Saturday, December 5, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR-- Budget airline, AirAsia, was never given preferential rights to owe RM65 million airport tax but instead the low-cost carrier and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) have contrasting figures in the amount to be paid, the Dewan Rakyat was told on Tuesday.
However, as of September 2009, the airline had settled all its debts to MAHB totalling RM112.06 million, said Feputy Minister of Transport Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri when replying to Wee Choo Keong (PKR-Wangsa Maju) during question time.
Wee asked Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat why AirAsia was given preferential treatment to owe RM65 million airport tax paid by air travellers as of Feb 28, 2009.
He also wanted to know what action MAHB, Low Cost Carrier Terminal operator, took against AirAsia to recover the debt and what was the debt amount todate.
Abdul Rahim said the MAHB had given RM25 million discount to the airline from the actual debt amount.
While offering such incentives was a normal practice in the airline industry, the MAHB saw the incentive as a "win-win" situation as AirAsia had flew in large number of foreign tourists to the country, he said.
Responding to a supplementary question on AirAsia indulging in "deposit-taking", Abdul Rahim said other sectors, including the hotel industry, was doing the same thing.
On Open Sky Policy, the deputy minister said Malaysia is to sign Open Sky Policy agreements with several countries, specifically with Asean member states, soon.
The policy would be a boon to the tourism industy, he added.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
01 December 2009
KUALA LUMPUR— The transport ministry today confirmed that the low cost carrier AirAsia had paid a sum of RM111 million to Malaysian Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) for airport tax arrears.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri told the Dewan Rakyat AirAsia owed the MAHB some RM132 million but the airline was given a discount for its efforts in encouraging tourist arrivals in the country.
He was responding to a question by Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong who had questioned why the airline was given a special privilege to owe airport tax.
The PKR man added that any incentive should be channeled to the people and not to AirAsia.
“They sold the ticket months in advance, I have nothing against this business model, but I am just worried that AirAsia is allowed to delay airport tax payment,” said Wee.
Early this year, the House was told that AirAsia owed MAHB RM65 million.
Last June, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the House that the airline was in negotiations with MAHB to resolve the airport tax issue.
Najib had said that MAHB did not take any drastic action to claim the arrears owed by AirAsia because it would only adversely affect the operation of the low-cost carrier terminal.
He added that it would also give a negative impact to MAHB as the operator and manager of airports.
AirAsia has also been pushing for reduction in airport tax at the low cost carrier terminal due to the limited facilities.
By Adib Zalkapli
The Malaysian Insider
SINGAPORE - AirAsia will be named Brand of the Year at Media’s Agency of the Year Awards, to be held in Singapore on 9 December.
The Malaysian low-cost carrier is to be given the award for its achievement in building the AirAsia brand and expanding its international profile in a year when the economic downturn crippled demand for air travel.
AirAsia launched its first ever brand campaign in Asia in October to position itself as the world’s best low-cost airline and to place greater emphasis on its brand. The campaign aimed to shift consumers’ mindset of low-cost carriers by showcasing the carrier’s innovation, high-quality service and unique experience.
The airline this year also proved it had a solid grasp of the online space. Its latest push in November set a new international sales record, with almost 900,000 seats being booked in 48 hours after the launch of its ‘One million free seats’ campaign. The campaign website saw 300 million hits in the first 11 hours.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes told Media that not only had his company managed to overcome the dual challenge of economic uncertainty and the swine flu threat, it had also turned in another profitable year.
“While others are cutting back, this is the perfect time for us to project ourselves more aggressively and to come up with creative marketing campaigns,” said Fernandes. “A recession is a good time to grow the brand.”
Fernandes will collect the Brand of the Year Award at the Agency of the Year Awards dinner held in Singapore on 9 December.
28 November 2009
PETALING JAYA: AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes has been named the Airline CEO of the Year 2009 by Jane’s Transport Finance magazine in London.
