Air Asia to launch low-cost airline in China

Air Asia has signed a joint venture to establish a low-cost carrier (LCC) in China.

Based in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province in central China, the airline has agreed the deal with state-owned conglomerate Everbright.

Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes sees the deal as the “final piece” of the Air Asia puzzle, as it taps in to demand in China, which is set to overtake the US to become the world’s biggest aviation market in the next decade.

“In just 16 years, we have successfully built a presence in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Japan, with China closing the loop on all major territories in Asia Pacific,” said Fernandes.

Air Asia will open a dedicated LCC terminal, an aviation academy to train pilots and maintenance facilities to service aircraft.

Air Asia already has a presence in China, flying to 15 destinations there, making it the country’s largest foreign budget airline.

This article first appeared on Buying Business Travel.

Air Asia to upgrade in-flight broadband service

Benyamin Ismail with Leo Mondale

Air Asia’s subsidiary Rokko Sdn Bhd has signed a memorandum of understanding with Inmarsat to upgrade its in-flight connectivity.


The GX Aviation connectivity will be installed on the carrier’s A320s and A330s starting from this year and the service will go live in 2018.


Passengers can expect a fast in-flight connectivity, as well as free movies, music, articles and games on the Rokki in-flight entertainment and connectivity platform. They can also order meals and shop for merchandise and duty-free product in the seat.


Inmarsat Aviation president Leo Mondale said: “GX Aviation is now live and operational, introducing an unprecedented new era of inflight broadband for passengers. We are delighted that a hugely respected and successful low-cost carrier such as Air Asia has selected it.


“GX Aviation’s global and consistent performance provides Air Asia Group with the commercial flexibility needed to quickly deploy the service on routes across Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Inmarsat and Air Asia share many of the same traits and this preliminary agreement is not only great news for our partnership, but importantly, it’s a truly exciting development for their passengers too.”

What are Asia-Pacific’s most punctual airlines?

Delayed traveller

Each year, air travel intelligence company OAG publishes its Punctuality League report assessing the on-time performance (OTP) results for the world’s airlines and airports.

This year’s report – tracking the punctuality of flights across the world throughout 2016 – drew upon the largest-ever number of flights tracked in a single year. Approximately 54 million flight records using full-year data from 2016 were used in the compilation of OAG’s 2016 assessment.

What constitutes an on-time flight? According to OAG, any flight that departs or arrives within 14 minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled time is considered on time. Cancellations are also included in the report.

With that in mind, here’s a look at OAG’s findings and the most on-time carriers from across Asia-Pacific in 2016.

1. Qantas

Main hubs: Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Airports
OTP in 2016: 87.56 per cent
2015 ranking: 4
OTP vs. 2015: +0.52 percentage points

Taking the number one spot this year, Qantas managed an impressive climb from fourth to first versus its 2015 ranking. Its OTP score of 87.56 per cent also saw it rank fourth among all airlines in OAG’s assessment, behind Hawaiian Airlines, Copa Airlines and KLM – itself an impressive increase from its 2015 position as 15th most punctual airline in the world.

2. Japan Airlines

Main hubs: Tokyo (Haneda and Narita International Airports)
OTP in 2016: 86.74 per cent
2015 ranking: 1
OTP vs. 2015: -3.7 percentage points

The top Japanese airline in OAG’s 2016 report, Japan Airlines slid this year from the number one best Asia-Pacific airline spot that it had secured in 2014 and 2015. That said, the Japanese carrier remains a highly reliable airline, taking the number five spot just below Qantas when looking at all airlines globally. And according to independent aviation performance tracker Flightstats Inc., the carrier achieved an on-time arrival rate of 87.33 per cent in 2016, a figure that cemented its position as Asia-Pacific’s best major international airline in both mainland and network by Flightstats.

