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AirAsia eyes more destinations in Asia Pacific, Middle East

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd, the low cost carrier which services an extensive network with 122 routes covering more than 65 destinations, is seeking to serve more major and small cities in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Through its corporate philosophy of 'Now Everyone Can Fly', the leading low cost airline in Asia says it is committed to serve three billion people who are "currently underserved with poor connectivity and high fares."

"We will go anywhere over 4-hour destinations for our AirAsia X and below 4-hour destinations for AirAsia," said AirAsia chairman Datuk Aziz Bakar in an interview with Bernama.

AirAsia X is the low cost long-haul affiliate carrier of AirAsia that currently flies to destinations in China, Australia and the UK.

The carrier is planning to add two to three new routes before end of this year in China such as Xi'an and Chongqing, and four new routes in India comprising Bangalore, Trivandrum, Chennai and Cochin, Aziz said.

He said the airline has applied to fly into South Korea, and is also eyeing other destinations in the Middle East and Australia like Sydney.

"The time is right for us to fully take advantage of the current economic downturn and be prepared when the economy turns around.

"I think many full service airline passengers are turning to non-frill service because they tend to spend less and save more," he said.

Aziz said AirAsia was also promoting its services aggressively to stimulate demand.

"The demand is there and people will fly if they get cheap fares. Passengers only pay the ticket but when they pay for food, we have to make sure it is value for money," he said.

Aziz said AirAsia's average load factor was about 73 to 75 percent in the last three months, while AirAsia X had been getting very strong load factor.

The London flight's average load factor was between 80 and 83 percent.

Asked on the impact of influenza A (H1N1) virus, he said the airline's forward booking was not affected very much in the last two months but it was continuing with its aggressive marketing.

"There is H1N1, but if we are to offer 5,000 free tickets to fly to any destinations within Asia, I'm sure it would be fully taken up within three to four hours," he said.

Commenting on the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT), Aziz said AirAsia hoped the airport would be completed on time to accommodate its expansion plan.

"We can't just take the delivery of the new aircrafts with no place to park," he said.

AirAsia also hopes the commercial terms are agreed and accepted as soon as possible, he said.

It is understood that the new LCCT will be built by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and work is expected to start this month, and scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2011. (By MOHD ISWANDI KASAN/Bernama)

MySinchew 2009.07.04



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