The Britain-based publication, a provider of market intelligence and integrated solutions to the transport, public safety, defense, security and law enforcement sectors in more than 180 countries, gives awards annually to outstanding achievers in the airline, airport, rail, road and shipping sectors.
“The award recognises Fernandes’s vision and AirAsia’s success in the toughest airline market in decades,” the publication said on Friday.
In a statement Saturday, Fernandes attributed his win to his workforce of 6,500 and the airline’s culture of innovation.
“We have grown AirAsia together, with everybody pitching in with ideas, actively finding new ways to increase efficiency, improving services by effectively combining technology and the personal touch while aggressively and smartly marketing our brand,” he added.
AirAsia currently has 82 aircrafts that fly 120 routes to more than 60 destinations across Asia.
The airline has flown more than 75 million guests in less than eight years.
By Nurbaiti Hamdan
28 November 2009
Thai Airways International (THAI)'s chief executive says Thai-owned carriers should form a united front against foreign rivals, especially the fledging budget carrier AirAsia, whose rapid expansion is seen as a "threat".
"Instead of fighting among ourselves, it would be better for us, Thai airlines, to stick together, co-operate and fight AirAsia, which is the biggest threat," said Piyasvasti Amranand.
"They [AirAsia] are expanding rapidly, taking a lot of passengers away. Their Thai market share has been increasing rapidly."
In his sixth week as president of the flag carrier, the former energy minister said he was advocating "much closer co-operation" among Thai airlines such as privately owned Bangkok Airways.
The co-operation could take several forms, including a code-share agreement, feeding passengers between airlines, consolidating networks and avoiding "unnecessary" competition, he said.
But Dr Piyasvasti's view, that AirAsia is a common threat to Thai airlines, surprised Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia, the sister carrier of Southeast Asia's largest low-cost carrier group based in Malaysia.
"Why are they seeing us in that light? They should see us complementing them, by bringing passengers from Asean into Thailand and feeding them to Thai airlines and THAI through its Bangkok hub," he told the Bangkok Post.
Mr Tassapon added that AirAsia and THAI served different markets, with the former targeting budget-conscious travellers and the latter those seeking full services. "It is fair to say that THAI should be competing with legacy carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates, not us," he said.
Mr Tassapon asked why entities with foreign ownership, like Thai AirAsia - which is 49% owned by Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd - face discrimination.
"Do we believe in free trade and fair competition in this country?"
AirAsia's extraordinary growth has raised considerable concern among airlines, at least in Southeast Asia.
Marketed under the slogan "Now Everyone can Fly", AirAsia has now flown more than 75 million passengers and is linking cities across Asia-Pacific.
In just seven years, the airline has grown from a fleet of two aircraft with one destination and a staff of 250 to a fleet of more than 80 aircraft with 113 routes to almost 60 destinations across Asia-Pacific and a staff of 6,500.
The airline's low-cost long-haul affiliate, known as AirAsia X, also flies from its Kuala Lumpur hub to Australia, northern China, Taiwan, the UK and, most recently, the United Arab Emirates.
THAI, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, has a fleet of 88 aircraft, which transports nearly 20 million passengers a year to 74 destinations, and employs 26,000 workers.
Industry sources said Dr Piyasvasti brought the issue of co-operation among Thai airlines to the public following a recent meeting with Bangkok Airways president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, in which co-operation between the two carriers was discussed, without concrete agreement on the matter being reached.
All-in promo fares from as low as (RM99*)
"Best Airline of the Year 2009", AirAsia today launches direct flights daily to Taipei from Kota Kinabalu, further expanding its international connectivity from East Malaysia.
This new Kota Kinabalu - Taipei route, operated by AirAsia will be open-for-sale on 25th November 2009, with direct flights daily commencing on 15th January 2010. To celebrate the introduction of the new routes, AirAsia will be offering all-in-fare for Kota Kinabalu - Taipei from RM99* (TWD699), booking starts from 25th to 29th November 2009 for the travel period from 15th January to 30th October 2010. Promotional seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis and made exclusively online via www.airasia.com and mobile.airasia.com.
