Friday, November 27, 2009

Tourism Minister Asks Airasia To Operate KL-Chengdu Direct Flights Daily

23 November 2009

CHENGDU-- Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen has asked AirAsia to consider daily direct flights between Chengdu and Kuala Lumpur following the good response to the four times a week direct flights between the two cities.

She said the low-cost carrier launched KL-Chengdu and Chengdu-KL direct flights on Oct 20 with four flights a week and the passenger load had achieved 80 per cent.

"I believe the tourists' flow between the two cities, visiting each other, will further increase. I hope AirAsia will operate one flight a day in the near future to allow more tourists from here to travel to Malaysia and vice-versa," she said after meeting Huang Yan Rong, the Vice-Governor of the Sichuan Province, Monday.

Dr Ng, who is on her working trip to China, said she was looking forward to enhance bilateral investments as well, as she saw the city had great potential for investments and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation had opened a representative office here for the same reason.

Currently, 17 Malaysian companies have invested in electronic manufacturing industries and the education sector here.

The Minister also encouraged investors here to invest in Malaysia as the economic sectors have been liberalised to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership.

Huang said the earthquake on May 12 last year brought great impact to the tourism industry here to the extent that tourism revenue declined by 68 per cent.

She, however, said the tourism industry recovered rapidly after the provincial government accelerated restoration projects here.

"The province's tourism revenue between January and October has touched 1.25 billion yuan, an increase of 43.4 per cent. It is even higher than in 2007 before the earthquake," she said.

Huang also expressed her appreciation to the Malaysian government's support and assistance extended when the tragedy occurred.

On tourism, she said Malaysia was one of the most popular destinations for locals here to go for vacation.

With the bilateral cooperation with the tourism authorities of both countries, the Kuala Lumpur-Chengdu tourism industry would further flourish, she said.

Huang also asked Dr Ng to forward her proposal to set up a Malaysian consulate here to enhance bilateral collaborations in the economic, trade, tourism and cultural sectors.


AirAsia climbs; stock downgraded

23 November 2009

AirAsia Bhd, Southeast Asia’s biggest discount carrier, had its stock rating reduced to “sell” from “trading buy” at OSK Research Sdn Bhd on lower-than-expected third-quarter profit.

OSK also cut its earnings estimates by 31 per cent for 2009 and 46.5 per cent for 2010, saying “price undercutting and escalating crude oil would persist in the short to medium term.”

AirAsia climbed 1.6 per cent to RM1.30 in Kuala Lumpur trading at midday close.


AirAsia returns to net profitability in 3Q3009

23 November 2009

AirAsia stated it expects a further recovery in air travel demand moving forward, with CEO, Tony Fernandes, stating that "based on the forward booking trend, the underlying passenger demand in the fourth quarter is positive". He added, "while the airline industry is facing arguably the most difficult environment in recent memory, we see vast opportunities to grow our business".

The region’s largest LCC returned to net profitability in 3Q3009, traditionally the carrier’s weakest quarter, with a net profit of MYR130.1 million (USD38.5 million) aided by a 86% jump in ancillary revenues to USD38 million (compared to overall revenue growth of 4.5% to USD219 million) and rising passenger numbers (combined Group passenger numbers were up 24% to 5.9 million passengers, with the Malaysian operation's traffic up 19%), which more than offset a 27% reduction in average fares (for Malaysian operations) and a 11% yield reduction.

The carrier also benefited from the Malaysian Ringgit’s strengthening against the US dollar, which resulted in a translation gain of USD30 million.

Looking forward, AirAsia stated underlying passenger demand for 4Q2009 is positive, with the carrier remaining on course to achieve the Group’s target of carrying 25 million guests for the full year. The carrier added that its Indonesian and Thailand operations are performing well in 4Q2009 with high passenger growth rate and “encouraging” yield trend. Both the associates are expected to “show a respectable performance in the upcoming fourth quarter”.

