Saturday, February 20, 2010

Airasia stops two flying routes

20 February 2010

Kuala Lumpur - AirAsia will close down its Kuala Lumpur - Palembang flight as of Sunday (Feb 21), and its Kuala Lumpur - Manado flight as of Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 for purely commercial reasons, Desiree Bandal, spokesman for AirAsia in Kuala Lumpur said on Saturday.

AirAsia stopped its flight to Manado for commercial or low occupancy reasons since serving the Kuala Lumpur - Manado route starting from September 12, 2008, using Airbus 320-319 three times a week.

The KL-Manado flight is AirAsia`s second in Sulawesi after Makassar.

The KL-Palembang route was served since Nov 22, 2006 four times a week using A320 with a capacity for 180 passengers.

The opening of the KL-Palembang route was at that time the 4th for Sumatra after Medan, Padang, and Pekanbaru.(*)


WestJet profitable despite 4Q2009 slump; Equal mix of profitable/non-profitable routes for AirAsia X

18 February 2010

WestJet (shares up 1.2%) reported its 19th consecutive quarter of profitability in the three months ended Dec-2009, but unveiled a 52% slump in net profit (to USD19.3 million) and a 7.4% reduction in revenues (to USD545 million).

The weaker result nevertheless prompted CEO, Sean Durfy, to state that the Canadian LCC was “once again one of the top performers in the North American airline industry”. Mr Durfy added that he was “ecstatic and extremely pleased" with the results, noting the LCC's ability to remain profitable during 2009 shows its “business model works even in the darkest times”.

The carrier reported a 7.4% RASM decline in the period (to USD 12.35 cents), less than the expected decline of 11-13%, due to a better-than-anticipated performance in Dec-2009. The carrier’s yields were down 11.0% (to USD 15.74 cents) in the quarter.

Looking forward, Mr Durfy commented that the carrier is expecting continued pressure on fares in 1Q2010 (with RASM tracking for a year-on-year decline of less than 5%), but added that it expected continued profitability in 2010.

AirAsia X has an equal mix of profitable and non-profitable routes: CEO

AirAsia X CEO, Azran Osman-Rani, stated the carrier now has an equal mix of profitable and non-profitable routes, with the carrier’s Taipei service breaking even after six months of operations. Mr Osman-Rani expects the London service will need between 12 to 18 months until it breaks even. Mr Osman-Rani added that plans to launch services to Incheon and Sydney were “critical for our own business, for us to sustain our business model”. Shares in AirAsia X parent, AirAsia, slipped 1.4% yesterday.

Alexander Lebedev denies interest in NIKI shareholding

Meanwhile, Russian billionaire, Alexander Lebedev, denied reports by Die Pressie that he was considering acquiring a stake in NIKI. NIKI is currently in “advanced talks” with existing shareholder, Air Berlin, regarding the German LCC increasing its stake in NIKI.

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 17-Feb-2010

Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Yahoo! Finance

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation

AirAsia launches Kota Kinabalu to Taipei flights

17 February 2010

Asia’s low-cost carrier, AirAsia, has launched direct flights between Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia and Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, from as little as £280 return.

This new daily service will make it even easier for British travellers to twin a holiday in Taiwan with one in Malaysia.

AirAsia’s new route will be operated by the airline’s new 180-passenger Airbus A320 aircraft. Flights departing from Kota Kinabalu will depart daily at 06.00 and will arrive in Taipei at 09.20; while flights out of Taipei will leave at 09.50 and are scheduled to land at Kota Kinabalu at 13.10.

These new flights follow hot on the heels of the launch of AirAsia’s first route connecting Taipei and Kuala Lumpur, which launched in July 2009. To date, AirAsia and AirAsiaX now fly direct to Taipei every day from Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu.

For more information and flight bookings, visit

AirAsia Offers 20 Per Cent Discount

17 February 2010

KUALA LUMPUR-- AirAsia Bhd will be offering a 20 per cent price slash for all seats to all destinations during a four-day promotion from Feb 18-21.

In a statement here Wednesday, AirAsia said the promotion will be available exclusively online via its website at during the promotion period for a travel period from March 23 -May 31 this year.