AirAsia recently launched its first route connecting Taipei from Kuala Lumpur with only 5 flights a week. The Kuala Lumpur - Taipei route received an overwhelming response with more than 20,000 seats sold in the first 12 hours since its sales announcement on 23rd April 2009. In meeting the extra demand, AirAsia announced daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei in July 2009. Shortly within 6 months, the airline further expanded its network connectivity to Taipei by opening two more direct flights from Bangkok - Taipei in August 2009 and the latest addition today from Kota Kinabalu - Taipei.
The rapid expansion of its connectivity indicates the strong and pent up demand for the new routes and a positive indication that regional markets in this part of the world are starving for low fares. Although shadowed by economic uncertainties, AirAsia is confident that with aggressive marketing and low fares will be able to entice not only holiday makers, but the Taiwanese public and Malaysians who reside, work and study in Taiwan to be able to fly home to connect with their families frequently.
AirAsia held a media briefing for the Taiwanese media today to announce the Taipei-Kota Kinabalu route, with the presence of Director of Tourism Malaysia office in Taipei, Mr Muhamad Nasir Pahmi.
Ms Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial AirAsia group said, "We launched direct flights to Taipei from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok this year and the response has been amazing. The traveling trend to places such as Taipei is increasing and with growing potential household income in East Malaysia, we believe there will also be strong potential demand from East Malaysian travelers to fly directly to the city. The timing of our inaugural flight in January is great as we can ride on the peak Chinese New Year season both ends."
"With the presence of growing Chinese ethnic population in Kota Kinabalu who are willing to spend more on leisure and a growing interest in East Malaysia to explore Orient cities, we feel that this is a strategic move to create interest and stimulate tourism demand in Taipei. Kota Kinabalu famed for its natural wonders and its scenic beauty is equally captivating to Taiwanese. We have studied the growing travel interests from both ends and it's a perfect fit with AirAsia as the integral connecting bridge," she said.
Mr Muhamad Nasir Pahmi, Director of Tourism Malaysia office in Taipei said, "We are working very closely with AirAsia and hope to raise more awareness and interest into the hidden gems of East Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu has so much potential that can captivate and interest our friends from Taiwan. This new route, which is due to begin in January 2010, will help to enhance that interest into a catalyst of culture. There's simply so much to do, see and experience in Kota Kinabalu and East Malaysia. We invite and usher the opening of a new doorway into this exclusive realm of wonders."
Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) has the most developed tourism infrastructure for gentle beach life or more active watersports, which made this beautiful coast one of the most coveted tourist destinations of the world. Not to mention the Mount Kinabalu is one of the stunning Tourist Attractions in Sabah alluring tourists with its magnificence and grandeur. Situated in Sabah's Kinabalu Park the Mount Kinabalu is the third tallest mountain of Southeast Asia. The Mount Kinabalu stands tall at 4095 meters above sea level. Some other primary attractions of Sabah are its outstanding national parks, which include Kinabalu National Park, the Crocker Range Park, and the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. Sabah is also the gateway to fascinating cultures, beautiful scenery and magical islands. From the world-famous Sipadan Island to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, there's so much to see and discover in this natural paradise.
The new route will be serviced by the Airbus A320 aircraft with a 180 passenger capacity. To date, AirAsia and AirAsia X now fly direct to Taipei from Kuala Lumpur (1 flight daily), Bangkok (1 flight daily) and Kota Kinabalu (1 flight daily beginning 15th January 2010). With excellent air connectivity between Taipei and Kota Kinabalu, mutual economic benefits can be expected as AirAsia's low fares and innovative services will definitely stimulate more travel both inbound and outbound from these two destinations. Taiwanese visitors to Malaysia must apply for a social visit visa that costs NT$ 240 that is valid for 2 months.
