Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tony Wins Frost & Sullivan Excellence Award

15 October 2009

KUALA LUMPUR -- AirAsia Bhd's chief executive officer Tony Fernandes was recently awarded the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Leadership Award.

The award, AirAsia said was presented to Tony for his exemplary leadership skills in driving excellence within the organisation.

"This testifies to our belief at AirAsia that when we work together, we can achieve anything," Tony said in a statement on Thursday.

Tony, it said has led the low-cost carrier into the world stage through innovative marketing that includes the offering of revolutionary low fares that come with premium products and services.

Beginning with only two aircraft, the airlines quickly expanded under his leadership, grown to approximately 80 new airbus A320 aircraft, 113 routes and a staff of 6,500.

Thai AirAsia on track for 2009 profit, Gol and Ryanair higher

15 October 2009

Thai AirAsia CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld, stated the carrier is “definitely making a profit for the year”.

Mr Bijleveld added, “how much of a profit...will depend on the load factor in the fourth quarter of the year”. The carrier is anticipating a load factor of 82-85% in the last quarter, and is on track to handle 5.2 million passengers for the year.

Malaysia's AirAsia meanwhile announced plans to launch daily services form Kuala Lumpur to Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and Kolkata on 12-Nov-2009, 16-Nov-2009 and 19-Nov-2009, respectively - see Route Changes Table for more information. The three new Indian services follow the launch of services to Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) in Dec-2008.

Gol and Ryanair higher

Shares in Brazilian LCC GOL jumped 8.9% yesterday, as Brazilian stocks rose the most in three months, due to increased confidence that an economic recovery is strengthening.

In Europe, Ryanair’s shares were 2.7% stronger, with easyJet’s shares edging up 0.3%.

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 14-Oct-09

Thursday, October 15, 2009

AirAsia’s three new daily flights to India

14 October 2009

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia will start daily direct flights to Kolkata, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) in India from Kuala Lumpur beginning November, the low-cost carrier said in a statement Wednesday.

It will be offering all-inclusive fares from as low as RM129 one-way for the booking period of Oct 15 to 20 to travel between Nov 12 and July 31, 2010 for Kochi; Nov 16 to July 31, 2010 for Thiruvananthapuram; and Nov 19 to July 31 for Kolkata.

AirAsia launched its first Indian route to Trichy, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Dec 1, 2008.

Wildcard a permanent fixture

14 October 2009

THE Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix wildcard programme is set to be a permanent annual fixture tied to the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) organised by the Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

And it doesn't matter if the AirAsia Malaysia 125cc GP Team evolves into a full-fledged racing team on the World Motorcycle Championships, as this programme will be geared as an incentive scheme for riders racing full-framed bikes locally.

The AirAsia Malaysia team, launched on Monday, will feature Elly Idzlianizar Ilias and Modh Zulfahmi Khairuddin as wildcards in the 125cc in this year's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on Oct 23-25.

It will be the first time since 2003 that a Malaysian rider will feature in the race.

Elly Idzlianizar Ilias (left) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin will be the Malaysian wildcards in this year’s 125cc class of the Malaysian Grand Prix.  — Pic: AIZUDDIN SAAD
Elly Idzlianizar Ilias (left) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin will be the Malaysian wildcards in this year’s 125cc class of the Malaysian Grand Prix. — Pic: AIZUDDIN SAAD

SIC chief executive officer Razlan Razali said riders from a new Supersports class of the MSS to be introduced next year will have two wildcard slots in the Malaysian Grand Prix to race for.

"The best rider under the age of 21 will ride as a wildcard in the 125cc class and the best rider above that age will get a wildcard in the new Moto 2 class," said Razlan.

The incentive scheme comes into place for next year's MSS series, from which the riders will win wildcard slots for the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.

This provides a more open opportunity than the wildcard programme this year, which was based on a five-month long selection and training programme through which Elly Idzlianizar and Mohd Zulfahmi progressed.

Razlan said for next year, Zulfahmi, 18, will be retained as a wildcard entry with the same format of selection (this year) to be used to identify another rider for an extra slot.

"We expect to place Zulfahmi, who is young and with potential, in three other races on the MotoGP calendar as a wildcard next year," said Razlan.

With main sponsors AirAsia already expressing interest in supporting a long-term project that could see the team running a full season in the 125cc World Championship in three years' time, development on the local front will be addressed by this new scheme.

"We expect that by 2011, Zulfahmi will already be fully developed and ready for a full season in the 125cc World Championship," said Razlan.

"We hope to blood the wildcard winners from the 2010 MSS season in some races in the Spanish or Italian championships.

