01 June 2009
GEORGE TOWN: AirAsia will have a direct flight from Penang to Chennai latest by October.
AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandez said the Transport Ministry (MOT) has approved of its plan and the airline is currently ironing out the details.
“We hope to have a daily flight there and it will take three to four months to finalise the details,” he said during the Singapore - Penang inaugural flight celebration at the Penang International Airport Monday.
He added that air services was a competitive industry and the airline has grown up through competitions having only two air crafts when we first started.
“We’re looking for more destinations and we welcome friendly and fair competition,” he said.
He said the liberalisation of air routes would make air travel democratic and accessible to the public.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said Penang is one of the 13 cities in the nation with direct air link to Singapore.
“It will stimulate the local economy and benefit local people and the business industries as well as our counterparts.
“Now PIA provides 49 weekly flights to Singapore by Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia and Silk Air but it will have a sudden surge come next March where there will be 84 weekly flights, with the additional of three airlines - JetStar Asia, Tiger Airways and Firefly,” he said.
He added that the Singapore flights would open up more opportunities domestically and internationally.
Ong said the ministry is also looking into several more destinations in the region by various airlines but refused to divulge more details.
“It’s still too early for me to reveal more information now.
“When airlines make requisitions for certain routes, the MOT will go through the details before putting the papers up to the Cabinet.
“If MOT approved of such a move then it will seek Cabinet endorsement and subsequently negotiate with the country involved,” he said.
He emphasised that MOT was sensitive to the need of the people, industries and the economic needs at the moment but it is entirely up to the respective airlines to provide flights to certain places.
Ong, along with Health Minister who is also state MCA chief Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Fernandez and AirAsia chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar later presented goody bags to 180 passengers who arrived in the Airbus A320 from Singapore in the inaugural flight.
A total of 17,000 seats have been sold since the route was open for sale on April 27.
To mark the inaugural flight of the new route, AirAsia through its holiday division - GoHoliday is offering a buy one, free one room night stay at its partner hotels in Penang with the list available on the goholiday.airasia.com.
Later, Monday, Bernama reported from Sepang that Fernandes fainted at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) on his return from Penang.
AirAsia in a statement issued here Monday said Fernandes was taken to the Pusrawi Medical Centre at the KLIA main terminal building.
Doctors examining him blamed it on exhaustion and advised him to get some rest, it said.
The statement said he was resting at home after being given a clean bill of health by doctors this evening.