3. Singapore Airlines

Main hub: Singapore Changi Airport
OTP in 2016: 85.19 per cent
2015 ranking: 7
OTP vs. 2015: +0.88 percentage points

Singapore Airlines (SIA) achieved the largest OTP increase of any returning top-ten Asia-Pacific airline from 2015, improving its punctuality by 0.88 percentage points. This increase resulted in an impressive jump from seventh to third among Asia-Pacific carriers for reliable arrival and departure times – an impressive feat.

4. All Nippon Airways
Main hubs: Tokyo (Haneda and Narita International Airports)
OTP in 2016: 84.71 per cent
2015 ranking: 2
OTP vs. 2015: -4.94 percentage points

Of all the airlines to make it to the top ten list in 2016, All Nippon Airways (ANA) operated the highest number of flights – though OAG notes that, while there are other Asia-Pacific airlines that are larger, none had a high enough OTP to make it into the top ten. Overall, ANA had a capacity of 73,444,281 (arrivals) and a frequency of 359,075 (arrivals), with Singapore Airlines coming second with over 20 million less capacity and about 80,000 behind ANA in terms of frequency.

5. Virgin Australia
Main hubs: Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Airports
OTP in 2016: 84.52 per cent
2015 ranking: 3
OTP vs. 2015: -4.04 percentage points

The second Australian carrier to make the top ten Asia-Pacific airlines list, Virgin Australia slid in the rankings this year slightly, dropping from three to five. And while the carrier had a lower capacity and frequency than its fellow Australian carrier, Qantas, the airline’s 84.52 per cent OTP makes it among the most reliable for on-time departures and arrivals, achieving the number 14 rank among the top 20 airlines globally by OTP.

6. Fiji Airways

Main hub: Nadi International Airport
OTP in 2016: 81.77 per cent
2015 ranking: N/A
OTP vs. 2015: N/A

One of 2016’s newcomers to the top-ten list, Fiji Airways soared in the rankings to enter at number six in Asia-Pacific. While its OTP of 81.77 per cent is only marginally lower than 2015 newcomers Jet Airways (81.98 per cent) and Skymark Airlines (81.94 per cent), the Fijian carrier’s debut on the top ten list has seen it exceed the number nine and ten positions achieved by last year’s newcomers. Of the ten most punctual airlines of 2016, Fiji Airways operated the lowest capacity (1,922,663 arrivals) and had the lowest frequency (20,492 arrivals) of flights, a fact that has undoubtedly helped the airline maintain a high standard of OTP.

7. Silkair

Main hub: Singapore Changi Airport
OTP in 2016: 81.28 per cent
2015 ranking: N/A
OTP vs. 2015: N/A

The second newcomer to the top ten list this year, regional Singapore Airlines subsidiary Silkair managed an impressive OTP just 3.91 percentage points below its parent carrier. As with fellow newcomer Fiji Airways, its OTP of 81.28 per cent is lower than that of its 2015 newcomer counterparts, though its coverage is the highest among Fiji Airways, Jet Airways and Skymark Airlines.

8. Air New Zealand

Main hubs: Auckland Airport, and Wellington and Christchurch International Airports
OTP in 2016: 79.20 per cent
2015 ranking: 5
OTP vs. 2015: -8.13 percentage points

Despite seeing the largest decrease in OTP from its 2015 performance of all top ten airlines in Asia-Pacific this year, Air New Zealand nevertheless managed to hold on to its position as one of the top ten airlines in Asia-Pacific for punctuality. That said, its 2016 OTP of 79.20 per cent did see it drop out of the top 20 airlines globally this year, having previously managed to achieve the number 18 spot in 2015.

9. Thai Airasia

Main hub: Don Mueang International Airport (Bangkok)
OTP in 2016: 78.60 per cent
2015 ranking: 8
OTP vs. 2015: -5.68 percentage points

While Thai Airasia did drop in the Asia-Pacific rankings by one place, the budget carrier has managed to hold on to its title as the most on-time low-cost carrier in Asia-Pacific. In 2016, Thai Airasia secured the position of ninth most-punctual low-cost airline in the world.