AirAsia's share price was down 2.3% on Friday but has gained 48% since the start of the year, in line with the 45% rise in the broader market index, KLSE.

AirAsia share price growth: Jan-2009 to Nov-2009

Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Yahoo! Finance

Center For Asia Pacific Aviation

Tony Fernandes is orient aviation person of the year

23 November 2009

Tony receives Orient Aviation Person of the Year Award for 2009

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes received today the Orient Aviation Person of the Year for 2009 award for successfully leading AirAsia, which has in only eight years grown to become the world's best low-cost airline and Asia's largest.

Orient Aviation chief executive Barry Grindrod, in naming Tony the Orient Aviation Person of the Year, noted that Tony is the first individual whose airline is not affiliated with the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines to receive the award.

This is the 11th year that Orient Aviation, a globally-read Hong Kong-based aviation industry publication, has given the award.

Grindrod highlighted Tony's role in changing the face of aviation and benefiting travelers in the region.

"They [critics] said he wouldn't get the air rights, the business model would not work outside Malaysia, and that the major carriers would gobble up the fledgling carrier.? Today, there are many LCCs in the region, and AirAsia is leading the way.? Because of Tony and his hardworking team, there are tens of thousands of people flying for the first time. He has, quite literally, changed the way people live," Grindrod told media during the awarding event.

Tony has grown AirAsia into a world-class brand through innovative marketing that offers revolutionary low fares that come with premium products and services.? Working with the AirAsia slogan of Now everyone can fly, Tony has led the team in growing the airline, which has now flown more than 75 million guests and is linking cities across Asia Pacific.? The airline grew its fleet of two aircraft, one destination and staff of 250 to a fleet of approximately 82 aircraft, 113 routes to almost 60 destinations across Asia Pacific, and a staff of 6,500.

With AirAsia, travelers are able to enjoy great flight frequencies and a route network that spans across the ASEAN region (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines), Australia, China, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.? Through low-cost long-haul affiliate AirAsia X, which Tony founded, AirAsia guests are also able to connect to more destinations in Australia and northern China and to Taiwan, UK and, by November 23, the UAE.

Grindrod also pointed out how legacy airlines have followed AirAsia's lead and entered the low-cost travel market.

"Because of his vision, flair and marketing skills, the legacy carriers have adopted the 'if you can't beat him, join him' approach.? Just look at how many have entered the LCC market themselves through subsidiary carriers," Grindrod added.

Tony has entered business ventures aside from AirAsia.? Tony also leads Tune Group, which currently includes Tune Hotels, a no-frills hotel chain that offers "5-star beds at 1-star prices;" Tune Sports, which runs the ASEAN Basketball League; Tune Money, which caters to the financial needs of the underserved market at affordable prices; and Tune Talk, a mobile phone service that offers the lowest flat rate for calls.? Tune Group also has an investment in 1Malaysia F1 Team to support the 1Malaysia initiative and to provide an avenue for Malaysia to advance in the global sports scene.

Travel Blackboard

AirAsia to expand in Asia

23 November 2009

KOLKATA: AirAsia Bhd is gearing up for network expansion in India with more destinations after achieving a wide coverage in China.

The company currently has about 200 flights a week to seven cities in China.

AirAsia regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan, said the budget carrier had been looking at the Indian market for a long time and that it took a while to go there due to a lot of documentation issues.

“There is a lot of demand for flights between India and Kuala Lumpur. The expansion of the Indian routes will help open up the tourism industry in both countries and stimulate the labour market as well,” she told reporters in Kolkata last Friday at an event to commemorate the inaugural KL-Kolkata flight.

From left: Sanja Budhia, Kathleen Tan, Manabendra Mukherjee and Salman Ahmad lighting a diya, or oil lamp

Present at the event were Consul of Malaysia to India Sanjay Budhia, Tourism Minister of West Bengal Manabendra Mukherjee and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board deputy director for international marketing division covering South Asia, West Asia and Africa, Salman Ahmad.

