Monday, October 27, 2008

AirAsia gets nod to fly to India

AirAsia gets nod to fly to India
By ROYCE CHEAH

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 Tony Fernandes said the airline would start selling tickets to Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu at midnight on Wednesday with the first flight to take off on Dec 1 at 7.40am.

“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 Monday during a press conference here.

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 are now in the works for the next one and a half years to fly to many more destinations in India including Madras, Madurai and Kochi with AirAsia.

“AirAsia-X meanwhile will fly to places like New Dehli, Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Calcutta,” he added.

He said AirAsia would initially invest between RM5mil to RM7mil to set up infrastructure in India and he is confident that it will do well.

“This is an exciting period for us and I’m looking at a high 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 India now in its pocket, his mission as CEO is complete.

“I had said then that India would be the last place we need to get to. It is now over to AirAsia-X to grow the business to Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States.”

Fernandes said he expects a huge growth in Indian tourism in Malaysia and that he is 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 their slack.

“Maybe some of the population in India cannot afford to fly with us, but there are many more who can and this is the market we are after,” he said.

Fernandes also said, in response to recent Malaysia Airlines (MAS) advertisements, that his battle with MAS is over and that it is time to move on.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/10/27/nation/20081027134243&sec=nation

seals: Cool AirAsia ...bye MAS ...

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