10. Skymark Airlines

Main hub: Tokyo Haneda International Airport
OTP in 2016: 78.32 per cent
2015 ranking: 10
OTP vs. 2015: -3.62 percentage points

One of two newcomers to OAG’s 2015 top ten list (the other, Jet Airways, came ninth), Skymark Airlines was also the only one of the two to retain its top-ten position in 2016 and the only top ten airline to hold on to the same rank it achieved in the previous year’s rankings. Skymark Airlines is a low-cost carrier based out of the Japanese capital’s older Haneda International Airport that flies domestically across the country, and is the third Japanese airline to break into OAG’s top ten this year.

Indian airlines to add new services


Indian airlines add new services  

AirAsia India will add an additional daily service between Bengaluru and Goa, and Bengaluru and Pune from December 18.

The new Bengaluru-Goa service will take off from Bengaluru at 1720 and land in Goa at 1850. The return flights will take off and land at 1915 and 2020 respectively.

This will be the fourth service between the two cities.

The second daily Bengaluru-Pune flight will take off at 1545 and land in Pune at 1720. The return flight will depart from Pune at 1745 and arrive at 1915.

AirAsia India’s managing director and CEO, Amar Abrol says, “Our flights from Bengaluru to Pune are doing extremely well and so are our three existing connections to Goa. We see immense demand in this sector. We are constantly working towards providing our guests the most convenient options for them to pick from. We are confident that this new connection is going to be well received by our guests”.

SpiceJet has also announced the launch of a new service between Chennai and Rajahmundry from December 15.

Flight SG 3081 will depart from Chennai at 1310 and arrive at Rajahmundry at 1430. Return flight SG 3082 will depart from Rajahmundry at 1500 and reach Chennai at 1615.

Indian airlines add new services  

This is the second city directly connected by air to Rajahmundry, after Hyderabad, by SpiceJet.

Starting January 5, full service airline Jet Airways will launch a daily direct flight between Bengaluru and Colombo.

Flight 9W 278 will depart from Bengaluru at 0040 and arrive in Colombo at 0210. Return flight 9W 277 will leave Colombo at 0310, to arrive in Bengaluru at 0435.

Jayaraj Shanmugam, the chief commercial officer at Jet Airways, says, “Jet Airways is delighted to launch a direct service between Bengaluru and Colombo. With increasing economic activity between India and Sri Lanka, Jet Airways realised the gap in the connectivity and plugged it with this direct connection. Guests between these two destinations will be offered the best in-flight product and service excellence.”

This service is in addition to Jet Airways current twice daily service between Mumbai and Colombo. 

Indian airlines add new services

Thai AirAsia to launch Kolkata-Bangkok flight

Bangkok skyline at dusk, Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand

Thai AirAsia will start flights between Kolkata, the gateway to Northeast India and Bangkok, the capital of Thailand from December 16.

The airline has a promotional offer starting at ₹3,999 (all inclusive) for booking between October 20 and November 2, for travel between December 16, 2016 and October 28, 2017.

Daily flight FD-121 leaves from Kolkata at 0210 and reaches Bangkok at 0640. Return flight FD-120 departs from Bangkok at 0005 and arrives at Kolkata at 0110.

A press release by Thai AirAsia reads: Thai AirAsia is fully ready to further penetrate the Indian market this year and has been confident in the great growth potential, bolstered by escalation of brand familiarity locally and the airline’s amiable reception in the past. Existing routes also activate high demand as our direct flights from Chennai and Bengaluru maintained a Load Factor Average of 83 per cent in 2016 and our Kochi route was well received as soon as it was introduced in May this year.

Thai AirAsia currently connects Bangkok to three Indian cities: Chennai, five flights a week; Bengaluru, five flights a week; Kochi, seven flights a week.

Airline ticket sales: AirAsia, Jet Airways, SpiceJet

Airline ticket sale

Airline ticket sale

AirAsia has announced discounted fares on its domestic routes served by AirAsia India and international routes served by its subsidiary airlines worldwide (AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Thailand, AirAsia Indonesia, AirAsia Philippines, AirAsia India, Malaysia AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X).