Tan said the airline was looking to serve Bangalore and Hyderabad in India from KL next year and its associate AirAsia X would look to serve Mumbai and New Delhi.

“We have a hub in Bangkok within our network and we are planning to do the Bangkok-Kolkata, Phuket-Kolkata as well as Bangkok-Mumbai and Bangkok-Delhi routes,” she said.

Following the start of service to Trichy last year, AirAsia launched three new routes from KL to Kolkata, Kochi and Trivandrum which opened for ticket sales on Oct 15, 2009.

Kolkata is recognised as one of four major metropolises in India along with New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.

The city in West Bengal is home to renowned personalities like Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher Ramakrishna and film director Satyajit Ray.

Kolkata is a haven for food lovers and is well connected to many Indian cities as a majority of domestic airlines have direct services to and from Kolkata.

Tan said Kolkata was one of the busiest cities in India and there was demand for the Kolkata-KL route as it had not been served from KL directly in the last few years.

“We have sold over 30,000 seats as of today (Friday) for the new route. It is a significant achievement for this market,” she said, adding that the airline targeted various segments for this route, including those travelling for business, holiday or religious purposes.

AirAsia is confident the route will provide a boost for tourism and stimulate the economies of India and Malaysia.

Furthermore, the route provides a direct connection between West Bengal and Malaysia via the KL hub, which in itself is a gateway to many destinations across Asia, the UK and the Middle East.

“With Kolkata added to our extensive network, AirAsia is unlocking the potential of international air travel from KL to eastern India and its surrounding areas. We are thrilled to be serving Kolkata direct, a huge market that no other airline is serving direct,” Tan said.

For all the flights to India, AirAsia uhses the Airbus A320.

KUALA LUMPUR: Budget carrier AirAsia said Friday its net profit totaled 130 million ringgit ($38.4 million) in the third quarter, buoyed by rising passenger numbers and income from add-on services.

AirAsia's profit for the quarter through September marked a turnaround from a 466 million ringgit ($137 million) net loss in the same three months of last year.

Revenue for the quarter grew 4 percent to 740 million ringgit ($218.5 million) on strong passenger growth.

Its combined Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai operations carried 5.9 million passengers, up 24 percent from a year eralier, AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement.

"While the airline industry is facing arguably the most difficult environment in recent memory, AirAsia is determined to grow traffic, market share and profits," Fernandes said.

Ancillary income from new products and services offset the impact of lower fares, and jumped by 86 percent to 130 million ringgit ($38.4 million) in the latest quarter, the statement said.

AirAsia remains on course to carry 25 million passengers for the full year, Fernandes said. It also expects to launch new routes to Indian cities as well as boost flights to Singapore, China and various Southeast Asian countries.

The carrier has partially hedged its fuel requirements for the fourth quarter to mitigate the effect of oil price volatility and is assessing the possibility of further hedging beyond 2009, Fernandes said.


Off to a flying start by blogging

21 November 2009

THE online media poses many possibilities, from rising to stardom or applying for a dream job with just a click.

However, the idea of being recruited as a pilot through a blogging contest seems a bit far-fetched.

Never did AirAsia’s So You Wanna Be A Pilot contest winners Samuel Yee and Soon Chee Keong imagine they could achieve their dream of becoming a pilot by winning an online contest. That is, until they were announced the winners.

It did not help that Soon was informed on April Fool’s Day and he initially thought it was a prank.

The sky’s the limit: Soon (left) and Yee raring to take off.

“When I realised that I had really won — it was listed in the results; this was not an April Fool’s joke — I was screaming in class.

“My friends were sceptical at first, thinking, mistakenly, that I had been recruited as a pilot by just blogging.

“However, this is just an express ticket; it does not mean I can automatically become a pilot. I will still have to go through all the interviews and tests,” he said, adding that he had applied to be a pilot a year ago but failed the written test.

He said after applying to be a pilot through the conventional way, the waiting was painful.

“You either hear from them that you had made it or you don’t ever hear from them,” he said. “With the blog contest, at least you’ll know whether you’ve made it when the results are announced,” he said.

