ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
AirAsia starts first India flight Dec 1
Malaysia-based budget airline AirAsia will start its maiden flight to India in December after the Indian government gave it approval, reported a local daily.
The Star daily quoted AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes as saying that 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 December 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 in Kuala Lumpur Monday.
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 percent for our first flight,” he said.
“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.”
He said to cater to the new routes, the carrier would be spending about 5 to 7 million ringgit for new infrastructure including the opening of an office in Thiruchi.
Booking for the flight, which will be on a daily basis, will start on Wednesday midnight with offer price starting from RM49 while an average fare price of 200 ringgit for one-way flight. For India, AirAsia would be using ten A320 planes.