The year-end sale is offering one-way fares from ₹999 (inclusive of taxes) on domestic routes within India, and ₹3,599 (inclusive of taxes) for flights to international destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Phuket, Melbourne, Sydney and others.

Amar Abrol, chief executive officer at AirAsia India says, ”To help our guests plan their getaway, we are giving them the best possible deals so they can kick back and relax at various popular holiday destinations that we fly to. The airline has also extended the travel period well into 2017 in case its guests prefer to take advantage of the offer during the start-of-year festive period.”

To avail the offer, bookings must be made on the AirAsia website before October 16 for travel until April 27, 2017. 

Airline ticket sale

Another budget airline, SpiceJet has announced its “Great Festival Sale”. One-way fares for travel within India start from ₹888 (inclusive of taxes), and from ₹3,699 on international routes. The discount is valid only on direct flights such as Bengaluru-Kochi, Delhi-Dehradun, Chennai-Bengaluru and Chennai-Colombo amongst others.

Passengers must book before October 7 to avail of the discount, for travel between November 8, 2016 and April 13, 2017.

“The strategically designed offer with an extended travel period will allow flyers to make maximum use of the discounted prices by planning their trips well in advance,” SpiceJet said in a release. It added, “There is limited inventory under the offer, and seats will be available on First-Come-First-Served basis.” The airline hasn’t revealed the number of seats on sale. 

SpiceJet is also giving away gift vouchers worth ₹500 to new and existing SpiceClub members if they book a ticket under this sale. 

Airline ticket sale

Full-service carrier, Jet Airways has announced discounted base fares starting from ₹396 (not inclusive of fuel surcharge, statutory taxes and fees) on select domestic routes. The offer is valid only on direct flights booked through any Jet Airways’ ticketing platforms.




























Jayaraj Shanmugam, the chief commercial officer at Jet Airways, says, “This exciting limited-period offer is our way of joining the festive celebrations, together with our guests, their families and loved ones. It will be an opportunity to experience the Joy of Flying and Jet Airways’ renowned signature Indian hospitality at unbeatable prices.” 

Tickets must be booked before October 7, 2016 for travel starting on or after November 8.,,

Vistara and AirAsia India: discounts

AirAsia India launches new direct flight to Imphal

airline sale
Air Asia India (budget carrier) and Vistara have slashed their ticket prices to as low as below ₹1,000 for certain sectors. Both airlines are joint ventures of Tata Group with Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad and Singapore Airlines respectively.

Air Asia India is selling tickets for ₹899 for domestic travel between February 6-October 28, 2017. The charges are applicable if booked between September 5 and September 11, for flight code i5.

The airline doesn’t fly directly to international destinations yet, but during the same period, it has dropped international ticket prices up to ₹3,399 for routes connected via its group airlines: AirAsia Berhad (flight code AK), Thai AirAsia (flight code FD) and AirAsia X (flight code D7).

For example, passengers flying from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland can enjoy fares starting from of ₹12,999. This includes Air Asia’s Premium Flatbed service, and taxes.

AirAsia India’s CEO, Amar Abrol says, “AirAsia as a group is committed to continuously offering our guests the best services coupled with affordable fares. We hope our guests make the best use of our big sale to plan their travel well in advance.”

Vistara’s sale is valid for tickets booked by September 10 and for travel between September 12 and September 30, 2016.

A discounted economy ticket for Vistara’s Jammu-Srinagar flight is priced at ₹949, the Goa-Mumbai flight is for ₹1,099, Delhi-Lucknow flight is for ₹1,399, and Guwahati-Bagdogra flight is priced at ₹1,999.

Vistara’s long haul sectors such as Delhi-Bengaluru and Delhi-Mumbai are offered at ₹2,399 and ₹2,299 respectively. The highest priced ticket during this sale period is the Port Blair-Kolkata ticket for ₹4,079.

All the prices mentioned above are inclusive of taxes.

All the prices mentioned above are inclusive of taxes.

All the prices mentioned above are inclusive of taxes.