Yee, who learnt of the contest from friends, had never blogged before but decided to give it a go in a bid to realise his dream of becoming a pilot.

At the age of 27, he was considered ineligible by some airlines that prefer applicants who are below 26.

“I’ve tried numerous times and have applied to MAS and SIA.

“If I had not made it this time, I would have applied again next year,” the determined Yee said.

He chose to blog about the aircrash at Narita airport in Japan and highlighted the role of pilots in such an incident.

The duo were chosen from more than 300 blog entries submitted to AirAsia’s official corporate blog “Just Plane Thoughts” (

It all began when Derek Tan Yeong Par of AirAsia’s interactive marketing department mooted the idea of developing things through social media to his boss, AirAsia founder Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, and was given the green light.

“Airlines have strict requirements and look for those with the best results.

“(With this contest), we’re using a fun approach to recruit pilots. Instead of getting them to send their CVs, I said, ‘Let’s look at the person behind the resume.’

“This is a step of trust for the candidates to pre-qualify themselves. We believe that people are mature enough to use social media to apply for a job,” he said.

The result was overwhelming.

“It was picked up by Reuters and a newspaper in Singapore. It was hyped up within the aviation circles and discussed in aviation forums and blogs in Russia, Japan and China.

“The hits reached 20,000-30,000 within just a few days,” he said.

Of the more than 300 blog entries received, 35 were shortlisted. After numerous rounds of interviews and selection processes, three were chosen. However, one turned down the offer at the last minute.

There were even entries from Japan, Singapore, Africa, Spain and other countries although it was stated that only Malaysians were eligible to apply.

Tan was inspired by his brother, who had applied to be a pilot many times before succeeding.

“There’s a new paradigm shift. The human side has been neglected.

“Being a pilot is not only about having good grades but being able to handle emergency situations in the airplane and think on the spot.

“The blogging contest provided us a chance to know the applicant’s determination and decision-making ability. We could analyse the person’s character through the writing,” he said.

Tan revealed that in some cases, the parents were more anxious than their children.

“(After the results were out) some even called up to ask why their child had not made the cut.

“We also tell those who were not selected where they were lacking,” he said.

Soon and Yee will be heading to Gold Coast, Australia, for a year of training before reporting back to AirAsia for another year of training.

The contest not only provided the chance for the duo to realise their dreams but also inspired others.

“During the contest period, we (applicants) inspired each other and some said they are now more determined to pursue their dreams,” Soon said.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ancillary income boost for AirAsia

21 November 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd reported a net profit of RM130.1mil for the three months ended Sept 30 on a 4.5% growth in revenue to RM739.7mil against RM707.9mil a year ago.

“The growth in revenue was attributed to higher ancillary income and other operating income,” it said.

The carrier’s core operating profit was RM34mil, a reversal from a loss of RM82mil in the previous corresponding period. In addition, the ringgit’s strengthening against the US dollar resulted in a translation gain of RM102mil during the quarter.

It recorded a pre-tax profit of RM136.3mil from a pre-tax loss of RM504.3mil and earnings per share climbed to 5.3 sen from a loss per share of 19.6 sen before.

AirAsia’s passenger volume grew 19% to 3.6 million from 3 million a year ago. Its average fare was lower at RM142 while load factor remained at 75%.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, AirAsia’s net profit rose to RM472.4mil, or 19.2 sen per share. Revenue was up 18.1% to RM2.3bil from RM1.9bil previously. Its core operating profit was RM328mil for the nine months against a loss of RM35.3mil a year ago.

“The group unwound fuel hedges in the second quarter ended June 30 at a cost of RM6mil. The ringgit strengthened against the US dollar and this resulted in a translation gain of RM24mil during the period,” it said, adding that AirAsia also registered a gain in the non-recurring items related to the disposal of assets during the period.

