Saturday, February 21, 2009

Now there’s no need to rush for seats on AirAsia

13 Feb 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: From Tuesday, AirAsia passengers need not rush to get a seat.

The airline has introduced its “Pick A Seat” service for all flights where every passenger would automatically be assigned a seat number when they make a booking.

Take your pick: Fernandes (seated right), AirAsia Bhd regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan, AirAsia chairman Aziz Bakar and the airline’s cabin crew introducing its latest product offering – Pick A Seat – which allows air travellers the opportunity to choose their seating arrangement for a fee.

For those who want a specific seat, they can either purchase a “hot seat” for RM25 one way or a “standard seat” for RM5.

They have the option of choosing a window or aisle seat or anywhere else.

The hot seats are those in the first five front rows and the two rows at the emergency exit. A hot seat comes automatically with express boarding facility.

The standard seat allows passengers to choose the other seats.

The Xpress boarding facility as a standalone service will be scrapped from Tuesday. Those who have already booked or paid through this facility will be given a hot seat. Those who do not like the seat assigned to them can change them.

“Passengers now have a choice on whether they want to sit by the aisle, window or anywhere else,” AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said at the launch of the service yesterday.

“The days of running to the plane or pretending to be a rugby player while trying to grab a seat are over.”

He said passengers had always wanted seating options as practised by long-haul services on AirAsia X flights.

“The response has been good so far with 7,000 choice of seats booked in five days.

The service was opened for sale from Feb 5.

On the 500,000 free tickets promotion, Fernandes said the response was “fantastic” with a record 279,000 seats sold in one day despite the economic downturn.

“We will not be cutting down on our plans. We believe we have the product that people want which can bring in more tourists,” he said.

He added that the new LCCT departure terminal would be ready by March 15.

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AirAsia X to lease 5 Airbus

12 Feb 2009

LONG-HAUL budget carrier AirAsia X wants to lease up to five Airbus A340-300s so it can fly to new markets in Europe and New Zealand, its chief executive said on Thursday.

'For the right price, we would like to lease five A340-300s, although they are in tight supply,' chief executive Azran Osman Rani told Dow Jones Newswires.

'Depending on the availability of the aircraft, we want to move to new markets like Germany, France and New Zealand.'

AirAsia X, the long-haul unit of Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd, currently flies to Australia's Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne, and Hangzhou in China. It will start flying to London next month.

The carrier currently has a fleet of three A330s and one longer-range A340.

An affiliate of regional low-cost carrier AirAsia and Virgin Group, AirAsia X was launched in January 2007. AirAsia and AirAsia X have common shareholders, including AirAsia founder and CEO Tony Fernandes.

Richard Branson's Virgin Group has taken a 20 per cent stake in AirAsia X.

More airlines are opting to lease aircraft than buy them as the global economic downturn puts a squeeze on corporate finances, Singapore-based aircraft leasing firm BOC Aviation said last month.

Azran has said previously that he sees 'a lot of business opportunities' despite the deteriorating global economy.

AirAsia X said last month it hoped to launch flights to at least three destinations in Japan by year-end

AirAsia Expects LCCT Issue To Be Resolved

12 Feb 2009

AirAsia Bhd hopes that the issue over a new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) will be resolved soon, its group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said today.

"It will be resolved at some stage," he said.

"The quicker the better. We got to move. I think every effort is being made to resolve it quickly," he told reporters after launching the airline's "Pick A Seat" service here.

The government recently turned down AirAsia's proposal to build a RM1.6 billion airports in Labu, Negeri Sembilan, but the low-cost carrier managed to win some important concessions in the process, said a recent news report quoting sources.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) will be given the task of building a new LCCT, which will be located near the present terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, the report said.

It added that AirAsia managed to get assurance about lower airport charges and tax, which it will negotiate with MAHB, and it, will be also allowed to provide some input on the specifications for the new LCCT.

AirAsia has been complaining about the charges at the present LCCT as it argued that with less facilities available, the airport charges and tax should be much lower than those imposed at KLIA.