To add value, AirAsia, under GoHoliday at goholiday.airasia.com, has also lined up some great online hotel deals to stretch the dollar where they may choose their holiday lodgings from over 50,000 hotels. We encourage our guests to purchase food, baggage, hot seats online to enjoy more discounts and savings through airasia.com.
Stay tuned! Follow AirAsia on Twitter, Facebook, and AirAsia's Blog where we will provide real time updates on our latest promotion. Photos will be available on www.flickr.com/airasia.
*All fares quoted are applicable for one-way travel only
27 November 2009
WE wish to respond to the letter published in The Star on Nov 25 (“AirAsia, think before you reschedule”).
AirAsia would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to the writer due to the rescheduling of our flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 14, 2010.
Unfortunately, rescheduling of flights is a common procedure among all airlines, not only AirAsia. What we try to do in such circumstances is to ensure our guests are informed of such changes well in advance of their travel date.
In the case of flight AK5353 from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, all guests were informed of the change three months before the date of departure.
We clearly state in our terms and conditions (Article 9.2) that we may reschedule flights where we reasonably consider it to be justified by circumstances beyond our control, or for reasons of safety, or commercial reasons.
Nevertheless, we would like to assure our guests that at AirAsia, we uphold high schedule integrity and will only retime flights when it is absolutely necessary. Given the high utilisation of our aircraft, re-timing our flights actually creates a “domino” effect, affecting our whole schedule.
Thus, when we are forced to implement such measures for reasons beyond our control, we only do so after careful consideration of both the interests of our guests, especially those connecting to other flights, and the schedule of the airline.
NAZATUL EKMA MOKHTAR (NAZ),
Communications, AirAsia Bhd, Sepang
26 November 2009
JAKARTA-- Air Asia Indonesia, a prominent low cost air transporter, on Thursday denied accusation that it compromises cheap fare it charges with passenger safety.
"We want to erase a stigma that as a low cost carrier, we compromise our passenger safety with our cheap tariff," said Moeharjanto Sasono, the company's Safett Director told a dialog titled "Communication Strategy in Indonesian Transportation Safety."
He said that his company regularly checks its aircraft's condition, replacing improper spare parts and conduct training for pilots for every six months and flight attendants for every year.
"It's true that the efforts are very expensive but we have to do that. We don't want to sacrifice safety just for profit," said Moeharjanto.
He said that the company maximizes efficiency to press its tariff.
"We only sell seats, a thing that passengers need most. We sell ticket via Internet so we don't have to pay to travel agents. We also maximize time after a plane landed. We only need 25 minutes to check and replace things. That's why we can sell ticket cheaper," he said.
Widijastoro, the company's Marketing Director, said that the company always tries to increase its profile as the safe low cost carrier.
"We are in coordination with the Manchester United, a leading football club, in which we painted some players in our plane's body," he said.
According to Widi, maybe people saw it as merely the company's action as the club's sponsor.
But, actually it's a kind of hidden publication as the club surely does not want to damage its reputation by letting its players painted in a carrier's plane body with bad image. I want people know that the club has audited our track record. That's one of our efforts to erase the stigma," said Widi.
AirAsia Deputy CEO, Kamarudin Meranun, stated the group is reportedly considering selling stakes in AirAsia to UAE investors, including the Abu Dhabi Government. AirAsia X is also reportedly considering listing itself on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange or the Dubai Financial Market, after launching services to Abu Dhabi. The carrier’s shares remained unchanged yesterday.
Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Yahoo! Finance
It hopes to achieve target by leveraging on AirAsia and Tune group
KUALA LUMPUR: Mobile service operator Tune Talk Sdn Bhd is targeting to achieve 400,000 subscribers by year-end by leveraging its links with low-cost carrier AirAsia and the Tune group.
The company has already secured over 200,000 subscribers since its launch on Aug 19.
Chief executive officer Jason Lo said he was confident that Tune Talk would breach the 300,000 subscriber-mark by year-end based on the “rate it was going”.