The carrier said its net cashflow was RM296mil, an increase of RM285mil against the preceding quarter. “The significant increase in net cashflow stems from the group’s capital raising exercise which raised net proceeds of RM505mil,” it said.

Meanwhile, the group’s total debt as at Sept 30 stood at RM7.2bil. Its net debt after offsetting the cash balances amounted to RM6.7bil, translating to a net gearing of 2.6 times.

The Star

AirAsia launches new flights to three Indian cities

21 November 2009

SEPANG: AirAsia is set to be the most connected non-local airline in India with nine new destinations.

Three new flights to the Indian cities of Kochi, Kolkata and Trivandrum were launched in Kolkata yesterday, adding to AirAsia’s existing destination of Tiruchirappalli, which was launched last year.

“AirAsia is now operating in a market of 2.5 billion people and it is a nice position to be in,” said AirAsia CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes in a press conference yesterday.

The low-cost airline also operates flights to China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, United Kingdom and the Middle-East.

CEO of the Year: Fernandes speaking at a press conference yesterday.

Fernandes was watching the launch via video conference at the AirAsia office in the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal here before the press conference.

Flights to Kochi and Kolkata will operate daily while there will be two flights to Trivandrum operating two or five times weekly.

Fernandes also announced three more flights to Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad starting from April next year.

The three cities would be connected to Kuala Lumpur, with an extra flight to Chennai from Penang.

Fernandes also said that there would be flights to Mumbai and Delhi towards the end of the year by AirAsia X.

“About eight to 10 aircraft will service the routes once a day,” Fernandes added, saying they were also looking to fly to Delhi, Kolkata and Amritsar from Bangkok.

“The Indian middle class is growing fast. With our low fares, we can offer them a lot,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes was also presented the Airline CEO of the Year award by Hong Kong- based commercial aviation magazine Orient Aviation.

This was the first time the award was presented to a non-member of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, whose members include MAS, SIA and Cathay Pacific, among 14 others.

By Shaun Ho, The Star

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Malaysia AirAsia swings to Q3 profit; upbeat on outlook

20 November 2009

* Q3 net profit 130 mln rgt vs loss 465.5 mln rgt yr ago

* Q3 revenue 739.7 mln rgt vs 707.9 mln rgt yr ago

* Q3 passenger volume up 19 pct on-yr, avg fare down 27 pct

* Q3 forex translation gain 24 mln rgt

* Shares end down 2.3 pct at 1.28 rgt ahead of results (adds quotes, comment, details)

KUALA LUMPUR- Southeast Asia's largest budget carrier AirAsia Bhd (AIRA.KL) flagged on Friday a further recovery in air travel demand after reporting a profit in the third quarter, helped by higher sales of non-ticket items.

Airlines globally have struggled in the past year as the economic crisis sapped demand for travel and trade, but budget carriers have largely outperformed as passengers look to cut costs. "Based on the forward booking trend, the underlying passenger demand in the fourth quarter is positive," Tony Fernandes, group CEO of AirAsia, in a statement.

AirAsia booked a net profit of 130 million ringgit in July-September, against a loss of 465.5 million ringgit a year earlier.

AirAsia's average fare fell 27 percent to 142 ringgit in the third quarter, but the 86 percent jump in ancillary income, or income from sources other than ticket sales, more than offset the lower fares.

Ahead of the results, 16 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast that AirAsia will book a full-year net profit of 521.5 million ringgit versus a loss of 471.7 million in 2008.

Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) and Korean Air Co (003490.KS), two of Asia's biggest airlines, last week flagged a recovery in travel demand after their quarterly results showed some signs of improvement. [ID:nSP492399]

"While the airline industry is facing arguably the most difficult environment in recent memory, we see vast opportunities to grow our business," Fernandes said.

The budget airline will launch several new routes over the next 12 months, including to several Indian cities, he added.

AirAsia has secured 20 percent of the airline's fourth quarter fuel needs at an average fixed swap rate of $74.98 per barrel.