The discounts for its domestic and international destinations will be available for AirAsia's nine regional hubs namely Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya and Bandung stretching across 20 countries to over 130 routes.

The promotion excludes domestic destinations within Thailand and the new routes to India (Banglore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai from Kuala Lumpur and to Chennai from Penang) for which sales were opened recently, where promotional fares are still available online until February 21.

Its regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan said guests will be able to book flights to favourite destinations such as London, Australia, China as well as regional favourites like Siem Reap, Bali, Phuket, Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City during the four-day promotion.

Those planning on domestic travel in Malaysia will also benefit from the promotion as domestic destinations are included, she said.


Tune Talk has 600,000 subscribers

17 February 2010

Talk has become the fastest growing telephone company in Malaysia by breaching the 500,000 subscriber mark just five months after its launch in Aug 15 last year.

The country’s newest mobile service provider aims to surpass its one million subscriber target within the first year of operation. The number of subscribers hit 600,000 on Feb 9.

"We will achieve this target by boosting our distribution channels supported by innovative marketing and communications strategies, including our web-based approach – we are confident of such a simple yet exciting product," Tune Talk CEO Jason Lo said as he presented Tune Talk’s 500,000th subscriber Zolkefley Mohd Mokhtar from Negri Sembilan with his reward.

Zolkefley got himself a three-day two-night all-expense paid trip to Bali, complete with accommodation at a Tune Hotel, free surfing lessons, a surfboard and a camera.

Tune Talk has introduced its new rebate plan which enables subscribers to enjoy 10% worth of instant free talktime when they top up RM30, RM50 or RM100.

"We aim to make it cheaper and easier to talk and it appears we are achieving that. We work hard to provide better service because we do listen to our customers and subscribers tell us they feel the savings on mobile bills," Lo said.

Tune Talk is currently running a promotion which gives a weekly winner RM10, 000 worth of AirAsia E-Gift vouchers that can be redeemed for any AirAsia or AirAsiaX flight.


No Malaysian move for new Lotus team yet

13 February 2010

Lotus has put on hold plans to relocate in the near future to Malaysia.

When the new team's official entry was confirmed last September, the FIA said Lotus' plan was to be based at the Sepang circuit.

Some days later, the Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the cars would be designed, made and tested at the venue near Kuala Lumpur.

"It will all be made in Malaysia, and made by Malaysians," he said, adding that even the pit crew will be made up of Malaysians despite being led by the British F1 technical expert Mike Gascoyne.

However, Lotus' 2010 car, launched in London on Friday, has been designed at Hingham, Norfolk (UK).

"Right now, stability is important and there are no plans to move to Malaysia yet," team boss Tony Fernandes, also head of the Malaysian airline AirAsia, said.

"In time, obviously, it would be great to be in Malaysia because there's a Formula One track, but we have no immediate plans to move," he added.

He said the concept of relocating to Sepang will be reconsidered next year.

Fernandes cools Norwich talk

12 February 2010

Tony Fernandes has played down speculation he could buy Norwich City, saying his focus is currently on Lotus Racing.

The multi-millionaire businessman recently made an attempt to take over West Ham United, only to see David Gold and David Sullivan secure a deal for the Premier League club.

David Gold has subsequently been linked with a takeover of Norwich, and the Canaries' chief executive David McNally had suggested talks could take place in the future.

The founder of AirAsia is a regular visitor to the Lotus base at Hingham in Norfolk, however, for the time being, Formula One, rather than football is central to Fernandes' focus.

Never say no

"I am quite happy at the moment, and have got my hands full with Lotus," said Fernandes.

"I think the Lotus guys are very happy West Ham did not happen, so now they have 100 per cent of my attention and money!"

Fernandes added: "Everyone is speculating I am going to buy Norwich City.

"I have never been to Carrow Road, but they have the right colours.

"Never say no, but right now my focus is very much on Lotus Racing."

Fernandes believes if run properly, then sports clubs can be very profitable despite the financial troubles being experienced by several teams in the English game.

He said: "If you look at West Ham, it was a classic case of how not to do things.

"I believe in good old fashioned business principles of having a strong balance sheet, with a good cash flow.