"By using the Supersports 600cc class as a platform, we will be able to develop riders who can adapt quickly to the 125cc and the new Moto 2 class bikes."

Thai AirAsia builds Phuket's international potential

14 October 2009

PHUKET : Thai AirAsia intends to open more routes connecting Phuket directly with other Asian cities as it moves aggressively to develop its second hub on the southern resort island.

The no-frills carrier wants to link Phuket with Bali, Surabaya, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Manila through non-stop services as new city-pairs after the first links due to open in mid-November.

Chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said the airline was upbeat about the growth opportunities Phuket could provide in addition to its main hub at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Thai AirAsia is preparing to begin daily services on the Phuket-Hong Kong and Phuket-Jakarta routes on Nov 15, followed by flights from Phuket to Chiang Mai, Medan in Indonesia and Ho Chi Minh City in December.

Pending positive results, Mr Tassapon said the second set of direct air links with Asian cities could open in 18 months

"We need three or four months to prove that our decision to make Phuket our second hub is right commercially before we make further stride," he said.

"We could easily fly in 2,000 tourists a day from those foreign cities to Phuket, ramping up from 600 people a day initially we expect from the first batch of cities."

That means Thai AirAsia would need to base four A320 jetliners at Phuket to accommodate the direct connections, up from the two that it will station there in the next one or two months.

The sister carrier of Malaysia-based AirAsia, Asia's largest budget carrier, is also looking at other airports in Thailand including Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and U-tapao as potential hubs for new flight markets.

Chiang Mai is the most likely candidate for a third hub but Mr Tassapon stressed that the bulk of Thai AirAsia's services would continue through Suvarnabhumi.

"The problem is that we cannot open as many new routes through Suvarnabhumi as we wanted to as the network through Bangkok has thickened already," he explained, adding that the airline's fleet had also been growing and needed new routes to match it.

The airline now operates a fleet of ten Airbus A320s and six Boeing B737- 300s. Over the next two months it will take delivery of two new A320s. Next year it will receive eight more A320s and retire its six B737-300s, giving it a fleet of 20 aircraft, all A320s.

Mr Tassapon believes that its initial flights through Phuket will be 80% full, due largely to the high-season factor and heavy promotions.

"Phuket is a probably the second most well-known Thai city internationally, so that helps a lot to sell our flights," he said.

The airline has already sold more than 20,000 Phuket-Hong Kong tickets since they went on sale on Oct 5.

AirAsia links Jakarta with Ho Chi Minh City

Budget carrier AirAsia has officially opened its latest route between Ho Chi Minh City and Indonesian capital Jakarta, a month after it had a soft opening.

Dharmadi, PT Indonesia AirAsia president director said the carrier’s fifth route will operate four weekly flights that would bring more opportunities for travel between the two destinations and foster new economic tie ups between Vietnam and Indonesia.

The director told Thanh Nien the carrier’s occupancy was about 65 percent in a month of soft opening and expected it to reach 75 percent in a year. When this happened, the carrier plans to open a new route between HCMC and Bali, he added.

The carrier has no plans for other routes between cities in Vietnam and Indonesia. The low cost carrier operates daily routes from HCMC and Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand.

Last year, 30,000 Vietnamese visitors traveled to Indonesia and 22,000 Indonesia tourists arrived in Vietnam, according to the tourism ministrie

Air Asia X looks at Jeddah for second hub in Middle East

13 October 2009

Air Asia X, the long-haul budget carrier, is keen to add Jeddah as its second destination in the Middle East and has filed an application with its authorities.

If accepted, the airline hopes to launch its service to the Saudi city by the second half of next year, Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of Air Asia X, told Emirates Business on the sidelines of the Low Cost Airlines World Mena 2009 conference at Al Ain.

A possible third destination in 2011 would likely emerge from a non-GCC country, said Osman-Rani.

"I do think there's scope for a third. Probably not next year but certainly beyond that," he said.

He said the first hub in Abu Dhabi covered the Gulf, while Jeddah in Saudi was also a huge market. "There is a lot of room [for a hub] in a non-Gulf, non-Saudi area," he said.

"Assuming we get a good airport deal and get planes we would add a third destination in 2011," he said.

The airline will add three Airbus A330-300s this year at an approximate cost of $300 million (Dh1.1 billion), which has been financed by Barclays.

Air Asia X is nearly 50 per cent sold for the first month of its Abu Dhabi-Kuala Lumpur service that will start on November 23.

The route opened for sale in August. Malaysian passengers bought 55 per cent of the seats with the remaining sales coming from the UAE.