Analysts said AirAsia is well-positioned to benefit from more tourist traffic into Singapore when the two integrated casino resorts open their doors to the public in early 2010.

AirAsia's share price has gained 48 percent since the start of the year, in line with the 45 percent rise in the broader market index .KLSE.

Out of 18 analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, nine had strong buy or buy calls for AirAsia. (Reporting by Julie Goh; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

AirAsia plans Thai, Indonesia listings - paper

20 November 2009

KUALA LUMPUR- Malaysian low cost carrier AirAsia (AIRA.KL) plans to list on the Thai stock exchange and later on in Indonesia, its chief executive Tony Fernandes told the Business Times newspaper.

"The plan is to list AirAsia group in Thailand and later in Indonesia," Fernandes told the paper in an interview published on Friday ahead of the company's third-quarter earnings.

Fernandes said the move would enable AirAsia to tap into other liquid Asian stock markets and said the airline was "looking at issuing new shares".

Malaysian bank CIMB (CIMB.KL) recently listed in Thailand.

AirAsia's share price has gained 52 percent since the start of the year, outperforming the 45.4 percent rise in the broader market index .KLSE.

(Reporting by David Chance; Editing by Valerie Lee) ((; +603 2333 8033; Reuters messaging; bureau email

Tune Hotels to add 64 by 2013

19 November 2009

Tune Hotels, controlled by Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia, has announced that a total of 64 hotels are currently under development across cities such as India, Thailand and Indonesia.

Presently, Tune Hotels operates seven hotels and a further 64 hotels are scheduled to be completed by 2013.

In addition, the group is planning to launch Tune Hotels in London, Melbourne and other Australian cities as AirAsia has recently commenced new flights to these destinations.

It was also reported that Singapore, despite its high development costs, and China are on the radar of the group.

Source : HVS International

AirAsia welcomes second Lat plane

18 November 2009

SEPANG: AirAsia paid tribute to one of Malaysia's greatest cartoonists, Dato' Mohd Nor bin Khalid, also affectionately known as Dato' Lat, by featuring his illustrations on one of its Boeing 737 aircraft.

On Tuesday, the low-cost airline paid tribute to the cartoonist once again but this time featuring his masterpiece on our brand new A320 aircraft.

When describing his work then, Lat explained, "I have wanted the characters and storyboard to reflect the culture, and the way of life of Asean people as what AirAsia has grown to become. My vision was for the people of ASEAN to identify with the characters on the plane."

Lat's colourful characters and universal stories have always captured the very ideals that make up Malaysia's unique multi-racial society; celebrating our differences as well as our similarities.

"These are also the very ideals that have helped AirAsia grow into the Truly Asean airline that we're proud to call ourselves today.

"We have an Asean crew and an unparalleled route network that brings the rest of the world closer to the region, so it's only fitting that we invite Lat back to illustrate another aircraft with his timeless art.

"Now that we're an Asean airline, our dream has been realised and Lat helped us realise that dream," says Dato' Sri Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia, in his welcome speech.

"We are proud to be associated with someone as talented and well loved across the Asean region. With the aircraft flying all over ASEAN, we believe that his creativity will inspire other young artists to greater height," concluded Tony.

Also present at the ceremony was surprise guest Sir Bob Geldof who paid a visit to AirAsia while in town to speak at the Youth Engagement Summit 2009, Dato' Kamarudin bin Meranun, Deputy Group CEO of AirAsia and AirAsia' esteemed Board of Directors.

AirAsia to fly Melbourne-KL twice daily

18 November 2009

Malaysian-based low-cost airline AirAsia will boost services between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne by offering two return flights daily.

From February 2, AirAsia will increase its frequencies to Kuala Lumpur to 14 flights weekly in response to increased passenger demand.

To celebrate the extra flights, AirAsia is offering fares from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur from $119* one way. The sale runs until November22 for the travel period between February 2 and 28 and July 2 and 30.

