04 September 2009
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — A cheaper passage to the Middle East is now open to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with a Malaysia-based budget airline opening direct Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi flight five times a week starting this November.
Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive officer of budget airline AirAsia X, the long-haul flight unit of Asian budget airline AirAsia, announced recently their online promotional offer of a number of seats through their website airasia.com, at a low, all-inclusive 99 Malaysian ringgits or 99 dirhams, equivalent to about P1,440, for one-way travel between Nov. 23 and July 31, 2010.
Osman-Rani said they are very optimistic about the new route, expecting it to boost tourism between Abu Dhabi and its neighboring emirates in the UAE and Southeast Asia.
He gave assurance that the seats for sale beyond the introductory promo will be 40 to 60 percent lower than those in the market.
“It is a promo price which we will keep revisiting similar to what we do with our other flights during our frequent promo sales,” he said.
Kathleen Tan, AirAsia group regional head for commercial, said the Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi route will be a big benefit for OFWs working in the Middle East, especially those bound for or working already in the UAE, especially in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, and even in neighboring states such as Bahrain and Kuwait.
“With our low fare, they can go home to the Philippines or send for their families to visit them more often because air travel will be more affordable,” Tan told The STAR.
AirAsia operates a daily flight to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.
Filipinos are second to Indians in terms of expatriate population working in the UAE, where 80 percent of the population comprises expatriate workers.
According to Dubai and Abu Dhabi-based OFWs, the usual fare going to the UAE costs from 2,400 to 3,000 dirhams (a dirham is worth P13.25 to P13.50).
The Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi route is the latest addition to AirAsia X’s long-haul flights operating out of Kuala Lumpur’s low-cost carrier terminal.
AirAsia X also flies to Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne in Australia; Hangzhou and Tianjin in China; Taipei, London, and now, Abu Dhabi.
The opening of the Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi flight was made possible with the support of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), which both expect the new route to boost tourism in the emirate.
Ahmed Al Haddabi, ADAC senior vice president for airport operations, said the AirAsia X flight from Kuala Lumpur could help them attain their goal of doubling the two million tourists they had in 2008 by 2015.
“We are ecstatic with our first long-haul route into the Middle East from Kuala Lumpur. This clearly indicates that our expansion plans are on track which represent our determination in providing truly low fare on our long-haul, low-fare services across the globe,” Osman-Rani said in ceremonies to formally launch the online sales of the Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi seats at the Shangri-La Hotel in Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi last Aug. 19.
Rani explained that the R99/AED99 offer was an introductory offer for about 10 percent of the seats during the concerned travel period.