Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Airasia X To Mount Flights To Melbourne & Perth

05 April 2010

SEPANG-- AirAsia X will operate flights to Melbourne and Perth, with three more Airbus A330 aircraft coming in, as securing routes to Seoul and Sydney are a challenge.

Currently, it is using six A330 and two A340 aircraft.

"For some reasons we are not privileged enough to get some routes. So, we will be adding more flights to Perth and Melbourne and keep pushing Mumbai and New Delhi routes in 2010," says chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani.

AirAsia X will service the New Delhi route in August.

"However, that doesn't mean AirAsia X is dropping those routes from its plan, we still want to fly to Seoul, Sydney, Jeddah and to one city in Japan as there is huge demand.

"So, the guys next door are not going to run away from competition as we will keep throwing in more flights in the current routes," he told reporters after unveiling the budget airline's premium "Lie-Flat Bed" seats at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal here on Monday.

As for Mumbai, Azran said AirAsia X has the rights to fly four times a week to the Indian city and was pursuing to secure another three more landing rights as only then the route would be economically viable.

"We hope to secure the rights within this year.

Singapore Airlines operates four flights to Mumbai daily, meaning Malaysia is losing out," he said.

Asked on possible code-sharing arrangements with other budget airlines, Azran said it did not make sense to do code-sharing as with on-line booking, travellers could do it themselves.


Airasia X To Spend RM110 Million To Upgrade 11 Aircraft Seats

05 April 2010

SEPANG -- AirAsia X is spending RM110 million to upgrade both premium and economy seats aboard its 11 aircrafts, its chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said on Monday.

"To refit one aircraft is RM10 million and it will be financed by internally generated funds. We already have eight aircrafts and three more will come in by year end with the new seats fitting," he said.

The flatbeat seats are standard business class specification of 20" width pitch and can be streched out to 77" when in full reclined position, while the economy class seats have been revamped with new ergonomical, reclineable seats at 31" pitch.

The premium seats feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities namely tray table, reading light and privacy screen.

The airline has also moved away from traditional black leather and opted for a mix red and grey to brighten its cabins' ambience.

The new seats re-fit will be done in stages for all long-haul flights to Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, Taipei, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chendgu, London, Mumbai and New Delhi, Azran told reporters after unveiling the new seats.

The refurbishment will allow AirAsia X's A330 to have a seat configuration of 12 flatbed premium seats from 28 currently, and 365 economy seats from 355 currently, while for the A340, the new configuration will be 18 flatbed compared with 30 now and 309 economy seats from 256 currently, he said.

The refurbishment exercise is due for completion in June this year.

To introduce the new seats to customers, AirAsia X has thrown in some exclusive promotions with Citibank and some discounts as well.


AirAsia X cries foul over Sydney, Seoul

03 April 2010

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X (AAX) has not received the Government’s approval to fly to Sydney and Seoul although the long haul budget carrier had expected to fly to the Australian city by June this year.

“We had expected the approvals by the end of March and without a formal word from the Government we are unable to keep to our June time line,’’ AAX chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani told StarBiz yesterday.

To him, this is a “big blow to consumers who continue to have limited choices and from the tourism perspective, it is sheer loss in opportunities to grab tourism market share.’’

Presently, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flies 12 direct flights on the KL-Sydney route.

The other airline with the rights, Jetstar, stopped plying the route in 2008 and has yet to resume flights.

Comparatively, there are 52 and 42 weekly flights from Singapore and Bangkok to Sydney respectively.

As for Seoul, MAS and Korean Air ply the KL-Seoul route with 12 weekly flights, whereas 58 and 31 flights are mounted from Bangkok and Singapore respectively to Seoul.

“The gap between tourist arrivals from Sydney/Seoul to Singapore and Bangkok versus Kuala Lumpur is big because they have three times more direct flights,’’ Azran said.

Judging from the importance the newly launched New Economic Model (NEM) puts on tourism, he said “the decision not to allow AAX to fly to Sydney and Seoul is not just a setback for the airline but also to KL International Airport whose ambition to become a regional hub is constantly being challenged by Singapore and Bangkok.’’

Citing the Prime Minister’s speech at the launch of the NEM that the private sector should drive growth and innovation, Azran reckoned that “here is a clear example of one airline that is not given the rights yet the government is pushing for tourism and investing in Legoland and Iskandar to boost tourism, cargo and trade. There appears to be a lack of consistency in what the PM wants and what is being done.’’

The battle for rights to fly Sydney and Seoul is not a new one.

But on Thursday Azran surprised many by lashing out via his tweets on Twitter, alleging that “the (incumbent) is blocking us because they say that route must be protected.”