"There are tremendous opportunities in sport."

Will Lotus F1 team get more sponsors?

12 February 2010

ONE of the most valuable advertising space in Formula One racing is the side of the racing car that carries a sponsor’s name.

The visibility is there no matter how fast the speed machine roars away from the grid and it guarantees the presence of millions of eyeballs globally having a good sight of the brand.

Sports sponsorship is big business and it is one of the best ways to build a brand. In F1, the stakes are high and so is the exposure.

Petronas is the title sponsor for the Mercedes Grand Prix Petronas team for the coming season.

Petronas has been in the F1 business for a long time and opted for Mercedes over Lotus F1 Racing for several reasons.

For one, Mercedes (known as Brawn GP in the previous season) is the reigning constructors’ champion and has seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher to drive its machine for the new season. This means Schumacher will be “wheeling” in the competition this year.

It is in an enviable position to be in when the season begins on March 12 in Bahrain.

Today, at about midnight, racing enthusiasts will see the return of the yellow and green Lotus machine – brought to life again by 1Malaysia Racing Team – which will compete with Mercedes GP Petronas and 11 other teams. Pictures of the car, which was officially unveiled in London before it enters the third official test session in Jerez Circuit in Spain next week, are available online.

It’s as sleek as any other F1 machines but surprisingly, the car still looks bare of sponsors.

With Petronas out, 1Malaysia Racing Team (1MRT) is left with only the sponsorship of an international oil company and some Asian companies. There are some sponsors and Bridgestone is a sponsor that is listed on its website.

Being without a major sponsor means the onus is on the owners to fork out the money in this “big bucks” business.

The biggest cost item is engine development and while Lotus F1 team principal Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes did not want to reveal how much needed, RM300mil was a figure bandied around earlier.

Lotus F1 has no intention to miss a beat as it wants to be in all the 13 races and of course, podium wins and constructor’s points will help offset some transportation costs.

For now, the stickers of Tune Group appear on the sides of the car and one wonders if the company is the title sponsor. Fernandes has declined comment on this.

Tune Group is Fernandes and his partner Datuk Kamarudin Meranun’s vehicle, which in turn controls Tune Talk, Tune Money, Tune Hotels. It also has a stake in AirAsia.

Naza Group is a shareholder of the 1Malaysia Racing Team, and so is Proton, which owns the Lotus group and Lotus brand.

From branding perspective, Tune Group is less known globally, compared with names like AirAsia or even Tony Fernandes himself. Unfortunately, AirAsia is locked in an agreement with Williams for the whole of this season.

“No doubt the AirAsia and Tony Fernandes names are well known but it is about positioning the Tune Group and this is a great avenue to do it,” said a source.

The reality is that it is a challenge to get sponsors when you are new in the game but if Lotus F1 can prove itself in the first few races then it has better chances of attracting more sponsorships.

The past 100 days has been trying times for Fernandes and the team but will there be surprises?

Will this Malaysian dream become a truly Asian dream with Asian sponsors backing the Lotus F1 team?

Let’s wait for the race to begin.

By B.K.Sidhu

The Star

Air Asia’s aim – all-Malaysian MotoGP team

12 February 2010

LONDON: A Malaysian team in the World MotoGP is the ultimate aim of Air Asia as they increase their foray into the sport this year.

Their chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, said here yesterday that the entry into MotoGP was not on an ad-hoc basis but with two specific targets for 2010.

“The first is to see a Malaysian champion in the mould of Valentino Rossi. The second is to have a team in the premier class in the long run,” he said.

Air Asia made their foray into MotoGP when they sponsored a Malaysian team of two wildcard riders for the 125cc race in the Malaysian GP last year. And the performance of Elly Idlianizar Illias and Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin to finish among the top 20 convinced Tony of Malaysian riders’ potential to race on the big stage.

He then decided to have Air Asia sponsor Zulfahmi for a full season in the 125cc world championships this year.

The chance to have a bigger role in MotoGP came when Dorna, the rights holders of the championships offered Air Asia to become the title sponsors of the British GP at Silverstone.

At the simple ceremony in Silverstone on Wednesday, Fernandes signed a sponsorship agreement for a three-year deal, beginning with this season’s event from June 18-20. Dorna were represented at the ceremony by their CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta.

