Sunday, March 21, 2010

AirAsia Miri-S’pore flight to be restored next week

18 March 2010

KUCHING: AirAsia has agreed to reinstate the Miri-Singapore flight by next week, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said yesterday.Dr Chan, who is also Tourism and Heritage Minister, disclosed this after a discussion with AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandez over the route, which was suspended earlier this month.

“People are used to the route. Employees of oil companies are used to travelling on that flight,” he said during a press conference at Kuching International Airport VIP lounge upon his return from Kuala Lumpur.

“I promised Fernandez that we will do our part in promoting Sarawak to Singaporeans,” he said.

Dr Chan added that he would be embarking on a roadshow to promote Sarawak in Singapore either end of this month or early April.

“On my part, I want to sell Sarawak to Singaporeans and get more people to come.

“People should know about the good tourism products available in Sarawak. We must work on a win-win situation. Tour operators can also help by getting as many people as possible to visit,” he added.

The status of other suspended international routes, like the Kuching-Jakarta flight, remains unchanged.

Dr Chan said Fernandez asked him to speak to Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAB) about offering the low-cost carrier a lower rate for airport charges.

“I hope MAB will be able to help us there, until we build up a volume where the low-cost carrier can absorb a higher cost.”

He said Sarawak tourism was behind when compared to Sabah, Penang and Melaka, and appealed for MAB to reconsider its charges.

by Georgette Tan

Borneo Post

Chance for Malaysians to check out Lotus car

18 March 2010

PETALING JAYA: It will be the real deal as far as Lotus Racing are concerned when they make their eagerly awaited stopover at the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix in Sepang next month.

Lotus Racing plan to do a promotional event at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur on March 30 to help hype up the third round of the F1 world championships scheduled for that weekend and Malaysians will get to check out the actual race car.

The team were officially launched in London on Feb 12 but Malaysians back home have not seen the car up close.

Team principal Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said that they were planning to do a promotional event when the cars arrive here at the end of the month after the Australian GP, which will be held in Melbourne from March 26-28.

“Since we do not have a show car, we will put one up on the other teams as you are going to see the real car,” said Tony.

Mean machine: Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen in action at the Bahrain F1 GP in Bahrain on Sunday. — AFP

“It will be the car that will be racing in Sepang. Other teams will bring show cars but ours is going to be the real thing.”

Tony, who is also the chief executive officer of Air Asia, added that the Malaysian GP from April 2-4 was very important to them.

“It’s our homecoming race. We have not had the chance to bring the car home to Malaysia yet as we only have two chassis and no show car,” he said.

“The Malaysian race is the most important in the season for us. We want the whole of Malaysia to see the car and feel part of it.”

The six-month-old team had a wonderful outing in their historic first F1 race in Bahrain last Sunday when both cars managed to get classification in the 49-lap race.

Heikki Kovalainen finished 15th while team-mate Jarno Trulli was classified 17th even though a hydraulic problem forced the Italian to pull over on his final lap.

Kovalainen and Trulli are expected to fly in early for the promotional event together along with Fairuz Fauzy, who is expected to be given the chance to drive on the Friday morning practice in Sepang.

Tony added that he was using Tune Group instead of the Air Asia branding on the car because the latter was already well-established.

“We already have a contract with Williams F1. I don’t think AirAsia will be on a Lotus car anyway. AirAsia has reached a certain level but Tune Group is now up-and-coming,” he said.

“Tune is opening 15 hotels in London. Tune Money and Tune Talk are also growing rapidly.”

Tony said that sponsorship negotiations were an ongoing process. Lotus recently announced a sponsorship deal with CNN International.

By Lim Teik Huat

The Star

AirAsia may fly to Cairns

18 March 2010

BUDGET airline AirAsia is considering flying to Cairns, including direct flights from Bali.

An airline spokesman yesterday said the Malaysian operator was talking with Cairns airport

"AirAsia is in discussion with Cairns airport authorities on the possibility of launching several routes," he said.

"Cairns-Bali is among those on the list. But nothing has been firmed up and the talks are merely in the exploratory stage."

Airport chief executive Stephen Gregg was tight-lipped yesterday.

He said the airport was always open to opportunities with new airlines to add capacity for Cairns.

"But at this stage there is no news on AirAsia coming here," Mr Gregg said.

Advance Cairns chairman Russell Beer said at the launch of Alliance Airlines services earlier this week AirAsia was talked about.

He said he understood the discussions were preliminary and any additional flights, especially from overseas, were welcome.

Mr Beer said as part of the New Deal relief, recovery and reform package for Cairns he was driving any increased airline capacity.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said senior executives from the airline had visited Cairns in the past and there had been talks about possible opportunities.

"I have no knowledge of any route developments at this stage," he said.

AirAsia is based in Malaysia with hubs also in Indonesia and Thailand. It operates from major airport in Kuala Lumpur.

It has a network of 130 routes covering 70 destinations, employs about 7000 staff and carried about 25 million passengers last year.

Its offshoot, AirAsia X, flies to Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast from Kuala Lumpur and also flies to Bali from Perth.

It hopes to start services to Sydney by mid-year. There are plans to fly to Darwin and Adelaide.

It is not clear how its operational alliance with Jetstar will affect its Cairns plans. Jetstar flies to Bali and Singapore via Darwin.

The alliance is tipped to save the airlines about $300 million annually, as a springboard to a wider partnership that includes revenue and code sharing.

By Nick Dalton

The Cairns Post