He argues that what may have not been fully considered in the policy debate is the importance of trunk routes to create economic activity rather than just having a sheer number of routes to peripheral cities.

“What we really want is a rational and clear policy on route allocation that is based on the interest of the country and not the interest of an individual airline,’’ Azran said.

MAS senior general manager network and revenue management Amin Khan responded to Azran’s allegations via e-mail, saying “it is somewhat intriguing that AAX has been making these statements in Malaysia, and outside the country.

“We believe that both airlines can compete and collaborate, and we believe that is what the Government wants us to do when they had set out the vision of wanting to build two strong national champions.’’

Azran claims that the airline has managed to bring in a lot more tourists despite flying to peripheral routes.

“We have been told a number of nonsensical things like we are flying transit traffic and not bringing in the tourists.

“Why don’t they measure everything, all the data is on the Tourism Malaysia website.

“Just to cite an example, had we not flown to Australia in 2009, would the tourist arrivals from Australia surged by 25% since the incumbent did not add capacity during that period?’’

“The sad part is that our policy makers are not given a full set of facts to make good policy decisions and that is the kind of baseless arguments that have been levelled against us.

“We welcome an opportunity to address the issues instead of being held back and not being able to present our case fully,’’ he said.

Khan has pointed out that “AAX can fly to many routes that are currently not served.

For example, there are no direct services from KL to Manchester, Zurich, Madrid, Athens, Oslo, Vienna, Amman, Cairo, Pusan, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Nice and Oakland.”

“This in itself will give customers better choices.

“We believe that AAX has requested and received approvals for many of these routes but they have not offered these services,’’ he added.

Khan said “we are currently competing on a number of routes, and at the same time, we also continue to fly on routes where we are not necessarily making money to provide customers with choices, and to attract tourists.’’

The Star

Lotus boss lost for words

03 April 2010

SEPANG: Lotus boss Tony Fernandes was left struggling for words on Saturday after seeing Heikki Kovalainen secure 15th place on the grid for the team's "home" Malaysian Grand Prix.

Fernandes said he was delighted to see the Finn go through to Q2 on a day of tropical thunderstorms -- so happy that he was almost unable to speak.

"I'm speechless! What a day. To get 15th place in our home country, in front of our home crowd is amazing. I'm over the moon and just so excited," said the founder of budget airline AirAsia.

"We gave the Toro Rossos a run for their money today and Jarno (Trulli) was just unfortunate to get blocked, otherwise he'd have been in Q2 as well.

"Tomorrow's another day, and we'll see what happens, but it's a good step forward. We'll enjoy it, and we'll live for the day, and we'll see what happens."

Kovalainen was equally pleased.

"I really like these conditions. It's very hard to judge your speed and you really have to take some risks, and all the time you're feeling like you might lose the car, but that's the challenge and I love it!," he said.

"Although we were lucky, we played our strategy just right.

"If you look at the McLarens and Ferraris, they didn't think it was going to rain that much and look what happened. They missed their window at the beginning of the session and we took full advantage of it."

Technical boss Mike Gascoyne added: "Well done to the whole team, this is special for Tony and I know how proud he feels."

The Lotus operation is backed by Malaysian money and led by Fernandes, himself a Malaysian.


Foreign investment in Vietnam airlines can’t be restricted: ministry

3 April 2010

Existing laws do not allow the government to restrict foreign investment in the airline sector and AirAsia’s acquisition of a 30 percent stake in VietJet Air is legitimate, the Transport Ministry said.

The stake transfer on February was carried out in accordance with the Enterprise, Investment and Civil Aviation Laws, and it will not create a new airline in Vietnam, Vietnam Economic Times cited a Transport Ministry’s note as saying Thursday.

National carrier Vietnam Airlines last month requested the government to prohibit the move, fearing that a joint-venture between VietJet Air and the Malaysian low-cost airline would hurt the local airline industry.

The Ministry of Transport turned down the request.

It was groundless for Vietnam Airlines to say that AirAsia was the main reason behind the downturn at Malaysia Airlines, or that Thai AirAsia was among factors causing political turmoil in Thailand, the ministry said.

The ministry also said forming low-cost airlines is a development trend in the global aviation industry.

Nguyen Duc Tam, VietJet Air CEO, told Thanh Nien last month that with only a 30 percent stake, AirAsia would hardly be able to control VietJet Air’s business.

Thanh Nien

AirAsia says Q1 load factor rises

30 March 2010

Malaysia’s AirAsia, Asia’s biggest budget carrier by fleet size, is on track to achieve double-digit passenger growth this year as demand grew in the first-quarter from a year ago.

