Saturday, May 30, 2009

Passengers find good deals over airlines tussle

PETALING JAYA: The fight for passengers is getting more intense by the day and this week alone several airlines came up with their best deals to win over travellers.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has some attractive bargains if you catch them early.

One that stands out is the flight to London at RM888 one way all inclusive.

In the same segment, rival Emirates’ offer is at RM1,300 for a return trip to London minus surcharges and tax.

The all inclusive fare is RM1,720 with a minimum transit time of four hours in Dubai.

It also has an option for a stop-over in Dubai for an additional RM75.

AirAsia X’s offer is at RM575 one way excluding taxes to London via Stansted airport.

Both AirAsia X and MAS fly direct to Britain.

“Airlines really need passengers to fill capacity and they are dropping fares to stimulate demand. The fight is not just for leisure travellers but also corporate travellers that are looking for bargains,” an industry expert said.

Perth, which is five hours away from KL, has also seen a surge in the number of carriers plying the route which was traditionally only flown direct from KL by MAS.

AirAsia X made its debut on this route at the end of last year, followed by Singapore’s Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia this year.

There are now five carriers flying from KL to Perth, two (MAS and AirAsia X) of which are direct and three (Singapore Airlines, Tiger and Jetstar Asia) via Singapore.

Fares have dropped from nearly RM2,000 for a return journey to one way fares of less than RM300.

Due to the over supply, it would be no surprise if fares go down further in the coming months, especially if the economic crisis continues, the industry expert said.

With consumers spoilt for choice, is the market big enough for so many airlines?

None of the airlines want to say if they are flying full capacity or announce their load factor on their routes for fear of letting out competitive information.

But there is surely a market for everyone, it depends on how aggressive an airline is to stimulate demand, they say.

“Perth is good for us as we have the network to connect passengers from Perth to Malaysia and its domestic points, as well as beyond Malaysia. The demand in this market matches the number of fights that we are offering,’’ said Dr Amin Khan, a senior general manager at MAS in charge of network and revenue management.

A Jetstar Asia spokesman said its Perth-Singapore service, launched in December, “is performing well and to expectation.”

MAS flies nine times a week direct from KL to Perth, and SIA twice daily from Singapore-Perth.

AirAsia X, JetstarAsia, and Tiger Airways fly once daily to Perth.

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