29 June 2009
SEPANG, Malaysia - Indonesia AirAsia is all set to commence daily flights between Jakarta and Manila in September, competing against the lone budget carrier servicing this route, a top official of the airline said at the sidelines of a partnership unveiling with the Oakland Raiders here on Friday.
"We are just finalizing some things but we are ready to begin our Manila service in September," Indonesia AirAsia president director Dharmadi told abs-cbnNEWS.com, noting that the new service signifies their optimism that demand for low-cost travel will be sustained this year.
Dharmadi said they are hoping to capture a substantial share of the volume of passengers traveling back and forth Jakarta and Manila, a route currently dominated by Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific.
The Philippines is just one of the new destinations Indonesia AirAsia is adding in an effort to grow its regional services. The airline is also flying to Denpasar-Perth, Australia starting July, and Saigon, Vietnam beginning September.
It is also boosting services on existing routes. Its Jakarta-Singapore and Denpasar-Singapore flights, for instance, would be doubled to 4 times a day while its Kuala Lumpur flights would be increased from 2 to 3 per day, according to Dharmadi.
While airlines worldwide cut capacity and ground planes to cope with the economic crisis, Dharmadi said Indonesia AirAsia continues to expand to take advantage of travelers' growing preference for budget carriers in order to trim costs.
"I think the crisis has affected long-haul flights. But for short-haul, the growth is stable in terms of capacity and load factor. Passenger volume is still growing," he said.
Dharmadi noted that they also remain unfazed by the spread of the A(H1N1) influenza virus across Asia Pacific where, based on data from the International Air Transport Association, a 14.3 percent drop in passenger air traffic was recorded in May.
"We are still expecting our passenger volume across the region to grow 5 percent this year," he said.
Dharmadi said Indonesia AirAsia is determined to bolster ticket sales through several measures such as scrapping administrative fees and surcharges to further reduce air fares.
"Lowering fares is the only way to get volume and encourage traveling these days," he explained.