27 April 2009
AIRASIA, Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier, has yet to see any sales slowdown despite the current economic situation, group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said today.
"There is no decline in any routes because of the low fares we offer and we fly to places that one go, such as Bandung, Banda Aceh and Vientiane," he said after announcing an alliance with Maybank and American Express on AirAsia's acceptance of Amex cards for bookings.
Also present at the event were Maybank executive vice president and head of cards and payments, Ashraf Ali Abdul Kadir, and American Express International senior vice president and head of global network services, Japan/Asia Pacific/Australia, Kula Kulendran.
Fernandes said that the investment in network expansion and a consistent low fares were also among the factors contributing to the airline's growth.
Despite the economic challenges, there was an opportunity to build market share, he said, adding that AirAsia has received good response for its latest route between Kuala Lumpur and Taipei, with more than 20,000 seats sold.
On fears that the spread of swine flu would hit the travel industry, Fernandes said AirAsia's sales has been unaffected by the virus because people will fly within Southeast Asia rather than in America.
"I am gloomy about the economy but I am not too worried about the pandemic because a lot of resources has been put in to stop it," he said.
According to Fernandes, AirAsia is positive on the company's growth and will continue to grow despite the economic challenges.
"We saw a 21 per cent year-on-year increase in our passenger volume for the first quarter of this year when we flew 3.1 million guests," he said.
On the partnership with Maybank and American Express, Fernandes said: "We are confident that this number will grow now that American Express cardmembers are able to easily book seats with us."
Commenting on the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT), Fernandes said that there was still no progress on the construction part, adding that the airport was crucial to enable Malaysia to gain opportunities.
It is understood that the new LCCT will be build by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and work is expected to start middle of this year, and scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2011.
Meanwhile, Ashraf Ali said that Maybank is working to ensure that payments with the American Express card are made available at AirAsia booking counters nationwide by middle of next month.
The first phase of this payment convenience will be offered for flights from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and for online payments, he said.
"Since Maybank acquired the American Express issuing and merchant business in Malaysia in 2006, we have continued to offer exciting programmes as well as expended the scope of facilities to cardmembers," Ashraf Ali said.
"This has resulted in a 93 per cent growth in card spending by American Express cardmembers in Malaysia," he said. --