ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Open skies for Malaysia airlines
"Liberalise the routes and let them fly to where the demand is,'' said experts. "There can be better cooperation that way and it would also be better for connectivity, while promoting tourism.
"Clip their wings and at the same time ask them to cooperate on routes and frequencies air fares would only limit growth and deprive travellers of the competition that is required in the market place,'' said an expert.
Air travel has resulted in unprecedented mobility and the very premise of that was competition. Airlines should be allowed to compete in core areas and any cooperation should be in non-core areas such as training, ground handling, maintenance and engineering.
This is also not the first time that the government has urged both carriers to cooperate. An analyst said: "Trying to make MAS and AirAsia cooperate will be a waste of time, in my view. Instead, the government should focus on opening up the routes for both parties to slug it out.'' On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said both airlines must come up with a win-win formula to start on a strategic collaboration that will enable both companies to compete at the global level.
The two honchos of the airline industry, AirAsia's group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes and MAS managing director Tengku Datuk Seri Azmil Zahruddin said they were willing to cooperate but it would have to be on their terms.
Fernandes suggested that MAS focus on premium travel and AirAsia on low cost. He said MAS should not stop AirAsia from getting routes and to cooperate, AirAsia should pass on the maintenance jobs as well as work together on training and cargo.
Azmil, on the other hand, said MAS has had many partnerships with other airlines. It was also open to collaborate (with AirAsia) but it did not want AirAsia X to duplicate MAS routes. In response to that, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said: "If the industry experts in the economic transformation program (ETP) labs believe that more flights on parallel routes are in the best interests of the country and if MAS had participated in those labs (even though they had failed to counter that argument), I do not see why Azmil is asking that we do not duplicate their routes.
"Would Firefly accept restrictions on flying on parallel AirAsia's low-cost routes?" he asked. Firefly is MAS' unit and it will begin mounting domestic flights using jets by mid-February.
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