AirAsia X GM Australia Darren Wright said the increased service will not only give passengers better two-way connectivity, but will reduce transit times when connecting to further destinations and beyond including London, China and the Middle East and other routes serviced by AirAsia’s growing network.

“We’re delighted with the success of the Kuala-Lumpur – Melbourne route and there’s no better way to celebrate our new double daily flights than with a sale starting from $119* one way.”

*Terms and conditions. Flights and fares are subject to availability. Seats are limited and are only available on flight numbers D7 2724 and D7 2725 (Friday and Sunday) between 2 – 28 February, 2010 and 2 – 30 July, 2010. Fares include airport taxes. Convenience fee is applicable for online bookings made from 2 November, 2009 onwards made by credit, debit or charge card. Other terms and conditions apply. Booking period 16 – 22 November, 2009. Travel period 2 – 28 February, 2010 and 2 – 30 July, 2010. Lowest possible sale fares are one way on the web. Next best possible fare available via phone with additional $25 service fee. All amounts are in Australian dollars unless stated otherwise.

Air Asia Flying To Jeddah Starting 2010

17 November 2009

PUTRAJAYA-- Air Asia Bhd will be flying to Jeddah starting next year, said its Group Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes at the Youth Engagement Summit 2009 (YES 2009) held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) Tuesday.

According to Fernandes, the low-cost carrier was now in the midst of waiting for approval from the Saudi government to start its operations for the route.

"The Saudi government has been very kind and I am pretty sure that everything will take place by next year," said Fernandes during the summit's economy roundtable session.


New LCCT To Be Ready By End Of 2011

17 November 2009

KUALA LUMPUR-- The building of a new Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) will be completed by the end of 2011 although its construction faced some delay, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.

This was established at a weekly meeting between the project's management consultant and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) on Nov 10, he said when replying to a supplementary question by Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) in the Dewan Rakyat here Tuesday.

"The project's progress should be 15.5 per cent but right now it is 13.5 per cent. Based on the current status the delay is two per cent or 18 days," he said.

The delay was caused by the delay in approval by the Finance Ministry for certain packages besides delay in design and procurement for the control tower, said, Abdul Rahim.

In that regard, he said the ministry will monitor the progress of the project which was now in the design preparation stage.

When answering the original question by Datuk Ab Halim Ab Rahman (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) as to whether the number of AirAsia passengers would be between 10 and 15 million by 2015 as well as the government's action to build or expand the LCCT, he said the new LCCT could handle up to 30 million passengers a year.

The government agreed to the project after we found the number of AirAsia passengers was rising and we estimated it can reach up to 15 million by 2015," he said.


Lotus feel weight of famous name

17 November 2009

The bosses of the new Lotus Formula 1 team admit they are feeling the pressure to succeed that comes from bearing such a famous name.

The Lotus brand, now owned by Malaysian car company Proton, is returning to F1 for the first time since 1994, when the team collapsed for financial reasons.

Design boss Mike Gascoyne said: "There is a pressure to perform and you feel it. Group Lotus want us to perform.

"But I think we will because of the quality of people we're attracting."

The brand won seven world drivers' titles in its former incarnation of Team Lotus before going out of business in 1994, and Gascoyne said the heritage of the name was creating great interest in the new team, which is backed by a consortium of Malaysian businesses.

Team boss Tony Fernandes, founder of the low-budget airline Air Asia, said he was determined to live up to the responsibilities that come with bearing such a famous name.

F1 legend Jim Clark in a Lotus in 1967

"We are very wary of the historic heritage and we want to support that," he said.

"It is a very special heritage. Even the choice of the colour [of the car] is going to evoke enormous debate. We are trying to make sure we keep that heritage from a marketing and branding aspect."

And Gascoyne believes the drive to cut costs in F1, and the pull-out of car manufacturers Honda, BMW and Toyota, is bringing the sport back closer to the way it was when Lotus were successful in the 1960s and '70s.

"F1 has changed over the last few years and is changing to reduce costs," said Gascoyne, who has carved a strong reputation in F1 as technical boss of the Renault, Toyota, Jordan and Force India teams.

