27 January 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia is expanding its “coverage” of India with flights to five more cities, including the capital, New Delhi, from April.
The budget carrier’s other new routes are to Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai. All flights will take off from the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).
AirAsia will also commence flights to Chennai from Penang beginning April 28. Flights from LCCT to Chennai will commence on May 17 (daily); Bangalore on May 20 (daily); Hyderabad on July 20 (daily); Mumbai on May 6 (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday); and New Delhi on Aug 4 (daily).
The airline already flies to Trichy, Kochi, Trivandrum and Kolkata. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the new routes would further open up the Malaysian business and tourism market to India.
“This tie with India will become increasingly more important, having enjoyed a long relationship with India and subsequent to the visit of our Prime Minister to India last week, it will gear us to further improve our political, trade and economic cooperation with India.
“I hope the increased accessibility into India coupled with low fares will stimulate the interest of SMEs in India and Malaysia to further invest and expand their business beyond their native shores, which will result in the growth of trade between Malaysia and India,” he said at a ceremony to mark the official announcement here.
Also present were AirAsia group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry vice-president Datuk Ramesh Kodammal and Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Azizan Noordin.
Ong said India was Malaysia’s 12th largest global trading partner last year and Malaysia was India’s second-largest trading partner in the Association of South-East Asian Nations.
Besides business and economic ties with India, Ong said tourists from India offered significant potential to Malaysia.
“In the year 2009, the total number of tourists from India to Malaysia numbered 589,838,” he added.
The minister also said response to AirAsia’s destinations in India had been very encouraging, with the airline carrying 237,367 passengers to the four cities it currently flew to.
Fernandes said AirAsia’s additional flights to India was “a timely effort in response to the Prime Minister’s call to strengthen Malaysia-India bilateral relations.”
To mark the opening of sales for the new routes, AirAsia is offering fares as low as RM199 for the booking period from Wednes-day to Sunday.
By Ng Si Hooi