AirAsia’s January-March load factor, or percentage of seats filled, were higher than what it achieved in the same period a year ago, said its regional head of treasury Aireen Omar.

“Based on the performance in the first-quarter, we believe we should be able to achieve our target of passenger growth of double digits this year,” Aireen, a former investment banker, said in an email interview.

She did not state the quantum of growth in the first quarter but said load factors averaged 75 per cent in 2009.

Ancillary income, such as excess baggage handling, onboard food and beverage services, grew 46 per cent last year and the segment will continue to see “good growth” this year, she said.

AirAsia, Airbus’ biggest customer for the A320-200, will take delivery of 16 aircraft this year to replace its older Boeing 737 in Thailand and Indonesia, said the executive.

It will take delivery of another 89 new aircraft from 2011 to 2015, she said.

Last year, AirAsia pushed back the delivery schedule for some of its orders with Airbus after the airline industry was hit hard by the global financial crisis.

Aireen does not expect further rescheduling for now.

“Overcapacity is not a concern as we are seeing growth in our load factors. We don’t see any adjustment required in the forseeable future,” she said.

- Reuters

Virgin Blue, AirAsia and Skymark higher, Tiger Airways eases

30 March 2010

Asia Pacific LCC shares were mostly higher to start the week, led by Japan’s Skymark Airlines, which surged 8.8%.

It follows reports that Japan Airlines is considering eliminating over 4,000 more jobs than anticipated by fiscal 2012, to a total of 20,000, or nearly 40% of the existing JAL group workforce. JAL has also decided not to recruit any new graduates, including pilots and cabin crew, for fiscal 2011, for the first time in its history.

JAL’s cutbacks are expected to play into the hands of rivals, including Skymark Airlines, which are anxious to expand. See related report: Early retiring Japan Airlines pilots could reshape Japan’s airline industry

Elsewhere, Virgin Blue continued to rise after a healthy February traffic report, while AirAsia rose 0.7%. The Malaysian LCC is expected to learn in the next couple of days whether its long-haul arm, AirAsia X has gained coveted rights to launch Kuala Lumpur-Sydney service.

Tiger Airways shares eased 0.6% yesterday.

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 29-Mar-2010

Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Yahoo! Finance

Air Asia plans more flights, discount fares

29 March 2010

The AirAsia Group is set to spark another fare war with a third daily service to Bali and a second daily flight to Kuala Lumpur within months.

AirAsia founder and chief executive Tony Fernandes said yesterday the airline would continue to stimulate the market with giveaways and heavily discounted fares.

"Unlike other airlines, we have just continued to offer the cheapest fares in the market and we are not putting our prices up like they are," Mr Fernandes said.

AirAsia X, the long-haul division of the group, launched services from Kuala Lumpur to Perth in November 2008 with one-way fares from just $99.

In May last year, the airline's Indonesian division announced a daily Perth-Bali service with 5000 free seats.

That service quickly expanded to twice daily to meet demand.

Mr Fernandes said the group would launch "the third daily Bali flight and second daily KL within three to six months".

But Mr Fernandes, who was once an accountant for the Virgin Express in Europe, would not reveal what the promotional deals would be for the new flights, except to say that the "bargains would keep on coming throughout the year".

"Our philosophy is that once flights are full we don't put up fares, we add more capacity," Mr Fernandes said.

AirAsia is the fastest growing airline in the Asia-Pacific region and world's most profitable, with a profit margin of more than 17 per cent.

AirAsia's announcement comes as new government figures show that domestic air fares have plummeted to all-time lows despite airlines' desperate efforts to increase margins to pre-global financial crisis levels.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics' 13-month moving average index on the best discount air fare slumped to 60.5 this month, 17 per cent lower than the same month last year.

Only business class fares have risen, by a modest 7 per cent over the past few months, to an index figure of 104.

The air fare index system used by BITRE was started in 2003 at 100 and has shown a decline in discount fares since.

Fares details are collected monthly for the top 70 routes in the Australian domestic network.

, The index for the best economy fare has moved up from 125.8 in 1992 to peak at 142.5 in the late 1990s and has declined to 60.5 this month.

The average weekly earnings have increased from $589 in 1992 to $1343 last year.

The West Australian

AirAsia associates to settle debts by 2013

26 March 2010

AirAsia Bhd, Southeast Asia’s biggest budget carrier, expects its associate units in Thailand and Indonesia to fully settle debts owed to the parent by 2013, according to Credit Suisse Group after meeting the management.

The company expects to carry 27 million passengers this year, with a traffic growth of 18 per cent, Credit Suisse said in a report today.