AirAsia launches first regional brand campaign in Southeast Asia

13 October 2009

SINGAPORE - AirAsia has rolled out its first brand campaign covering all its key markets in Southeast Asia.

Dubbed 'Have you flown AirAsia?', the campaign will launch across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia tomorrow and is touted as the airline’s largest and most extensive regional brand campaign to date.

The campaign aims to shift consumers’ mindset of the airline beyond that of a low-cost carrier and showcases the company’s "innovation, high quality service and unique experience", according to a release.

AirAsia’s media agency partner, PHD Singapore, worked with regional channel partners Star network, Discovery Channel and CNN, to roll out a TVC which was directed and produced by the late Yasmin Ahmad of Leo Burnett.

Besides the TVC, the campaign will feature other tactical executions including a series of vignettes featuring popular Star VJs around landmark music festivals and lifestyle events in the region, a series of graphic-based factoids on Discovery and an interview-styled advertorial featuring AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes on CNN.

The campaign, which runs until December, will also include print and online executions, including a dedicated microsite.

“Today’s consumers are easier to reach but much harder to engage. Therefore focusing on key channels, publications and social media networks that our target audience identifies with is key,” said William Low, AirAsia’s regional head of branding and culture.

“The integrated format in which we have launched this campaign is a great example of how television, print and social media can work together to engage well-travelled consumers today”, added Pat Lim, MD of PHD Singapore.

AirAsia Increases Frequency To Cater For Year End Holiday Demand

13 Oct 2009

KUALA LUMPUR -- AirAsia Bhd is increasing the frequency of flights from its Kuala Lumpur hub to Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to cater to the higher demand during the upcoming year-end holdiay and festive season.

The extra flights will open for sale on Oct 14 and service will commence from Nov 16 to Jan 6, 2010, said AirAsia in a statement today.

AirAsia is also increasing flight frequencies permanently to Johor Bahru and Penang from the Kuala Lumpur hub, effective Nov 19.

To celebrate the added frequencies, AirAsia is offering an all-in-fare from Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru, from as low as RM9.It is also scheduling flights from Kuala Lumpur - Penang from as low as RM29.

The promotion is from Oct 14-18 for the travel period from Nov 19 to July 31, 2010.

Promotional seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, and made exclusively online via and

"High loads and strong demand for these routes have encouraged us to add the extra flights," said the AirAsia's regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan.

AirAsia hopes to carry 24 million passengers by the year end.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AirAsia extends ‘Low Fare Madness’ until Oct 18

12 October 2009

PETALING JAYA: Air Asia has extended its “Low Fare Madness” special promotion until Oct 18.

This promotion, originally to end on Oct 11, is for the travel period from Oct 19 until Nov 19.

“The ‘Low Fare Madness’ deals have increased our sales tremendously over the past week, so we decided to reward our guests further by extending our offer for another week,” said AirAsia Group regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan in a press statement.

The promotion is available for destinations including China, Brunei, Philippines; as well as domestic destinations from as low as RM49 up to RM249, departing from various local departure points.

Promotional seats are limited and available on first-come, first-served basis and are available online via and

Guests may also purchase seats during this promotional campaign at Air Asia’s sales offices and sales counters in Malaysia.

Guests can book their packages to beaches, eco-tourism sites, heritage and other tourist destinations via

AirAsia the Official Airline of the ASEAN Basketball League

12 October 2009

AirAsia has signed up as the official airline partner of the ASEAN Basketball League. The airline will provide the teams of the ABL with free flights to their games throughout the region.

Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia, said, “AirAsia offers its extensive route network and great flight frequencies to ABL to help the league achieve its goals of bringing basketball to everyone, just as AirAsia brings low fares to everyone. AirAsia is proud to be associated with another initiative that aims to promote an ASEAN identity among the 600 million people of the region.”

AirAsia flies 113 routes to almost 60 destinations in all 10 ASEAN countries, and to China, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Through its low-cost long-haul affiliate AirAsia X, the airline reaches Australia, northern China, Taiwan, and Europe and soon the Middle East.

AirAsia has consistently supported sports through local and international sponsorships of teams and sports events.

Kuhan Foo, CEO of ABL, said, “AirAsia’s sponsorship of ABL brings the league closer to the center of the sporting arena. The airline’s great connectivity and flight frequencies will allow us to more easily bring the games to the various ASEAN cities that will be hosting us. These will also allow us to keep in closer touch with the fan bases that we expect to grow as ABL gains popularity. We will be holding games all over ASEAN. ABL aims to provide sports entertainment to the 600 million people in the region.”

