Transport Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri when replying to Wee Choo Keong (PKR-Wangsa Maju) during question time.

Wee asked Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat why AirAsia was given preferential treatment to owe RM65 million airport tax paid by air travellers as of Feb 28, 2009.

He also wanted to know what action MAHB, Low Cost Carrier Terminal operator, took against AirAsia to recover the debt and what was the debt amount todate.

Abdul Rahim said the MAHB had given RM25 million discount to the airline from the actual debt amount.

While offering such incentives was a normal practice in the airline industry, the MAHB saw the incentive as a "win-win" situation as AirAsia had flew in large number of foreign tourists to the country, he said.

Responding to a supplementary question on AirAsia indulging in "deposit-taking", Abdul Rahim said other sectors, including the hotel industry, was doing the same thing.

On Open Sky Policy, the deputy minister said Malaysia is to sign Open Sky Policy agreements with several countries, specifically with Asean member states, soon.

The policy would be a boon to the tourism industy, he added.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Air Asia paid RM111 million in airport tax

01 December 2009

KUALA LUMPUR— The transport ministry today confirmed that the low cost carrier AirAsia had paid a sum of RM111 million to Malaysian Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) for airport tax arrears.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri told the Dewan Rakyat AirAsia owed the MAHB some RM132 million but the airline was given a discount for its efforts in encouraging tourist arrivals in the country.

He was responding to a question by Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong who had questioned why the airline was given a special privilege to owe airport tax.

The PKR man added that any incentive should be channeled to the people and not to AirAsia.

“They sold the ticket months in advance, I have nothing against this business model, but I am just worried that AirAsia is allowed to delay airport tax payment,” said Wee.

Early this year, the House was told that AirAsia owed MAHB RM65 million.

Last June, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the House that the airline was in negotiations with MAHB to resolve the airport tax issue.

Najib had said that MAHB did not take any drastic action to claim the arrears owed by AirAsia because it would only adversely affect the operation of the low-cost carrier terminal.

He added that it would also give a negative impact to MAHB as the operator and manager of airports.

AirAsia has also been pushing for reduction in airport tax at the low cost carrier terminal due to the limited facilities.

By Adib Zalkapli

The Malaysian Insider

AirAsia named Media's Brand of the Year 2009

01 December 2009

SINGAPORE - AirAsia will be named Brand of the Year at Media’s Agency of the Year Awards, to be held in Singapore on 9 December.

The Malaysian low-cost carrier is to be given the award for its achievement in building the AirAsia brand and expanding its international profile in a year when the economic downturn crippled demand for air travel.

AirAsia launched its first ever brand campaign in Asia in October to position itself as the world’s best low-cost airline and to place greater emphasis on its brand. The campaign aimed to shift consumers’ mindset of low-cost carriers by showcasing the carrier’s innovation, high-quality service and unique experience.

The airline this year also proved it had a solid grasp of the online space. Its latest push in November set a new international sales record, with almost 900,000 seats being booked in 48 hours after the launch of its ‘One million free seats’ campaign. The campaign website saw 300 million hits in the first 11 hours.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes told Media that not only had his company managed to overcome the dual challenge of economic uncertainty and the swine flu threat, it had also turned in another profitable year.

“While others are cutting back, this is the perfect time for us to project ourselves more aggressively and to come up with creative marketing campaigns,” said Fernandes. “A recession is a good time to grow the brand.”

Fernandes will collect the Brand of the Year Award at the Agency of the Year Awards dinner held in Singapore on 9 December.