Opinion: Air Asia has really lived up to its name as the LCC that services major countries/cities in Asia. With the fall of fuel cost, I hope it will start to grow and be a force to be reckoned
Tuesday October 28, 2008 THESTAR
KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia has finally conquered its “last frontier” with the Indian government giving the low-cost carrier approval to fly to India.
AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the airline would start selling tickets to Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu at midnight tomorrow, with the first flight to take off at 7.40am on Dec 1.
“It will be a daily flight and we are looking at even adding a second flight now as the initial response has been tremendous,” he told reporters at a press conference here yesterday.
Special promotional prices for the flight will cost RM49 one way while the normal ticket price will cost about RM200 one way.
Fernandes said plans were now in the works for the next one-and-a-half years for AirAsia to fly to many more destinations in India including Chennai, Madurai and Kochi.
It is learnt that these destinations, plus Tiruchi, are the places where many Malaysian Indians can trace their roots and travel to for family visits.
“AirAsia X, meanwhile, will fly to places like New Dehli, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Calcutta,” he added.
He said AirAsia would initially invest between RM5mil and RM7mil to set up infrastructure in India and was confident that they would do well.
“This is an exciting period for us. I’m looking at a load factor of at least 90% for our first flight,” he said.
Fernandes said it had taken the airline seven years to reach this stage and with its entry into India, his mission as CEO was complete.
“I had said then that India would be the last place we need to go to. It is now over to AirAsia X to grow the business to Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States.”
Fernandes said he expected a huge growth in Indian tourists to Malaysia and that he was not worried about the global economic slowdown.
“I believe that you have to be innovative. While other airlines are cutting back, we are expanding and can take up the slack.
In response to recent Malaysia Airlines advertisements, Fernandes said his battle with MAS was over and that it was time to move on.
“We can compete fairly all the time. That is not a problem. It was only when they blocked us from getting what we wanted that I made noise.”