Games for the ABL season will go on until February 2010. Semi-final play-offs will be held in late January and early February, and finals are scheduled in February 2010.

ABL, formed through a collaboration between Tune Sports and E-Live, is the first regional basketball league in ASEAN and is supported by the Southeast Asian Basketball Association. It was launched in January this year.

The ASEAN Basketball League currently counts six teams – the Philippine Patriots, Satria Muda BritAma (Indonesia), Singapore Slingers, KL Dragons, Brunei Barracudas and Thailand Tigers. The teams will compete in a home and away league format.

The games will be telecast by leading TV stations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore.

Jetstar looking long-haul again, but AirAsia one step (and two destinations) ahead with Paris Orly

Stocks in Australia jumped to a one-year high yesterday, following the unexpected fall in unemployment levels, leading the ASX to rise 72.90 points (1.6%). Shares of Virgin Blue Holdings advanced 8.5%, while Qantas gained 2.1%.

Jetstar is reportedly again considering opening a Southeast Asian base to facilitate its planned long-haul expansion into Europe. CEO, Bruce Buchanan identified Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia as possible locations for the base.

Next stop for AirAsia X: Paris Orly

AirAsia X is quickly taking the game away from Jetstar. The Malaysian-based long-haul LCC has been granted landing rights at Paris Orly Airport. Paris will be AirAsia X's second destination in Europe, after London Stansted. AirAsia’s shares gained 0.7% yesterday.

Global capacity increases in Oct-2009; intra Asia capacity up 7%

OAG meanwhile stated global airline capacity increased 1.0% year-on-year growth in Oct-2009, to 300 million seats worldwide, down slightly from the 1.4% growth in Sep-2009, with frequency remaining marginally down (-1%).

OAG added that intra-Asia capacity is up 7% in the month (with frequency up 6%), with capacity to/from Asia down 1.9% year-on-year. Within the Middle East, capacity was up 20%, with capacity to/from the Middle East increasing 11% year-on-year.

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 08-Oct-09

AirAsia, named Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier

Ceo Tony named is Travel Personality of The Year

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd was named the “Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier” while chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes was named “Travel Personality of The Year” by leading Asia-Pacific travel news publisher TTG.

AirAsia received the award for being the best in service, network and schedules; in dealings with travel agents for reservations, confirmations and commission payments; and in sales and marketing team professionalism. It won the same award in 2005 and 2008.

“AirAsia was unanimously named ‘Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier’ by the readers of TTG Asia, TTG China, TTGmice and TTG-BTmice who cast 43,000 votes in a poll held from June to August this year,” the company said in a statement yesterday.

“The award reflects the airline’s popularity among travel trade insiders and the travelling public.”

Meanwhile, TTG’s editorial board named Fernandes the “Travel Personality of The Year” for being the “most outstanding individual for taking proactive steps to develop the travel industry and for demonstrating innovation in his field.”

File picture shows Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes holding up a miniature AirAsia plane at a press conference in Colombo on August 18. - AFP

“Tony has led the airline in revolutionising air travel and popularising low fares that now allow everyone to fly,” the company said.

In the same statement, Fernandes said the award reflected AirAsia’s commitment to growing tourism in the region.

“While other airlines are contracting, AirAsia is expanding, believing that it is vitally important for Asia to receive as much support as it can get for the sustenance of its economies, including through growth in tourism.

“We have championed tourism in Asia by offering flights that are truly accessible to everyone,” he said.

The awards were held at the 20th Annual TTG Travel Awards 2009 Ceremony and Gala Dinner in Bangkok yesterday. About 700 travel industry professionals attended the event.

Air Asia can now fly to Paris

08 October 2009

PARIS: France has given the green light for Air Asia to land in Paris, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said here.

The Prime Minister said this was conveyed to him by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday during what he described as an "extremely good" between them at the presidential residence, Palais de l'Elysee near the Champs-Elysees in Western Paris.

Najib, who had called on Sarkozy at the end of his four-day visit to France, said further details on this will be discussed at the officers' level.

"What is important is that the President had agreed to a request that I raised during our meeting," he told Malaysian journalists at the Four Seasons Hotel George V late this evening before leaving for home.

On Tuesday, Najib raised Air Asia's application for landing rights at Orly Airport in Paris when he met with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

He impressed on the Fillon the fact that the airline is the Airbus A320 biggest customer in the world.

"It is therefore most appropriate that Air Asia's application be given consideration," Najib had told Malaysian journalists later.

Najib arrived in Paris on Oct 4, accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, In his entourage were Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman, Deputy Education Minister Dr Puad Zarkashi and Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.