“We’re looking at 300,000 to 400,000 subscribers by year-end,” he said after presenting prizes to its 100,000th and 200,000th subscriber yesterday, adding that Tune Talk was on track to signing up one million customers within a year of operations.
Lo said Tune Talk was currently registering an average of 4,000 new subscribers per day with an average revenue per user of RM45 per month. He said the company was targeting 6,000 subscribers per day by year-end.
The Tune group is the brainchild of AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, who is also chairman of Tune Talk.
Lo said Tune Talk started offering its starter packs on board AirAsia flights last week.
“We are on board AirAsia flights and hope to maintain that partnership with them. We feel that we can become a relevant player in Asean, especially if we can leverage off AirAsia’s extensive network,” he said.
“Tune Hotels will also be launching 50 hotels by 2012. Right now, Tune Hotels (which has hotels in Malaysia and Bali, Indonesia) is doing 60,000 to 70,000 guests per month.
With 50 hotels, that’s three million guests and we have to service that as well,” Lo added.
He also said Tune Talk was in preliminary talks with two of Singapore’s three mobile operators to expand its services to the island republic and potentially offer zero or reduced roaming to its subscribers.
Tune Talk has been offering AirAsia E-Gift vouchers daily and RM100,000 personal accident coverage to its subscribers since its launch.
Operating as a mobile virtual network operator on Celcom (M) Bhd’s 2.5G network, Tune Talk charges a flat rate of 22 sen per minute for calls to any operator in Malaysia while an SMS costs 5 sen each.
It claims that its IDD rates are 10% to 30% cheaper than other operators.
24 November 2009
AirAsia X today launched five times weekly direct flights between Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
To celebrate, the low cost long-haul airline is offering what it calls “Free Seats” on the route to customers who book their flights and hotels via GoHoliday - AirAsia’s holiday division - for selected hotels in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
The “Go Holiday Free Flight” promotion is available for booking between 24 and 27 November 2009, for travel between 1 December 2009 and 31 January 2010. Terms and conditions apply.
H.E. Dato’ Yahaya Abdul Jabar, Ambassador of Malaysia to the UAE said, “Today’s launch signifies an important milestone in the field of aviation and tourism to Malaysia as well as the UAE. The launch of 5 times weekly flights to Abu Dhabi from Kuala Lumpur will be mutually beneficial to both Malaysia and Abu Dhabi tourism, as we can expect a considerable increase in both inbound and outbound travel to both destinations, which bodes well for the economy for both Malaysia and the Middle East. Malaysia looks forward to increase business, commercial, and investment ties with the new connection between the two countries. We see an increase in Malaysian companies’ business interest investing in Abu Dhabi. We anticipate their investments in areas of property development, tourism, agro-based industries, biotechnology, food processing and oil and gas.”
Abu Dhabi is AirAsia X’s first destination in the Middle East. Flights depart Kuala Lumpur (days 1,4,5,6 and 7) at 22:00 to arrive in Abu Dhabi at 01:30. The return leg from Abu Dhabi departs (days 1,2,5,6 and 7) at 02:55 to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 13:55.
Mr. Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority said, “Today, AirAsia X is really bringing an X factor to Abu Dhabi – X for Exceptional air links that AirAsia is now providing this destination to better penetrate the Xtremely important Asian market. There is much here to engage the Asian traveller – and indeed the authority is so convinced of the market that it is now running specialist training courses for our industry stakeholders on how to specifically serve this segment of the market which has its own individual needs.”
AirAsia’s shares gained 0.8% yesterday, despite being cut from ‘trading buy’ to ‘sell’ by OSK, “on the back of lower average fares and higher fuel costs”.
OSK also downgraded AirAsia’s fair value to MYR1.13, “based on 10x FY10 EPS”, adding that it believes “the price undercutting (for air fares) and escalating crude oil price would persist in the short to medium term”.
Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 23-Nov-09
Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Yahoo! Finance