“It is big honour for a Malaysian company to be signed on as title sponsors of this event. It is the growing interest in the Air Asia brand that has made this possible,” said Tony.

“We had a small role last year in sponsoring two of our riders in the Malaysian GP. That created quite an interest for us in the MotoGP scene and I came away impressed.

“So I had no hesitation in giving Zulfahmi a chance to shine on the full circuit and he has the potential to succeed

“Then Dorna made the offer for the British GP and we agreed to it. Britain is a top destination for our low cost carrier.

“We expect the market to grow and for more people from the Asean region to visit here. It is a win-win situation for us.

“And I can say that we may be heading for a long relationship in the sports.”

Tony added that the chance to see a Malaysian champions emerge was the main reason for their foray into MotoGP.

“It is going to be a long process and if we do it right, I am convinced that there is a chance for such a champion.

“It may be Zulfahmi but we certainly would like to see more youngsters coming through the ranks and follow in the footsteps of this 19-year-old,” he said.

“A lot of hard work has to be put in and the financially aspect is just part of it. You need a team in place and slowly but surely we can do this. I believe in having a dream and making it happen. We have done it with Air Asia and why not in motor racing sports.”

By S.RamaGuru

The Star

AirAsia Title Sponsor For British MotoGP

11 February 2010

LONDON -- Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia on Wednesday became the title sponsor for the British Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) in a three-year deal starting this year.

Its chief executive officer (CEO), Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, said the British MotoGP would be held at the prestigious Silverstone circuit in June.

He, however, did not want to disclose the allocation for the sponsorship.

"I decided to sponsor the Silverstone circuit because it was a special comeback for the circuit since 1986 (last race held at the circuit), thus it was available for us to approach.

"For AirAsia, this sponsorship will bring a lot of attention from all over the world and we must admit that Malaysia is closea with England compared with other European countries," he told reporters here.

Fernandes earlier signed the agreements between AirAsia and Dorna Sports S.L. at the British Racing Drivers Club at the Silverstone circuit.

Dorna Sports S.L. CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta signed on behalf of the company which was established in 1988 as an international sports management and marketing company.

Dorna Sports S.L. has been the exclusive holder of all commercial and TV rights of the MotoGP since 1992.

The 2010 MotoGP World Championship calendars will kick off in April as the action at the Silverstone circuit is scheduled for June 18-20.

"It's a huge thing for me and it's great that we have a brand, AirAsia, from Malaysia that Dorna S.L. wants to cooperate with," he said.

Fernandes said it was a dream comes true and a big step for him because at the Sepang circuit last year two Malaysia riders representing AirAsia racing team made their debut by wildcards.

"We had our first taste when we sponsored the entries of Elly Idzlianizar Ilias and Mohd Zulfahimi Khairuddin. It was a magnificent experience.

"The boys did Malaysia proud and we were thrilled to have helped make their dream a reality. We are proud and excited to be back in the MotoGP this year, with a bigger role by being the title sponsor," he said.

Fernandes said it had always been his dreams to establish a MotoGP team from Malaysia and although it was a long journey, it is must start from now.

"Maybe five or 10 years from now we can dream to have our own Valentino Rossi (the eight-time world champion)," he added.

By Azlan Muhammad Zain


AirAsia X to add flights to Hangzhou

11 February 2010

LONG haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X will increase its direct daily flights to Hangzhou, China beginning March 28 2009 to meet growing demand.

The carrier has filled up 80 per cent of its planes for the Hangzhou- Kuala Lumpur routes and this has encouraged it to add more flights.

AirAsia X has nine destinations in China including Chengdu, Tianjin (Beijing), Hangzhou (Shanghai), Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Haikou, Guilin, Hong Kong and Macau.

Attractive all-in-fares are offered from as low as RM199 one-way and is exclusively available online via AirAsia’s website.

Booking period is between February 9 and 21 2010, for travel period between March 28 and October 30 2010.

Fairuz gets maiden drive ahead of Lotus official launch

11 February 2010

PETALING JAYA: The first Lotus F1 car went on track for the first time in 16 years in a private shakedown at the Silverstone circuit late on Tuesday ahead of its official launch in London tomorrow.