"Really over the last 10 years it had become a spending competition.

"Lotus and [founder] Colin Chapman were about engineering innovation. I think it is the right moment for Lotus to be coming back because hopefully that's the way F1 is going to go.

"Small teams, being innovative and good engineering, is really my background, that's what excites me about coming back to F1 with a new team, and that is how we want to work."

We won't be at the front realistically, but we have a great platform to build on
Tony Fernandes
Lotus F1 team principal

The Lotus car company has no stake in the team, but it has given them permission to use the name - and, further emphasising the links with the past, the Chapman family has provided some historic cars to display in the factory in Norfolk.

The team is located not far from Lotus Cars' UK headquarters and the original base of Team Lotus.

Lotus were only given an entry in September, and there is a distinct last-minute feel about the base.

The small, ageing industrial unit on the edge of the village of Hingham - formerly the base of the TOM'S Toyota Formula Three team and the Bentley Le Mans programme - is an incongruous setting for a 21st century F1 team.

The entrance is still a distinctly old-fashioned self-locking revolving door, operated by a manual switch behind the reception desk. And there was wet paint on the floors when BBC Sport visited last week.

It is a long way from the state-of-the-art factories of teams such as McLaren and Renault, but it is only a small part of the Lotus F1 structure.

There is also a design office in Cologne in Germany, the aerodynamics are being done by a company in Bologna in Italy and the team are setting up a new headquarters at the Malaysian Grand Prix circuit outside Kuala Lumpur.

A wind-tunnel model of the new Lotus F1 car
Lotus's new car has undergone wind-tunnel testing in Italy

Eventually, the entire operation will be based in Malaysia, with a satellite base in the UK for logistical and technical reasons - that is where much of the F1 industry is based.

And while Gascoyne and Fernandes are aware of the ad hoc nature of their set-up, there is no mistaking the seriousness of their venture.

Fernandes says: "We are coming from where there wasn't a team, so that is a victory already - the fact that Lotus is back on the grid.

"Of course we'd like to be winning, but we have to be realistic - that's not going to happen.

"Lotus had their highs and towards the end some lows, and then disappearing.

"We won't be at the front realistically, but we have a great platform to build on, we have a great brand and a name, and we're saying to the fans: hang in there, ride with us and enjoy the revival, because there is nothing like being an underdog and rising up.

"I don't feel a lot of pressure, to be honest. I'm thrilled we're be on the grid - thrilled we'll see a Lotus car and we're involved in it and hopefully that will evoke Lotus road cars to come back into fashion in a big way."

"I hope we'll go from strength to strength, but nobody should think we'll be challenging McLaren or Ferrari in Bahrain - but we will. We're in it to win, but it will take time."

Gascoyne added: "We have set a clear target of being the best of the new teams on the grid, and I think we should be able to do that. We want to be going into Q2 in Bahrain. We'll have to beat one or two of the other [established] teams to do that, but that's where I want to be from day one.

By Andrew Benson

Thai AirAsia – Siam Ocean World released Brown-Banded Catshark to the sea in Phuket

16 November 2009

Thai AirAsia together with Siam Ocean World, yesterday organised a “Brown-Banded Catshark Release”. An event took place at Panwa Cape, Phuket by the the support of Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC). Two Thai stars, Chatayodom Hiranyatsathiti (Chai) and Cherman Boonyasak (Ploy) were special guest that could draw many attention from the press.

Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia said 5 three year-old Brown-Banded Catshark were released back into the sea. The event is the beginning for people to create conscious awareness about peace and the environment just like Thai AirAsia who started with only 2 airplanes providing service from Bangkok to Chaing Mai and to Phuket.

Thai AirAsia is now most welcome by the passengers who seeking for an acceptional low-cost airline.

November 15th is also a special occasion for passengers since Thai AirAsia decided to make Phuket its second hub launching total 8 routes direct flight daily from Phuket to Bangkok, Chiangmai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Medan.