It is also in talks with auditors to consolidate its Indonesian and Thai operations to improve transparency and mitigate the uncertainty overhang on the company, it said.

-- Bloomberg

AirAsia says thanks visually

23 March 2010

(From left) AirAsia regional head Kathleen Tan, Fernandes, AirAsia deputy
group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, Lingam, Pahamin, AirAsia chairman
Datuk Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar and Indonesia AirAsia CEO Capt. Dharmadi in
front of the plane honouring Lingam.

carrier AirAsia recently unveiled two aircraft with special liveries bearing images of two individuals as a tribute and recognition of their contribution to the growth of the airline.

The two brand new Airbus A320s bear the likenesses of former AirAsia chairman Datuk Pahamin Ab. Rajab and AirAsia chief operating officer Bo Lingam. "These aircraft with the special liveries convey our thanks to both Datuk Pahamin and Bo for their generous contributions that have helped the airline grow from a fledgling Malaysian LCC to the Asean airline that it is now, the world’s best low-cost carrier, no less," said AirAsia group CEO Datuk Sri Tony Fernandes.

"Their contributions to the company were pivotal to the growth of the airline. I hope that with these two aircraft, we give a reminder of the value of hard work and dedication to a dream and inspire others to emulate their examples," he said.

He added that the two new aircraft showcases the company’s commitment to excellence not just in service but in all aspects of the business, its practice of meritocracy and its support to the One Malaysia initiative.

Pahamin first joined AirAsia in 2001 and helped steer the then new airline towards success with his expertise in transportation and trade.

Prior to joining the airline, he was an advocate and solicitor, Road Transport Department director-general at the Transport Ministry, and secretary-general of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

Meanwhile, Bo joined AirAsia in 2001 as ground operations manager and has since held various positions including regional head of operations, regional director for guest services and senior manager for purchasing and supplies.

Bo helped set up AirAsia Thailand, the Bangkok-based affiliate of AirAsia Group and worked his way up the corporate ladder to eventually be named chief operating officer this year.

He has been instrumental in establishing high service standards across the airline’s operations and in propagating the AirAsia AllStars Culture – passionate, focused, fun and committed to service excellence.

Sun2surft puts pedal to the metal for F1 race day tickets and Grand Prix Concert

23 March 2010

Motorsport fans can feed their need for speed with discounted tickets via AirAsia’s new online global ticketing service

KUALA LUMPUR, Tuesday 23 March 2010 – With the 2010 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand PrixTM race weekend just around the corner (2 – 4 April), fans can zoom in on getting access to the third race in the Formula 1 calendar at the Sepang International Circuit, as well as the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix Concert that is headlined by international acts Fatboy Slim and Wyclef Jean, through

Just as AirAsia offers travelers all-time low fares and has established itself as the best way to fly, too offers customers fantastic instant discounts off event ticket prices and a host of other exciting, exclusive benefits!

Tickets for the F1 race purchased through from now till 1 April are at a 5% discount.

What’s more, 10 lucky fans who purchase tickets via this hot new ticketing website will win an all-expenses paid trip to the 2010 Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, England, this July! This once-in-a-lifetime experience includes return flights, accommodation and grandstand passes at Silverstone, courtesy of

A subsidiary of Asia’s largest low-cost carrier, debuted with Zee Avi’s sold-out homecoming concert in Kuala Lumpur on 20 March 2010. Positioned as the world’s ultimate gateway to international sports, music, theater and entertainment events, aims to be the top-of-mind, go-to website for anyone who wants the convenience of an online, one-stop ticketing service for the widest line-up of events in Asia and across the world.

Fans from around the world can also book value-for-money flights via or and make holiday reservations from a wide array of hotels and tour packages via A whole world of convenience right at your fingertips!

AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines lower, Qantas flat, Air China, China Southern higher

22 March 2010

Asia Pacific airline shares were mixed on Friday, with AirAsia (-3.0%) and Malaysia Airlines (-2.5%) leading stocks lower, reflecting further weakness on the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index, which dropped below the psychologically important 1,300-mark to close out an unconvincing week.

In Australia, Qantas was flat while Virgin Blue rose 2.1%

Korean Air (+0.2%) and Asiana Airlines (+0.6%) were up marginally, while Chinese airline stocks continued to soar, led by China Southern (+4.7%) and China Eastern (+4.2%). China Southern is now up over 19% since its share suspension was lifted just ten trading sessions ago.

Air China gained 1.4% on Friday. According to Bloomberg, the carrier plans to invest CNY682.1 million yuan (USD100 million) into Shenzhen Airlines to increase its stake from 25% to 51% in the Pearl River Delta-based airline. See related reports:

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 19-Mar-2010
Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation & Reuters