It was the Malaysian reserve driver of the team, Fairuz Fauzy, who had the honour of taking the team’s challenger for the 2010 season around the circuit, which coincidentally is not far from his residence.

The car was decked in the green and yellow liveries in tribute to the proud heritage of Lotus in the early years of F1 with the Proton logo in prominent display.

But chief executive officer Riad Asmat did not give further hints on whether the colours will remain unchanged for the season, except to add that all went well according to plan.

The Lotus outfit, backed by AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, will officially unveil their car to the world at the Royal Horticultural Hall tomorrow.

“Fairuz took the car out for a couple of laps. The shakedown was to test more effectively that everything in the car works properly before we go for actual testing later,” said Riad, who has arrived in London ahead of the launch.

“Everything went well for us and it was certainly a proud moment for everyone here to see the car up and running as we’ve built it up from scratch in less than six months.

“We have also invited all the employees of the Lotus factory here to be with us for the launch on Friday afternoon.”

Team principal Fernandes said in his Twitter post that he was overwhelmed by the occasion and shed quite a few tears.

Lotus, who were a force in F1 in the 50s and 60s, last raced in Australia in 1994.

However, they were revived after the 1Malaysia F1 company set up by the major stakeholders in AirAsia were granted a licence by FIA on Sept 15 last year to race in the 2010 season.

Fairuz together with the team’s main drivers, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, will join the majority of the F1 field at the third official four-day test session in Jerez, Spain, next week.

Lotus are one of the four new teams for the 2010 season. The others are Virgin Racing, Campos Meta and USF1 Racing.

By Lim Teik Huat

The Star

Friday, February 19, 2010

AirAsia to set up new low-cost airline with Vietjet Air

11 February 2010

PETALING JAYA: After establishing bases in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, AirAsia has set its sights on Vietnam where it will establish a new low-cost airline with new partner, Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Co (Vietjet Air).

AirAsia yesterday said in a statement it had bought from Madam Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao a 30% equity stake in Vietjet Air for 180 billion dong that would allow it to set up a Vietnam-based joint venture low-cost airline to be known as Vietjet AirAsia.

It said the stake sale was approved by Vietnam’s Transportation Ministry on Tuesday and the joint venture airline did not require fresh capital injection.

It is highly likely that AirAsia will second some of its aircraft for the operations in Vietnam and drive the venture given its expertise in running low-cost airlines.

Vietjet AirAsia will operate both domestic and international flights and is currently finalising details regarding routes, frequencies and launch of flight.

It hopes to launch commercial operations between April and June this year.

According to its website, Vietjet Air was the first private airline to receive a business licence in December 2007 but has yet to offer commercial flights.

However, its rival Indochina Airlines – the second private airline to be licensed in the country – started offering flights in November 2008.

But this airline owes almost 30 billion dong (US$1.6mil) for jet fuel and services, and has been unable to operate its sole plane since November, according to reports originating from Vietnam.

Jetstar Pacific Airlines Joint-Stock Aviation Co, 27%-owned by Sydney-based Qantas Airways Ltd, is now the only provider of domestic flights in the country apart from state-owned carrier Vietnam Airlines Corp.

Vietnam Airlines is the country’s only airline operating international flights. It carried more than 9.3 million passengers in 2009.

A total of 17.5 million passengers went through the country’s airports last year.

Vietjet Air has a share capital of 600 billion dong (RM112mil) and its founding shareholders are Sovico Holdings, HCMC Housing Joint Stock Commercial Bank and some individuals from Vietnam’s civil aviation industry.

Following the completion of the share transfer, the shareholding structure in the joint venture airline will be AirAsia via AA International Ltd with 30%, Sovico Holdings with 51% and Nguyen Thanh Hung with 19%.

The move by AirAsia to enter Vietnam is to strengthen its base in the Asean region which has a population of nearly 600 million.

“The birth of VieJet AirAsia contributes to the diversification of the aviation market in Vietnam, providing more options by way of low fares to meet the air travel needs of the people in Vietnam and in the region,” the statement said.

By B.K. Sidhu

The Star