Air Asia chief confirms interest in establishing Chinese joint venture

AirAsia India launches new direct flight to Imphal

Tony Fernandes, the chief executive of Air Asia Group, has expressed his interest in establishing a joint venture airline in China, which would allow the company to tap into the country’s growing travel industry.

“I believe there is a strong chance of that happening so we have to wait and see,” said Fernandes to CNBC.

While the group has already attracted plenty of interests from several potential Chinese parties, the chief executive believes that it is still early days and finding the right partner to establish a joint venture would take some time.

Fernandes noted that developing a business in China would extend beyond just ferrying Chinese tourists around the region and include serving the dual market “where a lot of Southeast Asians are going out to China”.

The importance of the China market cannot be overstated, as it contributed nearly 19 per cent of Air Asia’s revenue in 2015. The Malaysia-based low-cost carrier currently serves 15 Chinese destinations, and is actively looking to expand its presence in the country.

However, Fernandes has reiterated that his airline is not looking to operate flights to China’s largest cities but is instead focused on secondary markets that offer good growth potential.

“We are not interested in developing what has already been developed…what we have been good at is developing new markets, new traffic, and opening up different parts of China,” he added.

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

Air Asia X plans Europe return this October

Air Asia X

If all goes according to plan, Malaysia’s Air Asia X will return to Europe on October 30 after an absence of four years.

But don’t get too excited. Instead of returning to London or Paris or any other major city in Northern Europe, the low-cost carrier (LCC) intends to opt for Istanbul and Barcelona.

Airlineroute reports that Air Asia X has filed to operate a daily service linking Kuala Lumpur with Barcelona via Istanbul.

The daily flight would be operated by a modern A330-300 and the planned flight schedules are:

  • D7001 departs Kuala Lumpur 1000, arrives Istanbul 1500
  • D7001 departs Istanbul 1630, arrives Barcelona 1920
  • D7002 departs Barcelona 2050, arrives Istanbul 0120
  • D7002 departs Istanbul 0250, arrives Kuala Lumpur 1930

As noted above, Air Asia X last flew to Europe in 2012 with services to both London (initially Stansted but later Gatwick) and Paris (Orly).

But both routes, although popular, proved unprofitable because the airline was unable to raise fares to the level it would have liked. And so Air Asia X withdrew from both cities four years ago.

Intense competition prevented Air Asia X from hiking prices.  As Business Traveller reported at the time, there were many occasions where no-frills Air Asia X (by the time all the extras were included) was actually more expensive than the Gulf carriers.

Moreeover the Gulf carriers serve cities the length and breadth of Europe whereas Air Asia X was confined to two destinations.

At the time Air Asia X blamed the UK government’s APD tax as the reason for quitting the market. But that did not explain why Air Asia X also axed Paris seeing as France imposes no APD.

However one thing is for sure. Air Asia X was disadvantaged by having to operate thirsty A340-300s (which were acquired from Air Canada) at a time of high fuel costs.

Today fuel prices are far cheaper and the A330s are more economical having two rather than four engines.

But there’s no escaping the fact that both Istanbul and Barcelona appear to be odd choices.

According to industry figures 96,000 passengers flew between Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul or vice versa in 2015. However there has been a significant decline in visitor numbers over the past few months.  And only 17,000 passengers flew between the Malaysian capital and Barcelona.

On the other hand, in the case of Istanbul, Air Asia X will simply be taking over from Malaysia Airlines (which axed the route recently) so only Barcelona will be totally new to Malaysian aviation.

Air Asia X will hope to attract passengers who will be continuing beyond Kuala Lumpur and who would be using its flights to other points both in Asia and Australia.

It is unclear at the time of writing whether or not Air Asia X will secure fifth-freedom (traffic carried between two countries by an airline of a third) rights between Istanbul and Barcelona.

From Istanbul Air Asia X will compete directly with Turkish Airlines.  There are no direct flights linking Barcelona with Kuala Lumpur but here the main competition (on service and price) will come from Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Note that no reservations are possible at the time of writing.